Women’s Studies and the Slow Change

Curriculum Change
Women’s Studies and the Slow Change

Women’s Studies and the Slow Change

The advent of Second Wave feminism marked a reinvigoration of pre-Cold War ideas and actions, shifting a fresh generation of college women away from the commonly held stereotype that school was a place to train secretaries and find husbands, and towards preparation for diverse careers and a competitive workplace. It was with a passion that these young students in partnership, and at times, competition, with their predecessors sought to push for equality in all manners of life from reproductive rights and sexual freedom to equal pay and accessible child care.

At college, students also began to push for representation, pressuring their administrations to install academic views of women’s accomplishments, issues, and perspectives in their curricula. The first formalized Women’s Studies course was introduced in 1965 at the Free University of Seattle and the first Women’s Studies majors followed shortly afterwards in 1971.

Yet, Mount Holyoke College did not create its own Women’s Studies program until 1978 and the program only became an academic major in 1983, at which point over 300 other such programs were already operating within the United States university system. As compared to the College’s groundbreaking approach to the multicultural requirement, it’s startling that Mount Holyoke College should have responded to Women’s Studies so sluggishly, especially considering its position as a historically women’s college. However, ultimately, it was this very concept which delayed curricular change.

Jorie Thuon, Class of 2019

Curriculum Change
Women’s Studies and the Slow Change