BCRW, Barnard Center for Research on Women From the Collection
Exhibits from the ephemeral archives at the Barnard Center for Research on Women

About the Exhibits


· Gender and Sexuality in Higher Education
· Lesbian Activism
· Women in the Workforce
· Women and Militarism
· Women and Religion
· Feminism and Sexual Health
· Women's Prison Activism

Gender and Sexuality
in Higher Education

Exhibit Article 1 Exhibit Article 2 Exhibit Article 3
Exhibit Article 4 Exhibit Article 5 Exhibit Article 6
Exhibit Article 7 Exhibit Article 8 Exhibit Article 9
Exhibit Article 10 Exhibit Article 11 Exhibit Article 12

Scroll down for information about each item in the exhibit.

Exhibit curated by Anna Steffens '10
Published Spring 2010

College campuses provide fertile ground for discussions of gender and sexuality, and the BCRW archive reflects the importance of these ongoing discussions over the past 40 years. With a particular emphasis on women's education, this exhibit includes editorials, articles, reports, and pamphlets from both inside and outside of the classroom. Reflecting diverse issues including sexual harassment, coming out, and the development of women's studies, the following documents demonstrate how sexuality and gender have played key roles in shaping life on campuses and in classrooms across the nation.

How Harvard Rules Women

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How Harvard Rules Women
Published by the New University Conference, 1970

"In the late 1960s Harvard comparative literature graduate student Ellen Cantarow (Ph.D. GSAS 1971), together with several other Harvard women, conceived the idea of a booklet, 'How Harvard Rules Women'—its title an ironic play on that of another left publication, 'How Harvard Rules,' by male students, about Harvard's power relations. Produced cooperatively by unpaid writers, 'How Harvard Rules Women' has no signed articles—a demonstration that individual egotism had no part in this booklet, executed in the spirit of the then-nascent women's movement. Nick Thorkelson designed and illustrated the finished product, which was widely distributed and read."
—Ellen Cantarow, August, 2009

Copyrighted by The New University Conference, a radical left organization of graduate students and younger faculty, BCRW posts it with the permission of Ellen Cantarow, a member of The New University Confernce. 'How Harvard Rules Women' is also exhibited at The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

Barnard Women's Liberation Paper

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"Barnard Women's Liberation Paper"
By Ellen Nasper '71 and Lynda Horhota '72, c. September 1970

Written following the infamous series of student protests in the spring of 1968, this paper comments on the involvement of Barnard Women's Liberation (a group of students advocating for women's rights) in the Barnard and Columbia riots. These riots are remembered today for being quintessentially symbolic of 1960s student activism against the Vietnam War and racism within the U.S. Women's Liberation members Nasper and Horhota, themselves Barnard students during this period of upheaval, preserve the memory of women's involvement in this struggle. Nasper and Horhota report that women were oppressed even within the leftist student movement, and they link racism, sexism, and government oppression in their arguments against the war and for women's equality. They felt especially proud that the university-wide strike encouraged Barnard "women, despite diverse political philosophies and factional differences, to take a united stand on the issues that affect us all." This position paper serves as a vitally important record of that unified stand, as well as the accompanying surge in interest in women's liberation afforded by the increase in attention on student activism at Barnard and Columbia.

Female Studies V

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Female Studies V, Proceedings of the Conference "Women and Education: A Feminist Perspective"
Edited by Rae Lee Siporin
Published by Know, Inc., 1972

This lengthy report is comprised of papers from a 1972 conference on the state and future of women's studies and the position of women in the academy. Sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh and the Modern Language Association Commission on the Status of Women, this conference was an important step towards greater inclusion of women's issues and feminist critique in the undergraduate curriculum. Conference papers, contributed by prominent scholars like Catharine Stimpson and Gerda Lerner, covered broad topics in education including effective teaching strategies for women, balancing academic and personal obligations, women in literature, and women's history. Siporin claimed that the most important lesson learned at the conference, though, was that "community does not magically take place with the exclusion of men" and women in academia must work to overcome differences and the tolls of multiple forms of oppression. This report, along with other editions of Female Studies, helped to spur on an explosion of women's studies programs at colleges across the nation in the 1970s.

