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Nancy Weiss Malkiel

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Latest 28 Aug 2021 | Updated Daily

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Keep the Damned Women Out: The Struggle for Coeducation, by Nancy Weiss Malkiel

Breaking Down Patriarchy

Amy: Welcome to Breaking Down Patriarchy! I’m Amy McPhie Allebest. Today we will be discussing a book by Princeton professor Nancy Weiss Malkiel called Keep the Damned Women Out: The Struggle for Coeducation. This book is a fascinating in-depth look at the process that allowed women into American and British universities which were historically male, and I must say I was shocked to learn how recently that process happened. But before we blow your minds with the sexism that plagued higher education so very recently, I want to introduce today’s reading partner, Christie Skousen. Hi, Christie!Christie: Hi, Amy!Amy: Christie and I met in 2008 when we were both living in Los Altos, CA, and we were peas in a pod right from the very beginning. We were running partners in Los Altos for years - I don’t know how many hours we spent talking and running in the Los Altos hills - and you nudged me to do a couple of ½ marathons with you, although you ended up running a few full marathons so I worship at your feet! You’re also one of the smartest, most interesting people I have ever known, and one of the funniest. You’re always teaching me and helping me grow and see things in new ways, so I’m really excited to have you here today.And now can you talk a little bit about yourself as well? Tell us where you’re from and what makes you you.Christie: BioMy ancestors are from…Mormon stockDad was a professor - big presence in your lifeMom was piano prodigy, tell about her career/mother balance a bit. Debuted with you in her belly at Carnegie hallI had two brothers and probably didn’t even realize a gender difference between us until puberty hit.  I grew up as a competitive classical pianist and gave my Carnegie Hall debut at age 18.  I have had the the opportunity to perform as a soloist and with orchestras throughout the United States, Europe and Russia. Peabody/FleisherI served on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory Preparatory Division Teach students around the world online in partnership with ArtistWorks. I am the founder and Director of the Peery Piano Academy in Mountain View,CA and the author of the Peery Piano Curriculum, which is a certification and training system for piano teachers.  Maybe a sentence about work/family balance Married with four kids Amy: And I’d love it if you could talk about what drew you to the “Breaking Down Patriarchy” project.Christie: Like all of us, we are raised only knowing what we know, and as I have experienced more life it has been useful for me to take a few steps back and try to observe some of the systems I have supported and agreed to without really realizing it. One of these systems is patriarchy.  Patriarchy is something that has been buzzing around mostly unconsciously in my life in various capacities - my family of origin, my temple marriage, my chosen church.  Patriarchy is something that was always just accepted as something that is without my ever choosing it, or understanding why it was or how it came about. My interest in this project is to help me better understand those things so I can have a clearer understanding about my own choices going forward.Amy: So let’s learn just a bit about the author of this book, and then we’ll dive into the text. Christie: Bio of Nancy Weiss MalkielNancy Weiss Malkiel was born in 1944. She was educated at Smith College, obtaining her B.A. summa cum laude and graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1965, and she went on from there having won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to Harvard University for her M.A. (1966) and her Ph.D. (1970).She joined the Princeton University Department of History faculty as Nancy Weiss in 1969, where she rose through the ranks from assistant professor to associate professor to professor. Nancy’s career as a writer and teacher has been a distinguished one. When she came to Princeton, she was already an accomplished scholar. Smith College had published her “solid, full-length biography,” as one reader called it, of Charles Francis Murphy, 1858–1924: Respectability and Responsibility in Tammany Politics in 1968. She went on to publish several books thereafter.While doing research and writing her later books, Nancy was also lecturing, precepting, and leading seminars in the history department and the Program in American Studies. She taught or cotaught some of the largest courses in the department’s history, courses that routinely attracted in excess of 200 students. The “United States since 1940,” her signature course, enrolled over 300 students on six different occasions, an enormous number for a class at Princeton University.After spending a year, 1986–87, on a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, Nancy returned to Princeton to take up the many more challenging duties associated with the Office of Dean of the College in 1987, a position she held for twenty-four years. Thereafter, following a well-earned leave, she resumed teaching and research in the history department. By then, the focus of her research had shifted, and she was devoting herself to exploring the decisions that elite male colleges and universities in the United States and the United Kingdom made to admit women in the late 1960s and 1970s, and that their female counterparts made to admit men. In conjunction with this research, she taught a number of undergraduate seminars on coeducation and women in higher education in general. Her work culminated in the book we will discuss today, Keep the Damned Women Out: The Struggle for Coeducation, published in 2016 by Princeton University Press. Amy: Ok, let’s look at this book! We each chose a couple of chapters to focus on, so I’ll start with Chapter 1, then Christie, you’ll take a couple of chapters in the middle, and then I’ll finish with Chapters 19-20. Amy: Chapter 1: Setting the StageCo-education was the norm at the many state universities founded