"Enhancing the Quality of the Educational Experience": Female Activists and U.S. University and College Women's Centres

Sylvia Ellis, Helen Mitchell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


During the 1970s the number of women's centres on U.S. university and college campuses increased significantly. As the women's movement highlighted its concern over the role and status of women in American society, female activists struggled to form centres on university campuses that would provide a meeting place, resources, and crisis intervention for female staff and students. By the end of the twentieth century there were over 500 women's centres on university and college campuses, with most major universities having one.1 These centres have differed in their wider aims and modus operandi, some focusing on consciousness-raising, others on date rape and domestic violence, others on discrimination and harassment in the workplace, but all have had one aim in common: to support and advance women in education and the professions. This chapter examines the origins and evolution of women's centres on U.S. University campuses up to the end of the twentieth century and highlights the role of individual women and women's groups who attempted to transform the male-dominated higher education environment by providing a voice and safe space for the female academic community; the obstacles and challenges faced in establishing the centres; and the part played by women's centres in enhancing women's academic achievement and helping campus women fulfil their intellectual, career and personal goals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen, Education, and Agency, 1600–2000
EditorsJean Spence, Sarah Aiston, Maureen M. Meikle
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
ISBN (Electronic)9780203882610
ISBN (Print)9780415990059, 9780415888363
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2010

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Gender and History


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