Keep the Damned Women Out
Prestigious universities in the United States and United Kingdom were men-only, or separated by gender, for hundreds of years. But in the 1960’s and 70’s, these schools began considering coeducation and opening their doors to women. “Keep the Damned Women Out” studies the circumstances that led to the coeducation movement, how men maintained control of the situation throughout, and how the newly admitted women students were impacted by this momentous change in Western higher education.
Dr. Nancy Weiss Malkiel is a Professor of History, Emerita at Princeton University. She was born in 1944, and studied 20th century American History throughout her career. She attended Harvard University for her Master’s degree (1966) and PhD (1970), and in 1969 was the first woman to join the Department of History faculty at Princeton University. She served as the Dean of Princeton’s Undergraduate College from 1987-2010, and retired to her Professor Emerita position in 2016. In 2019, she published the book “Keep the Damned Women Out”: The Struggle for Coeducation, and was elected a fellow of the American Philosophical Society.
“[My future wife] 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.”
– Class of 1955 Harvard student,
quoted in “Keep the Damned Women Out” by Nancy Weiss Malkiel
Christie Skousen is the founder of the Peery Piano Academy in Mountain View, CA and the author of the Peery Piano Curriculum, a certification and training system for piano teachers. Mrs. Skousen’s primary teachers include Dr. Irene Peery-Fox and Leon Fleisher. She gave her Carnegie Hall debut at age 18 and has performed as a soloist and with orchestras throughout the United States, Europe and Russia. She has served on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory Preparatory Division and teaches students around the world online in partnership with ArtistWorks. Her students are frequent prizewinners in local and national competitions.
This week, Christie and I heard from many women of our moms’ generation, saying “yep, that’s how it was.” We marveled that Christie’s own mom – a world champion pianist with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard – wouldn’t have been able to receive her PhD from Johns Hopkins University just ten years earlier. We also reflected on the constant, degrading sexual harassment that we both encountered from about 6th grade on. Placing our lives on a historical timeline was illuminating as we saw how women and girls have been seen as unwelcome intruders or as sexual playthings for decades. Those attitudes don’t just change overnight. However, our other takeaway was immense gratitude for the changes that were made at the Ivy Leagues and other universities in the 1960’s and 70’s, and that our daughters report a much different school environment than the one we endured. We are so grateful for that progress!
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