Women in Higher Education

An Encyclopedia

by Ana M. Martínez Alemán and Kristen A. Renn


Women now outnumber men in U.S. college enrollment. Among minority groups, the percentage of women is even greater. Since 1970, the percentage of women students, faculty, and administrators has risen exponentially. How is this influx of women influencing higher education from community colleges to Ivy League universities? And how is this involvement in higher education changing women's lives?

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Cover image for Women in Higher Education

December 2002


Pages 637
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Women's Studies/General
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The only comprehensive encyclopedia on the subject of women in higher education.

America's first wave of feminists—Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others—included expanded opportunities for higher education in their Declaration of Sentiments at the first Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in l848. By then, the first American institutions to educate women had been founded, among them, Mt. Holyoke Seminary, in l837. However, not until after the Civil War did most universities admit women—and not for egalitarian purposes. War casualties had caused a drop in enrollment and the states needed teachers. Women students paid tuition, but, as teachers, were paid salaries half that of men.

By the late 20th century, there were more female than male students of higher education, but women remained underrepresented at the higher levels of educational leadership and training. This volume covers everything from historical and cultural context and gender theory to women in the curriculum and as faculty and administrators.


  • A–Z entries are divided into nine major content sections, each preceded by a topical overview designed to provide a broad introduction to the area. Major sections include Historical and Cultural Contexts, Gender Theory and the Academy, Feminism in the Academy, Women in the Curriculum, and Women and Higher Education Policy
  • Over 50 contributors represent broad and diverse views of the complex and evolving role of women in higher education
  • Two appendixes provide an overview of available references for further research: Women's Studies Research Resources and Colleges Identifying Themselves as Women's Colleges
  • A complete cross referenced bibliography of all sources is noted in individual entries


  • Provides an introduction to the historical and sociological study of women and gender issues in higher education in the United States
  • Examines how women have influenced and have been influenced by higher education curricula
  • Presents an overview of women as students, addressing their participation and status in higher education as well as developmental and diversity issues
Author Info

Ana M. Martínez Alemán is assistant professor of education in the Higher Education Program at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Boston, MA.

Kristen A. Rennis assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.



"Researchers looking for a feminist slant in the reference literature on education will find it here. Designed for scholars, students and 'first-time inquirers,' this volume aims to record 'the knowledge gained from a half-century of intensive research relating to women in higher education' . . . The 'explicitly feminist approach' sets this volume apart . . . and makes it worth considering for education and women's studies collections in academic libraries."Booklist

"This work is an inspiring addition to both resources in higher education as well as women's studies resources. It is highly recommended in university reference collections."American Reference Books Annual

"Women in Higher Education is able to provide an overarching perspective on the topic . . . a valuable work that helps the reader understand the stride made, as well as the continuing barriers facing women in academic life. College and university libraries, especially those supporting gender and women studies programs, will find it a valuable purchase."Against the Grain

"Women in HIgher Education is a real achievement and a worthy addition to academic libraries."Feminist Collections

"Readers seeking recent information on a variety of topics about women in higher education in the United States will benefit from this book. . . . Women in Higher Education deserves a place on one's bookshelves."The Journal of Higher Education


Outstanding Academic Title 2003 — CHOICE

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