NOW TASK FORCE ON EDUCATION
(Background Comments of the Substitute Temporary ConvenerHelenSchleman, May 1967)
I. Composition of Task Force – We are dealing in an area whereonly the word of well-known experts gets much attention. It istherefore recommended that every effort be made to recruit a fewwell recognized persons for this group whose recommendations willcarry weight. Suggestion: 1) Rosemary Park, who has spoken outfrankly about women’s lack of aspiration to achieve at top levels*,2) Mary Keyserling, whose agency is also on record as believingthat lack of aspiration is a critical factor in women’s achievement**,3) John Macy, who recognizes the importance of motivation andof changing fathers’ expectation for their daughters***, 4) AliceRossi, who is already active on another task force, but whosereputation for pinpointing needs for fundamental change is suchthat we need her support for any undertakings that focus on thiseffort, 5) Dr. Jean Paul Mather, Executive Vice President of UniversityCity Science Center at Philadelphia Pennsylvania who has appearedon various national programs, speaking of the necessity of usingwomanpower at top levels (e.g., Intercollegiate Associated WomenStudents, National Education Association), and 6) Eli Ginzberg,who is well known for his knowledge of womanpower and who is currentlydirecting a national-scale study being undertaken by a researchgroup of Columbia University. (The study, financed by a $235,000grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is to evaluate counselingin areas of education and employment. It will undoubtedly includestudy of the influences which motivate young girls in junior highschool and high school, were aspirations for high achievementbegin to take form.)1
II. Focus of Immediate Attention: There are undoubtedly many reasonswhy women do not hold influential leadership positions, at highlevels of our national life, in proportion to their numbers inthe populations, or to their numbers in the labor force. Two far-reachingand all-pervading attitudinal factors, however, seem to be amongthe chief culprits; 1) Women’s own lack of aspirations to achievelevels commensurate with their intellectual ability and 2) thelimiting sex-oriented self-concept and “other-sex” conceptstaught to young children (and continuously expressed to them asexpectations), which result in traditional ways of thinking aboutwomen by men in decision-making positions (and even make it difficultfor many mature women to achieve a broad, inclusive self-concept)
Attitudes can be changed. It is suggested that the NOW Task Forceon Education focus it efforts 1) on raising the aspirations ofgirls and women at all stages of education and 2) on combatingthe limiting influence of traditional sex-oriented self-conceptsand expectations. This is no under-taking for amateurs. High aspirationmust be preceded by motivation. Motivation in common sense terms,is made up of all of the factors that cause a person to want (toaspire) to do a certain thing, to reach (aspire to) a certaingoal. These factors are legion.
III. Specific Action To Be Undertaken: (Note: It is recognizedthat there will be overlap with the work of other task forces.Obviously, there must be good communication to avoid duplicationof effort. For instance, the work of the Task Force on the MassMedia Image of Women ties in directly in the aspirations and motivationsof junior high school girls, high school girls, and women – notto say the image held by boys and men.) It is suggested that theNOW Education Task Force:
1. Make contact with Dr. Ginzberg regarding his current studyfor the following purposes: 1) to inform him of our interest andconcern in the study as it pertains to the aspirations and motivations,or lack thereof, of girls and women toward high goals of achievement,and 2) to seek his counsel regarding useful steps we as a taskforce might take to raise the aspirations of girls and combatthe traditional, limited self-concept so many of them hold.2.Make contact with junior high school and high school counselorsof both girls and boys to persuade them to try to inspire girlsto aspire to educate themselves to the limit of their intellectualcapacity and then to use their education fully.
2. We should place articles in their professional journals whichwill give specific information about scope of opportunities forboth girls and boys, will discuss the current life-patterns ofwomen and men that both boys and girls need to be familiar with,and will emphasize the importance to girls themselves, as wellas to our whole society and economy, of their aspiring to usetheir full intellectual talents in top-level spots. Counselorsneed very much to adopt a new outlook and set of expectationsfor girls if the girls themselves are to develop higher aspirationsand a new self-concept.3 This is a crucial change that must beemphasized in every way possible.
3. Make contact with school administrators and try to persuadethem of the importance of making successful-outside-the-home,loved and respected women models visible to boys and girls. Urgethem to use them in the school system as well as to bring themin from the outside community to demonstrate that women are expectedto participate at significant levels outside the home.
4. Make contact with parents, PTAs, any way possible to make knownwhat the current situation is and to urge higher expectationsfor their daughters equal to those they hold for their sons
5. Make contact with men’s service club. in a variety of ways- through their publications programs, etc., with particular emphasison the father’s role in rising the aspirations of his daughterby his own expectations of her.
The ways to effect change of the traditional self-concepts heldby many girls that limit their aspirations are as many and variedas imagination will produce. The same holds for changing the traditionalexpectations held by others for girls and women, We need a workingtask force to agree on limited objectives and specific approaches.
Summary of Proposed Action
It is suggested that NOW name at least 3 or 4 members of the TaskForce on Education at once to begin work in the areas indicated.
A. Specific objectives: 1) raise the aspirations of girls and womenat all stages of education and 2) combat the limiting influenceof traditional sex-oriented self-concepts and expectations
B. Some specific action programs:
1. Make contact with Dr. Ginzberg. . . .
2. Make contact with junior high school and high school counselors.. . .
3. Make contact with school administrators. . . .
4. Make contact with parents, PTAs. . . .
5. Make contact with men’s service club. . . .
* “On the subject of women’s education, Rosemary Park, inher final report as president of Barnard College, declared thatthe traditional lack of scope in women’s aspirations is the factormost responsible for their absence in posts of leadership.”(From Intercollegiate Press Bulletin; Vol. 31, #35, May 1, 1967.)
** “An important part of the answer to the disparity in women’seducational attainment and earnings lies in the goals and aspirationsof these women when they were girls.” (U.S. Department ofLabor, Women’s Bureau, April l, 1967, WB67-281)
*** “This educational fallout is due largely to lack of motivation,but a negative attitude on the part of parents toward collegefor their daughters is an influential factor. I think that fathersare especially responsible in this. Fathers, in particular, needto abandon the assumption that their daughters really cannot learnmath, or that it’s not quite feminine to major in physics or chemistry,or that the engineering degree is strictly a male degree.”(John W. Macy, Jr., “Unless We Begin Now,” Vital Speechesof the Day, p. 680, September 1, 1966. Paper delivered at Atlanta,Georgia, July 25, 1966.)
1 School and Society, Vol. 95, p. 286. Summer 1967. Columbia UniversityStudy.
2 “Women also encounter manipulative counseling. ‘A counselorwill tell a woman that it really doesn’t matter what she studiesin college because she will get married and won’t have to work.But studies show this is not true.'” Eli Ginzberg, “Study of Education and Job Counseling.” School and Society, Vol.95, p. 286. Summer, 1967. Columbia University study.)