The History Major: Where are the Women?

Last month our department went on it’s annual retreat to discuss various things like the major and pedagogy.  At my suggestion, we discussed Mills Kelly’s blog post, “A Looming Disaster for History,” which observes that history departments around the country have a gender problem when it comes to enrollment.  At CCSU, female students make up 50% of the student population, but only 36% of our existing history majors are female. [in contrast, nearly half of our full-time faculty are female. We also offer classes on gender.]

Things may be looking up:  this fall, 46% of our newly admitted/transfer/readmitted students are female.  This is the largest cohort of women in several years.

We speculated about various reasons, e.g. we have a nursing program and a social work program, so female students tend to gravitate towards these majors that are career oriented.  We don’t have any clear answers though.

So, colleagues at other institutions of higher education:  do you see this same problem?  If so, have you figured out the cause of this gender gap?  Any ideas on how to remedy it?

Crowdsourcing Women’s History

Via National Women’s History Project.  I’ll be coordinating the Connecticut part of the project and assigning entries for my students.
A Crowdsourcing Experiment
Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
To celebrate the centennial of the White House picketing for woman suffrage that began in January of 1917, the editors of Women and Social Movements in the United States invite women’s history faculty and students and independent scholars to join a crowdsourcing experiment.Historian Jill Zahniser compiled extensive information about women suffrage picketers and their supporters, which we published as a database in the March 2015 issue of WASM. Women from 35 states and the District of Columbia are represented in the database. Jill Zahniser has launched this project by constructing the database and writing 500-word biographical sketches of six women activists.  Another 28 already have biographical sketches in Notable American Women. We seek to assemble biographical sketches of the remaining 190 picketers and their supporters for whom there are no authoritative biographical sketches. We hope to proceed with  20 faculty in U.S. women’s history volunteering to mentor students in their classes between now and June 2017 in the methods of researching and writing these remaining biographical sketches of militant woman suffragists?  Are you a graduate student or independent scholar who would volunteer to write one or two of these sketches?

This collaborative project offers a rare opportunity to engage in the research, interpretation, and writing of women’s history for a broad public. Contributors will receive authorship credit for their work and can view the online publication of these sketches as a contribution to the approaching centennial celebration of the passage of Woman Suffrage in the United States.

In the summer of 2017, Jill Zahniser will edit these new suffragist sketches and they will be published in the fall 2017 issue of Women and Social Movements in the United States. We will also add to the NWP Suffragists Database new information discovered about any of these activists.

If you do not have access to Women and Social Movements in the United States we will provide you access to the excel spreadsheet which contains this database and related files from the project. We have prepared guidelines to researching these woman suffrage activists that we can send you. And we will supply you with names and biographical information about activists to research.

To join this project, please contact WASM co-editor, Tom Dublin at, who will be coordinating the crowdsourcing activity.


Red Alert! Wisconsin lege moves to destroy tenure at state unis.

Heather Munro Prescott:

Please sign this petition!

Originally posted on Historiann:

cowgirlgunsign1David J. Vanness, an Associate Professor in Population and Health Sciences at the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has started a petition to thwart a proposal to destroy tenure as we know it at public universities there.  He explains:

In the Omnibus Motion adopted by a 12-4 vote of the Joint Finance Committee on May 29, 2015, the Board of Regents is to be granted new authority, which even if not exercised, by its very existence will create a chilling effect upon the research and teaching activities of our faculty and staff. Specifically, language in point 39 of the motion states that the “… Board may, with appropriate notice, terminate any faculty or academic staff appointment when such an action is deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision regarding program discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or redirection, instead of when a…

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