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The Many Roles of the Modern Woman

April 7, 2008

by Robin Elliot

Ardenia Chapman wrote a memorandum to the Council of Deans on the place of women in higher education in 1960. It is a very enlightening look at how one woman viewed the position of women in society prior to the second wave of feminism in the 1960's and 1970's. She linked the uncertainty over the status of women in general society with the debate on how women should be educated above the high school level.

Chapman wrote that Drexel had always seen women as having three primary functions in society 'the role of a thinking individual; the role of a homemaker and citizen, and a wage-earning role.' Chapman stated that Drexel educated women for all three functions and that these were not contrary roles to that of men in society. She also wrote that any differences that did exist between men and women were decreasing. One recommendation that Chapman made was to have a public meeting on Drexel's role in society. The purpose was to show how Drexel had historically helped women's education. It was specifically stated that the speakers should be anyone, regardless of gender, who is an expert and could reliably speak about their views. The meeting's purpose was to support the idea of women as citizens and that every citizen needed to have an education.    
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