Matina Souretis Horner was appointed the sixth president of Radcliffe College in 1972. Born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, she was educated at Bryn Mawr College and at the University of Michigan, where she earned her doctoral degree in psychology in 1968. She became well-known for a theory about women’s “fear of success,” which posited that women developed high anxiety levels because they couldn’t reconcile their desire to excel with society’s view that ambition was unfeminine.
Horner joined the Harvard faculty in 1969 as a lecturer in the Department of Social Relations and became an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology the following year. During her presidency, the separate Harvard and Radcliffe offices of admissions were merged, and the quota for women students was abolished. In 1977 Horner negotiated a new agreement with Harvard that reestablished Radcliffe’s financial independence, with its own administration, governing board, and research programs. The agreement also redefined an oversight role and special programs for undergraduate women and gave Radcliffe the right to be consulted about administrative appointments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Radcliffe College began to direct its efforts toward postgraduate and research programs related to women. Under Horner the Murray Research Center was established to collect longitudinal social science data on issues of concern to American women, and the Schlesinger Library gained new prominence as scholars of women’s history discovered its resources.
The Radcliffe Institute recognizes Horner’s importance through a fellowship named in her honor. Fellows who have been Matina S. Horner Distinguished Visiting Professors include Linda Gordon RI ‘14, Evelyn Fox Keller RI ‘05, Ruth Milkman RI ‘13, and other leading scholars.
For more information, see:
- Matina Horner, Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1968–1984
- Horner, Matina. Records of the President of Radcliffe College: Series 5, 1972–1989 (RG II, Series 5)
- Elizabeth Cary Agassiz (Radcliffe College President from 1882 to 1903)