in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. (I would not have guessed that!)At Oberlin, the first private college in the United States to become oeducational (in1837), women students took on sex-segregated roles for the college community that mirrored their eventual familial responsibilities, like laundry, sewing, and dishwashing. (Ohhh, ok, now that makes sense)But the initial enthusiasm for it at some of the leading universities, like Berkeley, Cornell, and Michigan, waned in the face of experience. Too many women students were enrolling, and they were doing too well academically; the fear was that they might feminize, even overrun, their universities. (3)Women now outnumber men in undergraduate programs, and even in some graduate programs. Is women’s work done then? Has it gone too far? Is the current situation bad for men? If so, how do we encourage men and women’s education and careers, so that both can flourish and thrive and not one at the expense of the other?Typically, decisions to limit opportunities for women students were made by men. (5)We will see this all the way through the book, and this is why we’re including this book in a historical project on Patriarchy. Because no matter the motive, and no matter the outcome (whether favorable to women or not favorable), the fact that all the decisions about women were being made by men is a testament to the existence of patriarchy, that women inhabit a man’s world, and that women are dependent on the benevolence and generosity of men. And if women are dependent upon it, then that means even the best policies can be revoked at any time.Another quote I thought was really important is this one. It responds to the argument that once women in the United States got the right to vote, that everything was equitable and women were not at a disadvantage anymore. Malkiel writes:Giving women the right to vote did not affect the range of sex discrimination that was built into the fabrice of American society. It did not give women equal employment opportunities; it did not require equal pay for equal work. Adjusting for education, experience, skills, and field, women in 1960 were earning 61 percent of men’s wages (a drop of 3 percent since 1955). ...Moreover, no matter what the industry, there was a ceiling on how far women could go. The vote did not give women the same educational opportunities as men, especially in graduate and professional schools. It did not give women agency to make their own decisions: It did not give them access to credit in their own name. ...It did not affect cultural and personal expectations about women’s subordinate role: that it was women’s responsibility to maintain the home and raise the children; that the husband’s needs and wishes should take precedence over his wife’s; that biology and nature made women suited to supportive, nurturing roles. (15)During the period of time this book discusses, Title IX had not been passed yet. The Equal Rights Amendment had not been passed by Congress [it’s still never been ratified]. (20)Writing in Saturday Review in 1958, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu said, “Being a good wife, a good mother, in short, a good homemaker is the most important of all the occupations in the world.”This is the message that women in conservative religions still hear. IMO there is value in this last message because it doesn’t demean the work of the home and family. But if domestic work is valuable for a person’s character and the functioning of the home, then all members of the household should share itAnd it limits women to only that roleI would change this quote to “Being a good spouse, a good parent, [or a good child or sibling or aunt or uncle for those who aren’t married], in short, a good family member is the most important of all the occupations for a human being (because that will bring joy and flourishing, and it passes on the greatest chances of joy and flourishing to the next generation)However, as it stands, this emphasis on a woman’s role as a homemaker, without those changes, is restrictive for women, and it leads men to see women in a very limited, diminished way. Take for example the following:In 1955 Time magazine commissioned interviews with graduating seniors at twenty colleges and universities, asking them what they expected their lives to be like fifteen years hence. The sociologist David Riesman, who examined the transcripts, reported on some of the most striking findings. Witness what three seniors in the class of 1955 said about their future wives: Princeton student: [My future wife should be] “...the Grace Kelly, camel’s-hair coat type. Feet on the ground, and not an empty shell or a fake. Although an Ivy League type, she will also be centered in the home, a housewife. Perhaps at forty-five, with the children grown up, she will go in for hospital work and so on… And improving herself culturally and thus bringing a deeper sense of culture into our home will be one of her main interests.” (21)There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those traits per se, if that future wife happens to want to choose them. It’s just that they’re being prescribed for her, and that even her interest in culture has to be for the benefit of the home.Harvard man: “She shouldn’t be submissive. She can be independent on little things, but the big decisions will have to go my way… the marriage must be the most important thing that ever happened to her.”This one made me absolutely sick. This will set up the woman to be not only physically, but financially and mentally and emotionally dependent on her husband for the rest of her life. Which is a perfect recipe for abuse. Both partners will view the wife in many ways as a perpetual child, and the husband almost as a parent. The wife will feel dependent and inferior and trapped, and the husband will feel superior, and potentially eventually disdain for his wife because she can’t keep up with him. It’s just a recipe for disaster.Malkiel points out that in the late 1950’s, 60% of women dropped out of college to marry (24), setting their marriages up for this dynamic.