The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Women's History Month "U": Saint Ursula and Women and Universities

SAINT URSULA

Main altar of Ascoli Cathedral, St. Ursula, by Carlo Crivelli

Saint Ursula is a Catholic saint whose life was probably legendary, rather than historical.  According to tradition, she was a 4th century British princess who, along with 11,000 maids, set sail across the English channel to join her fiancĂ©, the governor of Brittany.  A divine storm brought the whole party across the Channel in just one day, and Ursula took this as a miraculous sign.  She then decided that, rather than get married, she would take her maids on a pilgrimage to visit the Pope.  However, when they reached the German town of Cologne, which was besieged by Huns, all the maids were beheaded and Ursula was shot by the Huns’ leader.

The Basilica of St. Ursula contains many bones from various body parts, which the church claims are the relics of the many women that were massacred.   The Virgin Islands, a U.S. territory that was discovered by Christopher Columbus, are named after Ursula and her companions.

Scholars believe that the name “Ursula” comes from the Latin word undicimilia, meaning eleven thousand.  Other think that the legend of Ursula comes from a Christianized version of the Germanic goddess Freya, who was the keeper of the souls of virgin women.

Visit Girl Museum's Girl Saints exhibition for more on Saint Ursula and other girl saints.

QUOTES FOR THE DAY

Throw caution to the wind and just do it.
~Carrie Underwood, American Country Singer and Songwriter 

As you get older, you realize it's work. It's that fine line between love and companionship. But passionate love? I'd love to know how to make that last.
~Tracey Ullman, Actress, Comedian, Screenwriter, and Author

Every minute you are thinking of evil, you might have been thinking of good instead. Refuse to pander to a morbid interest in your own misdeeds. Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and go on again.
~Evelyn Underhill, English Writer and Pacifist

If only we could accept that there is no difference between us where human values are concerned. Whatever sex.
~Liv Ullmann,  Norwegian Actress and Director

I went to work in an office and learned, among other lessons, to do things I did not care for, and to do them well. Before I left this office, two of my books had already been published.
~Sigrid Undset, Norwegian Author, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

WOMEN AND UNIVERSITIES

Two hundred years ago, women were not allowed into any university in the United States.  It wasn’t until Oberlin College was founded in 1833 that women had any opportunity to pursue higher education.  Oberlin was the first American university to accept women as students (it was also the first university to admit black students).  In 1877, Helen Magill became the first American woman to hold a Ph.D., which she earned at Boston University.  By 1910, women made up 39% of university students and 20% of university faculty; by 1980, women and men were equally represented on campuses.

Today, 46% of 21-year-old American women are enrolled in college, compared to 36% of 21-year-old men.  Women now earn approximately 60% of all bachelor’s degrees, 60% of master’s degrees, and 50.4% of Ph.D.s.  In addition, there are 53 American colleges solely devoted to educating women.

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