Academic Feminists and the Women's Movement

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"Academic Feminists and the Women's Movement," Ain't I A Woman? 4.1
Published by Ain't I A Woman? Collective, April 1973

While many female scholars fought to found women's studies programs in the early 1970s, some radical feminists did not agree with their tactics. When professors called for greater unity and equality within academic institutions, these activists pointed out that the existing power structure divided the women's movement and gave academic feminists unfair control over this movement. Clearly, women found widely disparate ways to participate in feminism in the early 1970s, and this essay represents a direct challenge to most mainstream views of the time. In the context of this exhibit on gender and sexuality in higher education, the authors of this paper reveal important problems inherent in such a focus. Female academics, they argue, are granted an excess of institutionally-based resources that afford them a monopoly over funding, visibility, and above all knowledge in the women's movement. The structural advantages that allow them to rise through the ranks of academia in turn give them disproportionate power over other, potentially more radical feminists. The essay, with its biting sarcasm and strident critiques, provides a challenging viewpoint that is important for modern feminist scholars to acknowledge. It is, perhaps, still very true today that women in higher education (and thus, often women of privileged class and racial identities) achieve unfair dominance with regard to feminist politics and activism.

Handbook for University Office Workers

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Handbook for University Office Workers—Organizing for Change
Published by 9 to 5, Organization for Women Office Workers, October 1974

Issues of gender and sexuality are very relevant in the realm of higher education, but not only inside the classroom, as evidenced by this labor organizing pamphlet. Written by female office workers employed in several Boston-area institutions, this guide offers advice on affirmative action, employment law, and union organization for women employed by universities. It also includes statistics on salary, benefits, and tuition remission for administrative staff at several local universities. With the help of feminist ideology and fellow organizers, the women of the 9 to 5 Universities Committee were able to begin to improve working conditions, compensation, and overall treatment of female office workers at many colleges around Boston and beyond.

Sexual Harrassment - What It Is, What to Do About It

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"Sexual Harassment: What It Is, What to Do About It"
Published by Women Organized Against Sexual Harassment, c. 1980

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, sexual harassment became a hot-button issue for women on college campuses across America. This pamphlet, published by students at the University of California at Berkeley, was one of many publications calling for increased awareness of and response to sexual harassment and assault at universities. Berkeley students reported an alarmingly high incidence of sexual harassment there, thanks to a concentration of men with power over the academic and professional lives of women working with them. Students used this pamphlet to educate women about their rights and encourage their university to institute an improved grievance procedure for complaints of harassment and sex discrimination. Many other universities, including Columbia University, went through similar (and often quite lengthy and difficult) processes of creating and implementing policies against sexual harassment.

A Study of the Learning Environment at Women's Colleges

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"A Study of the Learning Environment at Women's Colleges: Highlights of the Study"
Published by the Women's College Coalition, Spring 1981

This report highlights significant findings of a study undertaken by the Women's College Coalition to examine educational environments at 117 women's colleges across the nation. The Coalition surveyed presidents and faculty members at these schools to determine whether women's colleges provided better support and attention for female undergraduates. According to this report, the study was a huge success; the Coalition's findings show that the vast majority of presidents and faculty incorporated the unique needs, perspectives, and contributions of women into their work. The "identity and purpose [of these schools] flow directly from their commitment to women, and [their] identity and purpose are deepened by a new fusion of that purpose with the intellectual work of the college." Thus, both inside and outside of the 1980s college classroom, women's institutions focused (at least to some extent) on instilling students with an awareness of gender in all its complexities. Though there are fewer women's colleges left now than in 1981, schools like Barnard continue to rely on single-sex education to foster a supportive, intellectually stimulating environment for their students.

The Lesbian Experience at Barnard

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"The Lesbian Experience at Barnard: Women's Studies/Lesbians At Barnard Forum"
Prepared by Lesbians at Barnard and performed February 21, 1983

Lesbians at Barnard, also known as LAB, was founded in 1972 as Barnard's first and only group for lesbian-identified students. The group continues today as Q and is now open to students of any sexual or gender identity from Barnard and Columbia. In 1983, in response to student concerns over homophobia and campus climate at the college, LAB held a forum to air concerns shared by many lesbian students. In order to protect the anonymity of these students, and also to provide an entertaining reversal in traditional roles, LAB enlisted six faculty members to read excerpts from interviews with a reporter from the Barnard Bulletin. Despite the fact that LAB had only about 30 active members at the time, the forum attracted over 100 interested students, faculty, and staff, thanks to the thought approach to the subject matter and the unique format of the discussion.

The transcript of this forum is a deeply fascinating reminder of the difficulties of life on campus, even a campus as supposedly tolerant as Barnard's, for gay students in the early 1980s. For Barnard's lesbian students, forces of homophobia and oppression were subtle but ever present factors in one's education. "It's not as if they have to walk around with a sign saying, 'LESBIANS GO HOME,'" one student said, "because if they did someone would probably say, 'What lesbians?'" Students cited this lack of visibility and institutional support as major obstacles in the quest for equality and respect on campus. Today's Barnard student activists still work towards these same goals. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender students at many colleges and universities have early activist groups like LAB to thank for their current positions of relative safety, visibility and power.

