Reasons come first. 
A plan must have its goal, means an end, parts their whole . . . 

It has always been harder to find reasons for women's education than for men's. Most of the reasons offered over the centuries are cramped, as some typical examples show.' 

--Women from fourteen years of age are flattered with the title of mistresses by men. Therefore, perceiving that they are regarded only as qualified to please the men, they begin to adorn themselves; and in that to place all their hopes. It is worth while, therefore, to fix our attention on making them sensible, that they are esteemed for nothing else, but the appearance of a decent, and modest, and discreet behavior. 

Epictetus (55-135) 

--Mary Wollstonecraft felt that women should study so that they would not have to marry for money or be regarded merely as sex objects by men. (1792) She quoted Rousseau's Emile disapprovingly: 

--All the ideas of women, which have not the immediate tendency to points of duty, should be directed to the study of men, and to the attainment of those agreeable accomplishments which have taste for their object. 


--A woman ought to be [educated]. . . only so far as may enable her to sympathise with her husband's pleasures, and in those of his best friends. 

John Ruskin (1864) 

--In the young women of the nation we have a huge supply of talent for which our educational institutions have insufficiently provided, and which our country has imperfectly utilized. 

Kingman Brewster (1962) 


--Over and above its general mission of developing women who combine such characteristics as competence and charm, culture and self-reliance, enthusiasm and poise, character and tolerance, the Texas Women's University recognizes its responsibility to prepare students to function effectively as citizens who appreciate the blessings and respect the obligations of a free society. 

Texas Women's University Catalogue (1965-66) 

--Bryn Mawr College was founded by a group of men and women belonging to The Society of Friends who were convinced that intelligent women deserve an education as rigorous and stimulating as that offered to men. 

Bryn Mawr Catalogue (1967-68) 

The difficulty with statements like these about the purpose of women's education is that they are all the wrong size. Education is too big to squeeze into such a limited rationale. Think of education for individuals, not for women; for the mind, not the drawing room; for enlightenment, not advantage; and that is its proper scale. What follows is that the purpose of education for women, as for men, is to enable them to lead free and full lives. Education should lead women, like men, into ever new human circumstances, all the while helping their emotions, their intellects, and their wills to keep step and pace. It must show them greatness against which they can measure the growth of their personal wisdom. Through education, Beauty may appear to all as simple and rich as fire. Educated women, like educated men, should be good people, w1th their judgment of "good" depending on the quality of their education. Education should bring men 


and women enough sight of the past and the future, enough self-knowledge, for them to lead others. It must be ready to give, to both sexes, whatever they want as soon as they find it is also whatever they need. 

If such statements of purpose seem arbitrary and personal, they are properly so, for the purpose of education is with individuals rather than sexes. There are many, many reasons to educate persons, but there is really no such thing as a reason to educate women. 

There are, however, strategies to improve education for women, and these will be the subject of this report. 



Epictetus' opinion is found at the beginning of Book II of Thomas Woody's A History of Women's Education in the United States (New York: The Science Press, 1929). John Ruskin's theories of education for women appear in the Everyman edition of his essays, Sesame and Lilies, The Two Paths, and The King of the Golden River (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1960), "Lilies, or Queens' Gardens." Mary Wollstonecraft's thoughts on education are part of her treatise, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (Everyman edition; New York: E. P. Dutton, 1929). Kingman Brewster's statement comes from "The Doob Report," Yale University, April 13, 1962.