In the “The Gibson Girl Goes to College,” by historian Lynn D. Gordon, Gordon documents the trials of women in education through the 1890’s to the 1920’s. Gordon specifically focuses on college life, views on women, the effect of a college education, curriculum and their sexual revolution through this time.
Women experienced difficulties on campus in the late 1800’s. Though a co-ed university would admit them, they were not extended the same privileges as men were. They would not receive housing, the same financial assistance, medical support provided by the school, and many other things. Along with this men were known to ridicule the women attending classes, though since women didn’t make ...view middle of the document...
Some other women, though had gotten an education, would still go on to be housewives and mothers, due to family obligations that could not be ignored. Others entered the work field but experienced discrimination, with men being prioritized over women. Other women entering the work field, though having gotten a degree in a certain field, still didn’t know the direction there life was supposed to take and ended up bouncing from job to job. All this being said, there were some women who succeeded greatly. Women would become doctors, Deans of Womans Colleges, faculties and trustees.
As the first generation of college women passed, and the turn of the century came about, institutional barriers were removed and woman’s colleges were fuller than ever. This is where curriculum is more talked about. Whereas in the beginning men wouldn’t really pay that much attention to women because there really weren’t many of them, now women where pushed to attend single-sex colleges where they wouldn’t be “tempted to imitates men’s lives” as Gorden says. Whereas before women posed little threat, they were now urged to study things like cooking and sewing and not pursue a job outside of the household because the men didn’t want competition.
Another change being made in the turn of the century was college life. College was a lot more fun now. The schools promoted parties and good times, with games, class rivalries, balls, pageants, among other things. Articles around that time from college women portrayed the lighter side of college life, the fun joyfulness of life on campus, college was no more a thing for women to struggle through, but a good experience to have. Though college life changed in the 1900’s the views harsh views on educated women were still believed, however no longer was it the outside observers believing this, but the educated women, who therefore would try to not only show it wasn’t true, but stop others from making it true.
The outsider’s belief was once that women where too mannish if they were smart, but as the turn of the century came, that belief started to grow inside of colleges also. Graduating women who publish work detailing there girlish and womanly events, trying to maintain that though they were smart they were still very womanly. Whereas women in the 1890’s would spent there post college lives, ignoring the beliefs of man and focusing on their successes, now women would spend time defending public opinion of them instead.
To further enforce that educated women weren’t mannish, while in college they took it into their own hands to make sure it wasn’t true. Some girls would bully other girls if they acted mannish, playing pranks on the girls that were not girly enough. Whereas the belief that smart women are not girly women used to be a belief that man upheld, by the turn of...