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?

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Evolving University Girl


Collage of photos from CMU’s Facebook timeline

Every fall, thousands of girls around the word embark on a life-changing journey – university. Pursuing a higher education has become a very important, and in many cases expected, part of growing into a responsible adult. You might be a university student now and find yourself just thinking of it as a required step to getting the career you want, with a bit of fun thrown in. But what does the history of girls in university look like? Have you ever thought about what it might be like to have been a female student 120 years ago? I had this thought when my university, Central Michigan University, celebrated its 120th anniversary this week.

CMU celebrated by creating an interactive timeline of the school’s history on their Facebook page. While looking their posts I found many interesting facts about the history of girls who have walked campus decades before I arrived here. Below are some interesting issues I learned about. You might find some similarities or differences with your own university experience, and I encourage you to comment with your own stories!

Many young women decide to join a sorority sometime during their university career. CMU’s first sorority was Alpha Sigma Tau, which was founded on campus in 1902. Girls also participated in athletics. Intercollegiate women’s basketball and field hockey began in 1905. Interestingly, these activities were banned for girls at Central in 1911 due to a belief that playing sports was too high pressure and would be detrimental to the health of female students. Sports for women did not return until 1945! Other activities that women have enjoyed on campus have included band (which they were allowed to join in 1926), knitting bees, and dances. Things such as these are still popular at universities today, but with some changes. For example, when attending a dance with a date today, admission is not based on paying a half cent per pound of the girl’s weight. Can you imagine how girls would react if we tried that today?

It is easy to see even from these few examples that life as a female university student has gone through many changes over the years, especially in aspects outside the classroom. It will be interesting to see how the role of girls in university will continue to evolve. 

-Hillary Hanel
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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