Academic Student Life



The admission of women to male universities in the nineteenth century brought with it many new debates and concerns. While the supporters of women’s higher education, in both the United States and the United Kingdom, considered all the reasons a coeducational form of instruction was ideal, they had not fully considered the applicability of such a scheme. As will be shown in this chapter, there were numerous difficulties and disagreements in mixing the male and female students in the classroom. The administrative decisions made on behalf of the student curriculum, in terms of the form that instruction took, were wide ranging. The responses of the male students to the presence of their new female classmates, and the reactions of women to their welcome also varied. At West Virginia University some of the men supported coeducation, while others were rude or impolite to their new female classmates.1 At the University of Durham the idea of having women attending lectures was seen by some of the men as a very good thing, though not for academic reasons. Writing in The Durham University Journal in 1882, an unnamed student remarked that” the presence of the fair sex would also have the great advantages of making the lectures much more attractive to the ordinary undergraduate.”2 Depending on one’s perspective and one’s confidence in his own abilities, then, it was possible to see the inclusion of women in male universities in a positive or negative light. The fact that coeducation was but one of a number of changes to the traditional university education during the nineteenth century sometimes clouds the response to it, while at other times the reaction was all too clear.3


Female Student Male Student Woman Faculty Woman Student Mixed Classis 
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© Christine D. Myers 2010

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