Struggling toward Coeducation

Where Have We Come From? Where Are We Going?
"Harvard Strike," 1969. Photo by Olive Pierce. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library"Harvard Strike," 1969. Photo by Olive Pierce. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library

A Schlesinger Library Event

Lecture by Nancy Weiss Malkiel AM ’66, PhD ’70, author of "Keep the Damned Women Out”: The Struggle for Coeducation (Princeton University Press, 2016)

Free and open to the public.

“Struggling toward Coeducation” will focus on the flood of decisions for coeducation at highly prestigious colleges and universities in the United States and the United Kingdom in the period 1969–1974, exploring the hurdles that had to be overcome to open such institutions' doors to women.

Why did these changes unfold as they did? How well did coeducation work in its early years, particularly at Harvard and Radcliffe?

By all rights, Harvard should have been the first mover in the coming of coeducation. Radcliffe women fully matched Harvard men in their academic qualifications and had been taking classes with Harvard men since the 1940s. The colleges had begun merging their extracurricular activities in the 1950s. The presidents of both institutions were enthusiastic. But realizing coeducation in Cambridge turned out to be surprisingly complicated.

Malkiel also ponders the relationship of the history of coeducation to the significant challenges that remain in terms of the education of women, considering what can be learned from the fight for coeducation as we think about breaking through the barriers women continue to face in higher education, the professions, and public life.


Photo courtesy of Nancy Weiss MalkielPhoto courtesy of Nancy Weiss Malkiel