Access and Inclusion: Women Students at VPI, 1914-1964

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Virginia Tech


This thesis analyzes coeducation as a process between 1914 and 1964 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI), as it was called during the period of study. The date for women's full-time admission came in 1921, but this thesis argues that, in the process of coeducation, the date for official access represents only one marker for VPI. Since women had taken courses during the summer before 1921 and did not encounter a welcoming environment after that date, this thesis contends that the relative importance of this "first" needs to be put in perspective. This thesis explores VPI as a case study to analyze how society's gender roles and women's place affected the decision to admit women and their treatment on campus after access. Examining social, political, and economic events in Virginia and the nation, this thesis places VPI within the context of events at the time. In particular, this thesis discusses how federal legislation, during the 1910s, prompted VPI to admit women, an area previously unexplored by historians of higher education. Throughout the period of study, this thesis argues that VPI - its students and administration - limited women's access and inclusion on campus in an effort to maintain its identity as a white, male, military institution.



women in higher education, Gender, Virginia, coeducation