Darnel Degand @darnel25 | December 16, 2015

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Academic Context

Edward L. Thorndike was a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College when Intelligence and its uses was published in 1920. He was one of 48,615 faculty members working in the 1,041 college institutions in the United States. A small percentage (4.7%) of the 18-24 years-old United States population was enrolled in an undergraduate program and 48,622 bachelor’s degrees would be awarded that year.

However, the inequality found in American society was also present in academia. Although women were 49% of the overall population in 1920, they made up only 26.3% of all college faulty. Furthermore, women received only 34.2% of all bachelor’s degrees conferred.

The inequality was even greater on the graduate education level where women received only 30.2% of the 4,279 master’s degrees awarded and a mere 15.1% of the 615 doctorate degrees awarded.

Although these inequalities existed, there were several notable educational achievements by minority groups during this time period. Most notably, three African American woman obtained Ph.D. degrees for the first time in 1921:

  1. Eva Beatrice Dykes obtained a Ph.D. in English from Radcliff College
  2. Georgiana Simpson earned a Ph.D. in German from the University of Chicago.
  3. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander received a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. She continued her studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school and became the first African American to have a Ph.D. and J. D. degree when she graduated in 1927.

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