Browsing Cunningham Memorial Library by Author "Yordy, Kelly"
Women’s First Vocational Advisers: Marion Talbot and the Early Deans of WomenYordy, KellyIn her progressive pamphlet, “After College, What?,” Helen Ekin Starrett (1896) recounted the story of a father whose four daughters, all Vassar College graduates, were living at home and were unsure of their purpose and what they were to do next. “I’m not so certain about this higher education for girls and women,” said the father, “for the reason that I don’t see what they are going to do with it” (pp. 5-6). Such uncertainties surrounding the vocational opportunities and aspirations of the early women college students were commonplace in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thus, the purpose of this study is to examine the vocational guidance philosophies and practices of deans of women at colleges and universities in the early twentieth century. Specifically, this study will examine the work and legacy of Marion Talbot, long-serving Dean of Women at the University of Chicago, and it will seek to explore the question: how were women college students advised in determining their future vocations in the early twentieth century? A succinct outline of the research methodology will be provided, followed by a thorough presentation of the relevant findings. This outline includes a brief history of women in higher education, the role of the dean of women and Marion Talbot, the need for vocational guidance, and how vocational guidance was conducted on college and university campuses—particularly at the University of Chicago. A discussion of the findings pertaining to its immediate and longterm impact on higher education will follow. Finally, the study will conclude with recommendations for future research.