The Women of the College Faculty Program

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of 2016, 44% of full time college faculty were women. While we still have a long way to go to create an academic culture that is free of discrimination and sexism, it is important to appreciate how far we have come. Eleanor F. Dolan’s Papers gives us a glimpse into the struggle women across the country endured while trying to become faculty members in the 1960s.

Eleanor F. Dolan was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1907. After receiving her B.A. from Wellesley College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Radcliffe College, she started a long career focused on women’s rights and higher education. After being a professor 12 years, Dr. Dolan joined the staff of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) as a specialist for higher education. In 1967 she joined the federal government as a Specialist for Graduate Academic Programs in the Bureau of Higher Education. She was executive secretary of the national Council of Administrative Women in Education, participated in many local organizations, and was a founder of the Women’s Equity Action League.

While Dolan was a part of the AAUW from 1950 to 1967, the organization focused on women and graduate school. With the increase of students (women and men alike) going to college in the 1950s, the organization wanted to support the education of more faculty members. Their College Faculty Program, started in 1959, gave women financial assistance to pursue higher education and future careers in professorship. Specifically for “mature women” (those 35 or over) looking to be full time students, the program gave scholarship winners one to three full years of tuition.

The goals and mission of the College Faculty Program

The folders containing the information on the AAUW and the College Faculty Program offer only a glimpse into the over 100 women’s lives that were changed with this program:

One participant “expressed her delight to ‘find that she is capable of productive mental life though over 50,’” while another suggested that “you continue this wonderful program and encourage others to further their education.”

However, beside the glowing reviews and reports of straight A’s, the documents reflect the obstacles women (especially ‘older’ women) faced when considering higher education instead of being traditional homemakers. Here’s a sample application form:

 

As you can see in the scholarship application, questions about husband’s occupation, ages of children, and the plans about the family are prioritized on page 1, while page 2 and 3 ask about the woman’s personal achievements and interests. The health statement page of the application focuses on their physical ability to carry on a full year’s educational program, especially in her ‘old’ age of 35.

This application offers two different points of view- 1. The view of the AAUW, who want to find applicants who are fit enough to finish the program, and 2. The view of the applicants, who, through the questionnaire, are being encouraged to think first about what their educational journey will mean for their family and then if they are prepared to become faculty members. I wonder if men were ever asked about how their educational careers affect their family.

Scholarship winners’ testimonies also describe the difficulties of being responsible for taking care of the home on top of being a full-time student, and the feelings that come with restarting school after some time away.

Beyond giving money to students, the program also conducted surveys asking universities and colleges about their opinions and policies regarding admission, financial aid, counseling, and employment for ‘mature women’. This shows how focused the AAUW was in fighting institutional sexism and discrimination, along with the importance of offering a variety of masters degrees, and encouraging them to accept more women who are older than the typical candidate. The 44% of women employed as faculty members could thank the AAUW for pressuring universities to think about how their policies fought against women in academia, and could thank the women in the College Faculty program for showing that they can be dedicated, amazing graduate students while still being women.


Emily is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in her second year in the joint Public History/Library Information Science program with Loyola University Chicago and Dominican University. She enjoys going on long walks with her puppy, visiting cool museums, and cheering on the White Sox during baseball season.

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.

 

Throwback Thursday: VHS Edition

I started at the WLA in January as an undergraduate volunteer intern and was very happy to be asked to stay into this summer as well. I am now going into my senior year and my work in the archive has taught me a lot about how history can be much more recent than I may have once thought.

For the past several months I have been working on processing a collection from the Cook County Treasurer, Maria Pappas. Maria Pappas has been a part of Cook County government since the early 1990s and started off that Cook County-based career with a PhD in counseling and psychology from our very own Loyola University Chicago. Pappas’ longevity in office has been documented not only in news articles, but in TV and radio appearances, which, wouldn’t you know it, have been preserved on VHS, a novelty for this 21 year old intern. Like many bygone technologies, like the CD player, Walkman, Nokia phones, and even an original iPhone, I thought VHS and audio cassettes were a thing of the past that would never cross my path again. Imagine my surprise when the first box that I went through from Maria Pappas’ donation contained nothing but VHS tapes, and not only that, but they were still watchable!

Although I knew what archives involved, in my imagination it always meant that I would be carefully handling decades, if not centuries old, journals and pictures. With this idea in mind, going through VHS tapes and CDs, objects from my childhood that now seem far outdated, has shifted my perspective of archives, and of history as a whole. With Maria Pappas’ progression through her career, the technology used to preserve her experience also progresses and changes, shifting from U-Matic tapes, cassettes, and VHS to CDs and MCRW discs. Being able to physically see a progression of time, not only in the contents of these media forms, but also in the media forms themselves adds another level to the understanding of how quickly history and technology can change. Most notably, it was surprising to come across technologies in the Pappas collection that I knew nothing about, like U-Matic tapes and MCRW discs. These technologies evolved and became outdated quickly, and were used in such small niches that their usefulness was quickly replaced by another form of technology.

Media found in the Maria Pappas papers.

Media found in the Maria Pappas papers.

With the physical evidence of the longevity of Maria Pappas’ career in front of me in these different types of multimedia, actually going through the documentation and reading about her career and outreach programs over the years made the extent of her career seem more emphasized. Maria Pappas began as a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 1990, then ran for Cook County Treasurer in 1998, a position she has held since then, and is the current incumbent for. Maria Pappas is credited with reorganizing the Cook County Treasurer’s office, which had been losing checks and improperly documenting interactions and notices for years before Maria Pappas was elected to the position.

After organizing the Cook County Treasurer’s office, Maria Pappas began her Treasurer’s Outreach Program and Services, in which she published property tax brochures in several languages and reached out to many different cultural communities in Chicago and the surrounding areas in order to make property tax payment information more accessible. Cook County is an incredibly diverse area and one that has $12 billion in property taxes collected annually. With this diversity in mind, Maria Pappas has ensured that she has efficiently informed all of the community members, displaying her understanding of the importance of progress and helping people in what some may see as atypical ways. Her impressive career and record is well documented, on paper, on VHS, and online, displaying the progression of a well-rounded career, as well as the advancement of technology and the advancement a community along with that career.


Amela Kalezic is an intern at the WLA and has been working with the Cook County Treasurer, Maria Pappas’ collection. She is an undergraduate majoring in History and Environmental Science at Loyola and is an avid dog lover who sadly does not have one of her own yet, but will not let you walk past a cute one without letting you know.

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.