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Swoboda, Marian J.; Roberts, Audrey J. / Wisconsin women, graduate school, and the professions

Droste, Jean
Chapter 1: Vocational aspirations and job realities: a look at some women receiving Ph. D.'s prior to 1926,   pp. 1-10

Page 1

1. Vocational Aspirations and Job Realities
A Look at Some Women Receiving Ph.D.'s Prior to 1926
by Jean Droste
In the sixty years spanning the turn of the century, two major de-
velopments in higher education in the United States evolved: increased op-
portunities for the education of women and the commencement of graduate
instruction. Some of the same forces which led to the acceptance of women
into undergraduate colleges and universities led to the establishment of
uate education. It is worth noting, however, that in the years between 1870
and 1930 a larger percentage of women received Ph.D.'s than in the follow-
ing three decades.'
The man who received Wisconsin's first Ph.D., Charles Van Hise, was
president when the university officially organized the graduate school in
1904. Although there was little opposition to women attending the graduate
school at Wisconsin, President Van Hise was not encouraging. "As at
Chicago," said Van Hise at an educational conference, "the results
of our
granting fellowships to the women have not been satisfactory, so far as pro-
ductive work is concerned. The capacity for constant intellectual effort
one definite line seems to me a very uncommon quality to find in women.
While I would not curtail or refuse to admit women in the graduate schools,
do not expect proportionate results from their work."2 At another meeting
fore the Association of Collegiate Alumnae in 1908, Van Hise said that he
all of the state university presidents favored coeducation in undergraduate
work, but there were reservations about graduate work for women. He went
on to say that "the percentage of women who are willing to work at the
subject six hours a day for three hundred days in the year is much smaller
than among the men. Thus, while the intellectual success of the women in
undergraduate work is unquestioned, there is still question on the part of
some as to the rank they are to take in graduate school and in creative
Though Van Hise had reservations about the creative ability of women
scholars, he did nothing to stop their entrance into graduate school.
One woman who received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin,
Mrs. Karl Young, felt that "the University authorities were not only
of women but were anxious to advance the cause of women's higher ed-
ucation. I was advised to register for the Ph.D. with the offer of free tuition
and the prospect of future advancement. The university was planning to
emphasize graduate work for both men and women, and to increase the at-
tractiveness of all conditions in the graduate school."4 In 1906 the
expressed the official position. "The graduate school aims to serve
the needs
of young men and women of college training who desire a larger and more
thorough acquaintance with the scholarship and research of the world than
can be obtained in the current undergraduate courses. It seeks to awaken
the minds of capable men and women an appreciation of high scholarship, re-
search and the advancement of learning."5 The university authorities
anxious to build up the graduate school and in order to carry out their aim

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