The Congress of Women: The Higher Education of Women

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

The Higher Education of Women

On the Continent of Europe women are admitted to the universities in Italy, France, Belgium Holland, Switzerland, Spain, Roumania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, and may in some of them receive university degrees.

In Great Britain the following are open both for instruction and degrees: The University of London, the universities of Ireland, and the Scottish universities of Edinburgh and of St. Andrews, the two latter very recently.

Women are excluded from the universities by express prohibition of law in Germany, Austria and Russia. In the latter country a medical school for women students, which was for a time suspended on account of political complications, is about to be re-established through the exertions of the czarina. While the conservative universities of Oxford and Cambridge in England do not admit to their lectures or degrees, they do permit women to take the university examinations, and we have not yet forgotten the triumph of Philippa Fawcett, who in 1890 overtopped the senior wrangler in the mathematical examinations at Cambridge. Under the shadow of these venerable universities, the colleges for women, Girton Newham and St. Margaret's are distinguished by the high attainments of their students.

In our own land there are over a hundred first class colleges and universities open to women. Some of these, like Vassar, Wellesley, Smith and Bryn Mawr, are for women exclusively; some like Barnard College of Columbia University and the Woman's College of Brown have an organic connection with a university for men; some like Tufts College have after establishment opened their doors to women on the same terms as men while many others, like Michigan University, Boston University, Cornell and nearly all the universities and colleges of the Western States, like the youngest of all, the great Chicago University, have been co-educational from their very foundation. Of our older universities, Brown in 1891, and Yale and the University of Pennsylvania in 1892, are the latest to open their post-graduate courses and degrees to women. Harvard, the oldest of all, seems to stand alone in its refusal to recognize officially the eligibility of women for the Harvard Annex, so-called, has no official connection with the university.

Nearly all the universities and colleges of Canada are open to women, and all those of Australia. In India the universities of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. Opportunities are also increasing in Japan for the higher education of women.

Since Oberlin College in Ohio granted, in 1838, apparently the first collegiate diploma ever given to a woman in this country to this time, when in nearly every civilized country women may obtain degrees on the same terms as men, how great has been the advance! And nearly all this advance has been made within thirty years.

Sources +