The Legacy of Women in Higher Education
March is Women’s History Month, and as with other celebratory designations, we at RaiseMe like to observe these markers through the lens of education. As such, this March we wanted to take a look at how the attainment of a college degree has changed the course of history for American women.
It is well known that our institutions of higher education were not originally founded with the intention of educating any and all persons interested in a degree. In fact, it wasn’t until 1803, over 160 years after the founding of the first American college, that a college or university opened their doors to female students. To combat the obvious and pervasive gap in opportunity for American women with educational aspirations, women’s colleges started opening in the 1840s, beginning with the founding of Georgia Female College in Macon, GA. By the 1960s, the number of women’s colleges in the United States had grown to 230 institutions.
Perhaps the greatest catapult in educational equity for women came in 1972 with the passage of Title IX. The law stated that no federally funded educational program or agency could discriminate on the basis of sex, cascading into a landslide of changes for women well beyond the increased accessibility of a college education. To explore the ripple effect of Title IX, and the impact that degree-attainment has had on shifting gender dynamics in American society, we’ve developed a lesson plan to spark classroom discussion.
- Analyze charts and graphs about women in higher education to determine trends and evaluate the significance or impact on society over time.
- Measure the degree of equality achieved by women over time, what factors have impacted that progress, and establish goals for the future.
We are proud to honor the legacy of so many trailblazing women, and allies, in history. Their fight paved the way for increased access to opportunity for all American women today, starting with the right to an equal and excellent education.
From all of us at RaiseMe, Happy Women’s History Month!