19. Women in the Cold War Academy

Alma Mater/Spring 2014
April  9, 2014


19. Women on the Post-War/Cold War Campus

Retrieve some of Monday lecture on impact of WW II on America’s universities
— Return to national favor as valuable institutions
Recognition of their significant war efforts – Radar/The Bomb/
Economists doing Operations Research/
Psychologists and sociologists doing testing/survey analysis – early computational machines
Anthropologists – Ruth Benedict – The Crysnthemum and the Sword – analysis of Japanese culture
Margaret Mead – Familiarity with Somoan Islands

Radar allowed war to be won across the Atlantic
Atomic bombs cut war in Pacific short by a year/1,000,000 casualties avoided…
Not implicated in Japanese-American detention camp tragedy….

Willing participants/principals in the soon-underway Cold War
Soviet scholars on American campuses – never took to Stalin/Lenin and Co….

Recovering/Ex-Communists on campuses now vigilantly anti-communist
(Daniel Boorstin at U Chicago)

Science and federal contracts:
Case for continued federal support of academic science – at the best universities by the best scientists – forcefully made à Vannevar Bush
Competitive among university faculty with facilities to do the government-wanted research
“Big Science” and “Best Science”  à peer-reviewed grant proposals
Cyclotrons/linear accelerators/nuclear reactors…. Laboratory facilities

CU at double disadvantage in competition with newer science-focused universities
No new facilities since Pupin in late 1920s
Little space for expansion
An administration not all that focused on/savvy about science money….
MIT/Stanford/Cornell/JHU – run by those who were

How to placate the non-science folks?
Direct costs/expenses and indirect  costs (that to keep the other parts of the university going)
A Rabi contract with Army Signal Corps:
His salary as “principal investigator: those of two or three senior colleagues; the expenses in maintaining the lab where research done; the tuition/fellowship money for the 12 doctoral students; 3 post docs
$5,000,000 in direct costs; indirect costs at 25% of direct – 1,250,000 to the University for salaries, books, fellowships for those outside the charmed circle…,
Rabi paying for Trilling’s salary and Hofstadter’s best graduate student and the subscription  for the American Philosophical Review

Scientists present science as a noble/disinterested  enterprise – “Does it bring you closer to God?”
Profs outwitting the bureaucrats who wanted weapons à profs using money for ‘basic science”
Weapons stuff done by engineers and down-scale science profs….


Other Academics with Connections

Assistance provided the war effort by foreign area specialists transferable to the Cold War effort of winning over the “third world” to democracy and capitalism [India/Egypt] –  and to reintegrating WW II into the community of nations on ‘our side” – (Germany/Japan)
Economic assistance to recovering Allies….
Promotion of America’s “exceptional”  institutions among Allies less committed to capitalism, presidential/party politics ….more  tied to feudal institutions….

Arrival of the Ford Foundation on the scene – 1947/Ford wartime profits/tax laws  — reorganization of smaller family foundation into the world’s largest private philanthrophy

What to spend its money on?
Religious organizations??
Medical science/hospitals ?? – Rockefeller already there
Basic science – federal government there
Poverty relief – “The poor we will always have with us…”
Development projects in ideologically contested areas – India with agricultural development; Africa with hydrology projects;  Latin America….

1. Raise salaries of all US college faculty – how to get rid of millions quickly??

2. Encourage more college graduates enter the academic profession à tackle the reported problem of a shortage of PhDs on campuses

3. Broaden the curricular and scholarly reach of American universities by underwriting the creation of foreign-area  programs at universities
What universities?? Those already with a record in this area – Harvard/Columbia/Chicago/Berkeley….
Some $$ for a few newcomers – Stanford/Duke/Michigan State (African Studies; SEAsia)

Multi-million grants to individual universities for specific area programs – money would cover salaries for professors; summer salaries; and fellowships for graduate students (FAFPs)

Americans saw ourselves with best chance of bringing the 3rd World around – least imperialistic history?? Least harsh on our aboriginals? Most enlightened in racial matters???

Wartime scientists pretty ready to keep at “defense work” à hydrogen bomb….
Some into nuclear energy for peacetime purposes
Some science pushback – rethinking decision to use atomic bomb on Japanese


Post-war campuses – all with loads of returning veterans coming with federal $ to cover their tuition;
ROTC programs on nearly all campuses –NROTC on elite 52 campuses
These programs male-only

Two kinds of faculty – Those with access to off-campus funding – and those without access
Nearly all college faculty w/o – their labs teaching undergraduates
Those at universities

Some without – At CU, some of these College-focused; others with research interests that could be self-funded….

Those with – Knew their way around Washington, around the foundations; looked to by university administrators to bring home the bacon; served on funding panels

Sometimes the leading scholar in a given field – sometimes the funding-savvy prof….the second often put into academic administration role….

“Big Men on Campus”

But where are  women in this brave new world?

Fewer in college than men:


                                  18-24 Year-Old Americans in School, by Sex, 1940 – 1980

Year 1940 1945 1950 1960 1970 1980  
Men 8% 6% 18% 20% 30% 25%
Women 5% 4% 6% 10% 15% 25%


Crucial swings – late 40s – surge in male college enrollments – absolute and relative
1970s – relative surge in female enrollments

Those in college mostly in colleges; leading research universities with male-only colleges (H/Y/P/CU/
These undergraduate institutions producing no women who go on to PhD – or enter the professions

Radcliffe/Pembroke/Barnard?  Do better than the co-educational state universities
Bryn Mawr – has tiny Phd program – but its undergraduates the largest % of women going on in humanities

Faculty and Administration

Women’s colleges often with male presidents/provosts à Vassar/Smith/ Mt. Holyoke….
Barnard faculty à more women faculty but more men as professors

PhDs  — far fewer fellowships going to women –the explanation —  will not complete degree or get an academic job if marriage interrupts schooling – self-fulfilling?

Knapp and Greenbaum, The Younger American Scholar: His Collegiate Origins (1953)
Women = 14%  — “strong preference for the humanities  and less inclination to pursue science.”


Women science PhDs — < 10%
Engineering – SEAS in 1960s — < 10% of undergraduates; 5%  of doctoral students

                      Doctorates Awarded by American Universities, by Sex, 1940 – 1985

Year 1940 1945 1950 1955 1965 1975 1985
Male 3000 1600 6700 8000 16000 26,000 22,000
Female 500 400 700 1000 2000 8,000 12,000
Total 3500 2000 7400 9000 18,000 34,000 34,000
% Women 15% 20% 9% 11% 11% 24% 35%


Prestigious male colleges going co-ed to get larger pool of strong applicants interested in liberal arts education at private institutions”

Columbia College in in 20th century – running out of WASP guys
Ivies in late 1960s – running out of bright applicants who want Ivy education
State universities and technology-centered undergraduate programs present stiff competition

Now will be getting the daughters of families with women’s college mothers
Women’s colleges in trouble – need to make a case for separate education….

Two helpful developments:

1. Reinvorgation of the Women’s Movement

2. Government applying “affirmative action” mandate intended for Blacks to women
Hiring – ought to reflect university % of women PhDs graduated à hired as faculty

Salaries – assumptions about women needed smaller salaries – not main breadwinner;  didn’t have kids….

Facilities –Title IX — No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.


These take us pretty far down the road  — Will get to anon
But next – Another element of American society pretty absent from this “golden age of the American university” latecomer to the banquet – Black Americans à Monday

Last updated; April 8, 2014

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