Women in Education

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Women in Education, Vol. 2, No. 1
Published by Women in Education, Winter 1984

Women in Education was a national newspaper devoted to covering all issues related to women in education—as students, parents, and teachers—at all levels. This issue profiles several women who rose to leadership roles within their individual institutions, and it encouraged other women to aim for similar positions of power within the educational establishment. Additionally, an article by Patricia Ann Walton and Dr. Patricia Mitchell argues that women's colleges can provide an exceptional learning environment for those who choose to take advantage of it. Walton and Mitchell also claim that "the women's college can play a major role in bridging the gap between different groups of women," and that women's colleges must reach out to non-traditional students to diversify their campus communities. Other topics covered in this issue include female heroism, sexual harassment, and research on minority women. Clearly, the editors of Women in Education aimed to empower women educators to take on new positions of leadership and tackle difficult issues within higher education as a field.

The Chilly Classroom Climate

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The Chilly Classroom Climate: A Guide to Improve the Education of Women
By Bernice Resnick Sandler, Lisa A. Silverberg, and Roberta M. Hall
Published by the National Association for Women in Education, Washington, DC, 1996

(When the NAWE closed in 2000, Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) and other non-profit organizations that supported NAWE's mission of advancing women in higher education received title to their assets. NAWE archives are at Bowling Green State University. HERS received the copyright and authority to distribute The Chilly Climate: A Classroom Guide to Improve the Education of Women and has granted BCRW permission to post it here. Visit the HERS website at: www.hersnet.org.)

This intriguing report examines teaching style, student behavior, curricular reform, and numerous other aspects of the college experience to analyze the ways in women and men experience the classroom differently. The authors pay close attention to various forms of diversity along with gender—race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, ability, and age are all mentioned in a special section entitled "Intersections—Difference Matters." Educational research like this, which takes time to consider the differential impact of gender alongside other variables of identity and oppression, became more prevalent throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The Chilly Classroom Climate concludes with several recommendations for ways that administrators, faculty members, and students can improve access for women and other under-represented groups. The impressive scope and length of this report signals both the need for improvement in college classrooms and the desire for improvement from educational scholars and practitioners alike.


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Token, No. 2
Published Spring 1996

Though the poems, stories, and artwork published in Token do not directly comment on higher education, this student-produced magazine is doubtless an important document in the history of gender and sexuality on the Columbia University campus. Token was a short-lived publication that aimed to publish student work with a queer sensibility, and this issue, subtitled "queer and free," epitomizes that mission. These student authors write about sex, relationships, and other ways of claiming "queerness", and their art offers commentary on being young and radical in 1990s America. In Emily Harris's story "Tiffany's," the author describes her relationship with a 17-year-old girl living on the streets of New York City. Through the course of this short, tumultuous affair, Harris gains a new perspective on class and sexuality and comes to realize that she is a "pre-med music major at Barnard College of Columbia Fucking University, who had everything going for her, and never realized it until then." This story is ingeniously accompanied by a photo of two white, male "Queer Action Figures": "We're Just Like You—Sexist. Racist. Classist." Later in the issue, Token includes a satirical set of personal ads and "favorite things." For the students who worked on this issue, higher education stretched outside Columbia's hallowed halls to include art, activism, and personal growth in the larger spheres of New York City and the world. Their work leaves its readers with some impression of the subversive queer cultural productions that students are capable of creating on Barnard and Columbia's campuses.


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CLAGSnews, Vol. XI, No. 2
Published by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Summer 2001

As a leader in the developing fields of LGBT and queer studies, CUNY's Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies (CLAGS) is widely acclaimed for its work promoting scholarship on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues and communities. This issue of CLAGS's newsletter, published in CLAGS's tenth anniversary year, highlights a conference on the future of LGBT studies at "the 21st century university." Featuring remarks from esteemed scholars like Judith Butler, Sharon Holland, John D'Emilio, and Judith Halberstam, the conference probed the many ways in which queer knowledge and subject matter can be incorporated into modern college curricula. The rest of this issue of the newsletter includes pieces on racial bodies, web resources in a class focused on queer subcultures, and queer motherhood, along with news about CLAGS's many lectures and other events. This diverse collection of brief articles sheds light on the rich nature of queer studies even in its relatively nascent stages. At the beginning of the new millennium, CLAGS serves as one of many outposts in higher education designed to make people think more constructively about gender, sexuality, and other forms of difference and how they help shape our complex society.

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