[These discussions of women’s futures are relevant because they determine what type of education women need.][Male presidents of women’s colleges saw education as gendered]: The president of Mills College, Lynn Townsend White, Jr., said that women’s colleges should “shake off their subservience to masculine values” and create a “distinctively feminine curriculum,” including  textiles, weaving, leatherwork, and flower arranging, that reflected rather than denied the differences between the sexes.” (22)President of Sweetbriar College, Anne Parnell: “The task of creating a good home and raising good children should be raised to the dignity of a profession and made the primary purpose of women’s colleges.” President of Wellesely, Mildred McAfee Horton: “the graduates of women’s colleges would make better mothers, helping educate their children at a higher level, imbuing them with respect for civilized values,” while at the same time contributing their leadership skills to parent-teacher associations and “bringing their knowledge and taste to service on museum boards.” (23)Above all, she must be selfless. After all the books we’ve discussed so far we can see the trend, right? This is Rousseau, and Mary Wollstonecraft still bought into it. This is what John Stuart Mill and Sarah Grimke and Virginia Woolf railed against - whatever knowledge or virtue is good for a man, is good for a woman. There shouldn’t be distinctions, and for heaven’s sake there shouldn’t be a group of MEN deciding what the distinctions are and then limiting the women’s choices and opportunities based on what they - THE MEN - think the differences are. We should be encouraging all our children, boys and girls, from the moment they are born, to be interested in all the fields of learning and exploration, and to feel confident in EVERY endeavor. And then they will choose what they will choose.**Christie, do you have anything else from Chapter 1 that you want to share?Chapter 3: Yale: Girls are People, Just Like You and MeThe school of fine art admitted its first degree candidates in 1869 and awarded the first Yale degree to a woman in 1891.(54)And yet Yale wasn’t officially coed until 1969. I am both surprised that women were given educational opportunities much earlier than I thought and that the process to make it coeducation structurally official took so many years and was much later than I thought.  Realizing that Yale was officially, fully coed only 3 years before I was born kind of blows my mind.And gentlemen - let’s face it - charming as women are - they get to be a drag if you are forced to associate with them each and every day.  Think of the poor student who has a steady date - he wants to concentrate on the basic principles of thermodynamics, but she keeps trying to gossip about the idiotic trivia all women try to impose on men.(63)This is just sad and lazy thinking.  It’s so much easier to classify people  in the most general and broad terms, and in this case the terms are also insulting.  So women are charming but trivial and distracting.  Yale had been underutilizing academic resources that could be well used by women at a neighboring college.  Including women in courses with Yale students would ‘enrich and enlarge the variety of interests, points of views, and values taken into consideration’ in class discussions and stimulate’ a higher level of performance’ on everyone’s part.(66)What happens when you go to a men’s school is you forget how really good [girls] can be.  You get entangled in a weekend-to-weekend existence, and you become a product of it. You lose sight of the simple fact that girls are people, just like you and me.  Instead they become things to play with on allotted days.  Things.(79)While I appreciate that both of these quotes are moving in the direction of including women and valuing them in a new way it is disheartening to understand how much work it took for men to mental gymnastics their way into believing that women were valuable beyond how women could directly serve them.Chapter 5: A Penetrating Analysis of Far-Reaching SignificancePrinceton was in the business of producing leaders -male leaders - and alumni had a strong investment in the young men who matriculated at the university, whether they were sons or grandsons of alumni or excellent students from schools and communities to which alumni were deeply attached. (122)Really what’s the point of educating women if they are destined to be in the home raising kids and being in charge of the household.  Primary education is good enough to support this destiny.  Higher education was meant to train future community leaders and leaders are men supported by the men who went before them.Segregation of the sexes was fully consistent with our social institutions only a generation ago; but now, in the late 1960s, it is, quite simply, seen as anachronistic by most college students.(123)It often takes young people to point out that the way things are not how things necessarily have to be.  I’m grateful for the questioning and pushing and pulling of each new generation.The editorial continued, whether or not tongue in cheek, ‘The Patterson committee found, in effect, that if Princeton wants to continue to attract the highest type of young men to its campus it has to offer them the delights of feminine companionship as well as the delights of learning’. Patterson fired off a letter to the editor to set the record straight.  “What a lot of work my colleagues and I could have saved had we thought that providing such ‘delight’ for our male students would be a sufficient justification for urging our trustees and president to overturn a 225-year-old tradition and to incur substantial financial obligations to boot.” In fact, the committee had made its case for admitting women on, “of all things, educational grounds.”(126-127)Oh boy.  So much delights.  Part of the challenge of coeducation was learning how to expand relating to women as more than just social delights and begin to consider their value in other realms including education. It is surprising that white men have such a hard time considering that a fuller, deeper education would include interacting with people that are not just exactly like them.A member of the class of 1932 wrote from Cleveland, “If Princeton goes coeducational my alma mater will have been taken away...

