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The 1960’s Women’s Movement documented the reality of patriarchy, gender inequality and stereotypical labels in place regarding the actions and reactions of women as they became increasingly visible as societal participants. Awareness of the universality of these phenomena prompted research, writing and, ultimately academic programs relating experience, expanding visibility and initiating change.

In 1970 there were only 2 formal academic Women’s Studies programs, one at Cornell and one at San Diego, and 100 courses taught at 48 institutions of higher learning. By 1973, 6 Bachelor of Arts and 3 Master of Arts programs were in place nationwide. One year later, 112 programs had been established and 4,990 courses were being taught in the disciplines of literature, history and sociology at 995 institutions as program relevance and interest continued to grow.

Fredonia’s Women’s Studies program began early in February 1973 when Dr. Maureen Fries (English), in consultation with other women faculty developed an experimental course proposal for “Images of Women.” An interdisciplinary survey of problems raised by the emergence of the New Feminism from the standpoint of several academic disciplines. The Curriculum Committee tabled the course because of a perceived lack of student support. This action was followed by a petition from the Women’s Awareness Alliance and letters of support from the Student Government Association and the Leader for a Women’s Studies course as valuable to the educational study of the cultural and life development of the academic community while creating the opportunity to study the roles, function and consciousness of women in society.

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