Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/37

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27
THE EDUCATION OF WOMEN.

not have been very far removed, and not much further off than five or six thousand years from the present date; and those skeletons found near Mentone may be those of men who lived eight or nine thousand years ago, before the coldest epoch had gradually driven them further south, near the completion of the evolution of the race, and its consolidation into the perfect form of man, whose intelligence lives and breathes as much as does his more visible and wonderfully formed body.


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RECENT TENDENCIES IN THE EDUCATION OF WOMEN.

By MARY ROBERTS SMITH,

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN SOCIOLOGY, LELAND STANFORD JUNIOR UNIVERSITY.

THE first women who asked admission to colleges which offered a higher education to men were those whose strong individuality and distinctive intellectual bent demanded some other outlet than housekeeping for their energies. They wished to teach in the higher schools, or to enter the professions of literature, law, or medicine. That competition with men in these lines required better training than was afforded by the "female seminary" was obvious, and they naturally inferred that it was only to be had by means of the same curriculum as that which men pursued. These first women, therefore, applied themselves to mathematics, Greek, and Latin, and found in them satisfaction for hungry minds, if not a perfect equipment for their business in life. Although many of them afterward married, their strong intellectuality is clearly shown by the mark which they have left on their generation in some lines of professional labor.

At that time women were not prepared to question the methods of education; in such matters they were accustomed to be led by men, and what seemed good to men seemed doubly good to those to whom it was newly opened. Indeed, before the middle of this century it had not occurred to many minds that anything else than the classical curriculum could be the basis of a truly high education. What wonder, then, that women should eagerly seek that which men valued most?

When it had once been granted by even a small number of intelligent people that it might be desirable for some women to seek a higher education, the door was practically open to any ambitious girl who had the will-power to overcome prejudice at home and the pluck to endure the opposition and scorn of men at college. Coeducation was the outcome of this tendency to demand for women precisely the same kind of education as that