A history of women faculty at the University of Washington, 1896-1970
In 1896 the University of Washington set out to become an institution committed to research and the furthering of knowledge, not merely to its transmission as was the case in the first thirty years of its existence. In its transformation, the university faculty became predominantly male. The number of women faculty members fell quickly to eleven per cent and then reached a low of six per cent in 1910.By 1920 two types of segregation circumscribed women faculty's role: territorial (appointing women in areas having to do with supposed female interests) and hierarchical (allocating women mostly to the lower ranks). Strong women leaders emerged in response to the professional opportunities that existed in the departments of home economics, nursing and women's physical education. Indeed, averaged over the period of this study, the faculty in these channeled fields made up thirty-seven percent of all women faculty. In the non-channeled fields, only a few exceptional women earned promotion to the higher ranks. As an economy measure, the university established the "temporary" rank of Associate in 1919. Over the years, more than fifty per cent of the women faculty occupied this non-tenured, low-status position at some point in their faculty experience. These developments, plus the initiation of an anti-nepotism policy in the 1930s, typified women faculty's tenuous role throughout the period of study. In spite of these barriers to their full acceptance, women faculty made some progress from the pre-World War I years to the end of World War II.Following World War II, the large scale entry of G. I. Bill-educated veterans into the professions coincided with a second steep rise in research emphasis at the University of Washington, resulting in a differential growth in the male faculty. During the 1960s, as in the first decade of this century, women lost ground relative to men. While their numbers increased, their percentage fell below fifteen per cent of the university faculty. Women faculty have not experienced significant progress in this period of study, with the exceptions of the World War II years and those of the Depression.
- History