1930 Alumni News: ‘One thing we must do . . . is get rid of these co-eds.’ You sure about that?

July 31, 2009
By Cherry Crayton

I was flipping through the May 1930 NC State Alumni News yesterday and came across this amusing account about the increasing number of women on campus and how men, “in spite of themselves, [are] in a good humor about it.” The editor at the time, E.B. Owen (1898), writes:

The other day one of the professors . . . heard a boy say, ‘One thing we must do, and that is get rid of these co-eds — they want to study to [sic] much.’  Being a man of some maturity, this remark to him seemed amusing as he told about it. A few days later I encountered a group of boys out in the hallway, indulging in a good deal of talk along the same line. They all had their say. Then I said, ‘Well, boys, I have observed these girls somewhat, their appearance, their demeanor generally, and I have an opinion, too. Now, honor bright, aren’t they are a nice lot of girls?’ And without hesitation they all chimed in with a rising inflection which denoted very hearty approval, ‘Yes!’ So, there you are!

Young ladies, don’t think the less of these fellows for such chat. They don’t a mean a word of it.

It is said among the boys that the scholarship average during the fall term was 10 percent higher for women than men. We are reliably informed that the advantage is really about 13 1/3 percent. Gentlemen, We shall be obliged to study or let the ladies get ahead of us permamently. Shall we accept the challenge? It is a friendly, gentle rivalry, but the contest is none the less sharp.

Will the co-eds give us new standards of performance, new ideals of behaivor, a better and a finer college?

Pray that they do. We can stand some improvement, and they can show us how, and are doing so.

And in case you were wondering, Margaret Burke was the first woman to take a class here. (It was a physics course in 1901.) Jane McKimmon ’27, Charlotte Nelson ’27 and Mary Yarbrough ’27 were the first women to earn degrees from NC State.

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2 Responses to “1930 Alumni News: ‘One thing we must do . . . is get rid of these co-eds.’ You sure about that?”

  1. Prof. Rich Slatta says:

    Some things never change. Fast forward to 2010, and, in my experience (teaching at NCSU since 1980), women continue to outperform men in classes across the board. Why? As one wag put it, “To succeed a womn needs to be twice as good as a man. Fortunately, that is not difficult.” Or put another way, “A woman who strives to be equal to a man is an underachierver.” Seriously, women bring several positive attritubutes to a class. 1. They don’t need to be “cool”– as in detached, I’m so far above this, don’t bother me–as do some prepubescent males. 2. They are articulate and are not afraid to show it (OK, we do need a mass attack on killing “like” as a valley girl verbal pause.). 3. They are educable–they don’t ignore instuctor feedback, they apply it. 4. They play well with others, so they excel at group projects, increasinginly important in all fields. So bring on the women–and maybe the better men will rise to the challange.

  2. Chris Richter says:

    Thanks for the great comment. I observed similar characteristics in my female classmates as an undergraduate, and I see it today with my female student interns, as well.

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