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Feminism and the Education of Women
The Journal of Education
Vol. 159, No. 3, Towards a History of Women's Higher Education (August/1977), pp. 11-24
Published by: Trustees of Boston University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42773080
Page Count: 14
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This essay grew out of an attempt to discover, through a search in the archives of nine colleges and universities, whether curriculum could be found that was not malecentered and male-biased. While the search for curriculum that included women's history and achievements proved fruitless, the research illuminated controlling feminist assumptions behind three phases of women's education: the seminary movement that established secondary education for women; the movement that established elite women's colleges; and the current women's studies movement. The author also reviews some aspects of coeducation — at Oberlin and at Kansas State University — that reflect the first phase. In its first phase, feminists interested in the education of women claimed only that women needed higher education in order to teach young children, either as paid teachers (until they married) or as mothers. The curriculum offered to women was, therefore, different from (and less demanding than) that being offered to men in colleges at the time. Indeed, seminaries could not claim to be colleges for women. In its second phase, feminists interested in the education of women insisted that women could and should study what men did: the curriculum was the "men's curriculum." Today, we have both tendencies present, along with a third, the seven-year old women's studies movement that for the first time in the history of higher education for women has challenged male hegemony over the curriculum and over knowledge itself. The movement aims to transform the curriculum through the study of women's history, achievements, status, and potential.
The Journal of Education © 1977 Trustees of Boston University