Celebrate Women’s History Month!
March is Women’s History Month
Womens Education Womens Empowerment
About This Year’s Theme
Women now outnumber men in American colleges nationwide, but it wasn’t long ago in our American history when women weren’t “allowed” to attend college. The fight for an education was a constant struggle waged by many strong, determined womenacross years and across culturesin our country. We have those women to thank for our own education today.
After the American Revolution, people thought of education as a “safeguard for democracy” and opportunities for girls to gain basic education had more to do with the males they would raise than concern for womens’ future. A basic premise that, as educated mothers, they would nurture the minds of their male children to grow up to be leaders.
Secondary and higher education were another matter altogether. So-called “experts” believed either that females were incapable of any intellectual development equal to men, or that women would be “harmed” by pursuing it. However, one woman, Emma Willard, proposed her Plan for Improving Female Education, in 1819. She claimed, a woman’s education would prepare her to be a full partner in life’s journey with a man.
Oberlin, the first college to admit women, was chartered in 1833. Unfortunately, women often had different curriculum than men. Women at that time also didn’t have many female role models or mentors to go to on campus, after all, the faculty was male. Women were not admitted to private all-male colleges until the early 1970′s.
Strides in Recent History
Title XI of the Education Codes of the Higher Education Act Amendments changed a great deal for women pursuing an education. This legislation was passed in 1972 and enacted in 1977–only 35 years ago!
The legislation being passed and enacted prohibited gender discrimination by federally funded institutions. It has provided women the opportunity for a larger participation in all aspects of education–from scholarships, to facilities, to classes formerly closed to women. It essentially transformed our American educational system and the lives of millions of women within the course of a generation.
Young women attending college today have countless older women to thank who forged ahead, even though faced with strong opposition which was relentless, hurtful and abusive. Those women, many of whom were your own great-grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers didn’t give up. Now, it’s up to you to carry on the tradition, make things even better for young women of the future.
For more on this subject, see WomensHistoryMonth.
*Some information from NWHP
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