The Search for Equity: Women at Brown University, 1891-1991
Polly Welts Kaufman
Brown University, 1991 - Social Science - 351 pages
One hundred years ago Rhode Island clubwomen spearheaded the drive to open the doors of Brown University to women. During the next century women students, alumnae, and faculty sought and gained increased participation in all aspects of university life.
Ten essays written by individual scholars included in The Search for Equity: Women at Brown University, 1891-1991 present the achievements of succeeding generations of Brown women.
Inspired by the energizing ideals of Sarah E. Doyle, the clubwomen raised the funds to build Pembroke Hall to ensure the permanence of a coordinate college for women at Brown. The Women's College developed its own identity and was renamed Pembroke College in 1928.
The Search for Equity tells how alumnae leaders petitioned for representation on the Brown Corporation for more than two decades before the first woman trustee was appointed in 1949. In 1965 alumnae also earned the right to stand as candidates for the position of alumnae trustee.
The demands of women students for an end to parietal regulations, combined with the steady increase in coeducation in the classroom and in extra-curricular activities, led to the merger of Pembroke with the men's college in 1971. Women undergraduates, who formerly made up less than a third of the student body, achieved parity in admissions in the 1970s. With the encouragement of women administrators, faculty, and alumnae, a women's center named for Sarah Doyle was established.
Six years after the merger, a successful affirmative action suit by women faculty provided an impetus for increasing the number of women on the faculty. The Search for Equity describes that effort as well as the move to establish the Nancy Duke Lewis Chair designed for a woman professor and the founding of the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women.
In the 1980s, diversity was the keynote of the experience of undergraduate women as they worked to define their own identities. By fielding the same number of intercollegiate teams as men, women athletes approached equity as did the women students who made up 40 percent of the graduate school enrollment.
The Search for Equity also presents the results of Brown's century-long investment in women's education by detailing the contributions of alumnae. As volunteers and professionals, they are confronting some of society's most persistent problems. In 1991, nearly eight hundred alumnae serve as physicians, with an equal number in the law. Fifty have been ordained as clergy. Others are leaders in such fields as environmental protection and broadcast journalism.
The Search for Equity tells the story of women who worked to bring change both to a notable institution of higher education and to the wider world.
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