1hr 27mins

18 May 2021

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Nancy Weiss Malkiel, ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation” (Princeton UP, 2016)

New Books in Education

Within the context of the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s, elite institutions of higher education began to feel pressure to open their doors to women. In ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation (Princeton University Press, 2015), an expansive study in institutional decision making, Nancy Weiss Malkiel analyzes how institutions ultimately decided to approach coeducation and what their institutions would ultimately look like following this radical change. By using examples from both the United States and the United Kingdom, one gets a sense of how men at these institutions viewed coeducation, how women who ended up attending these schools reacted, and how traditionally women-only institutions handled the change. Finally, Nancy Weiss Malkiel answers the important set of questions within this move toward coeducation: what did coeducation do and what did it not do? Nancy Weiss Malkiel is emerita professor of history at Princeton University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/education

44mins

13 Feb 2017

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Nancy Weiss Malkiel, ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation” (Princeton UP, 2016)

New Books in Gender

Within the context of the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s, elite institutions of higher education began to feel pressure to open their doors to women. In ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation (Princeton University Press, 2015), an expansive study in institutional decision making, Nancy Weiss Malkiel analyzes how institutions ultimately decided to approach coeducation and what their institutions would ultimately look like following this radical change. By using examples from both the United States and the United Kingdom, one gets a sense of how men at these institutions viewed coeducation, how women who ended up attending these schools reacted, and how traditionally women-only institutions handled the change. Finally, Nancy Weiss Malkiel answers the important set of questions within this move toward coeducation: what did coeducation do and what did it not do? Nancy Weiss Malkiel is emerita professor of history at Princeton University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/gender-studies

44mins

13 Feb 2017

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Nancy Weiss Malkiel, ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation” (Princeton UP, 2016)

New Books in American Studies

Within the context of the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s, elite institutions of higher education began to feel pressure to open their doors to women. In ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation (Princeton University Press, 2015), an expansive study in institutional decision making, Nancy Weiss Malkiel analyzes how institutions ultimately decided to approach coeducation and what their institutions would ultimately look like following this radical change. By using examples from both the United States and the United Kingdom, one gets a sense of how men at these institutions viewed coeducation, how women who ended up attending these schools reacted, and how traditionally women-only institutions handled the change. Finally, Nancy Weiss Malkiel answers the important set of questions within this move toward coeducation: what did coeducation do and what did it not do? Nancy Weiss Malkiel is emerita professor of history at Princeton University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

44mins

13 Feb 2017

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Nancy Weiss Malkiel, ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation” (Princeton UP, 2016)

New Books in History

Within the context of the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s, elite institutions of higher education began to feel pressure to open their doors to women. In ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation (Princeton University Press, 2015), an expansive study in institutional decision making, Nancy Weiss Malkiel analyzes how institutions ultimately decided to approach coeducation and what their institutions would ultimately look like following this radical change. By using examples from both the United States and the United Kingdom, one gets a sense of how men at these institutions viewed coeducation, how women who ended up attending these schools reacted, and how traditionally women-only institutions handled the change. Finally, Nancy Weiss Malkiel answers the important set of questions within this move toward coeducation: what did coeducation do and what did it not do? Nancy Weiss Malkiel is emerita professor of history at Princeton University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/history

51mins

13 Feb 2017

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Nancy Weiss Malkiel, ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation” (Princeton UP, 2016)

New Books in British Studies

Within the context of the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s, elite institutions of higher education began to feel pressure to open their doors to women. In ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation (Princeton University Press, 2015), an expansive study in institutional decision making, Nancy Weiss Malkiel analyzes how institutions ultimately decided to approach coeducation and what their institutions would ultimately look like following this radical change. By using examples from both the United States and the United Kingdom, one gets a sense of how men at these institutions viewed coeducation, how women who ended up attending these schools reacted, and how traditionally women-only institutions handled the change. Finally, Nancy Weiss Malkiel answers the important set of questions within this move toward coeducation: what did coeducation do and what did it not do? Nancy Weiss Malkiel is emerita professor of history at Princeton University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/british-studies

44mins

13 Feb 2017

Episode artwork

Nancy Weiss Malkiel, ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation” (Princeton UP, 2016)

New Books in Politics & Society

Within the context of the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s, elite institutions of higher education began to feel pressure to open their doors to women. In ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation (Princeton University Press,…

13 Feb 2017

Episode artwork

Nancy Weiss Malkiel, ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation” (Princeton UP, 2016)

New Books in Peoples & Places

Within the context of the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s, elite institutions of higher education began to feel pressure to open their doors to women. In ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation (Princeton University Press,…

42mins

13 Feb 2017