This letter, from student Gloria E. Gladman, was one of several that University President Robben W. Fleming received from campus women as the University's battle with HEW unfolded. What makes Gladman's letter notable is that she describes herself as "an older student, a conservative and an engineer" and adds that "as a rule I have gone along with the University on most of its issues." But Gladman is now angry, and has apparently built up a head of steam about Fleming's "statements" and what she viewed as his paternalism in the few short weeks since the University first publicly responded to HEW's findings.
Gladman does not specifically describe the discriminatory practices and attitudes that she says she has observed on campus during the past five years. But if she were pursuing a career as an engineer at the time, it was still a very challenging time for women in that profession. No woman had graduated from Michigan's engineering program until 1895, a full quarter-century after the University admitted its first woman. In the fall terms of 1969 and 1970, only about 2 percent of the students in the College of Engineering were women. Nationwide, women were awarded fewer than 1 percent of the bachelor's degrees in engineering in the 1969-70 academic year.
Gladman closes by advising Fleming that "the best thing you can do is to take an open, honest, positively-constructive attitude and not try to 'put one over' on me just to deflect unfavorable publicity."
A hand-written note on the copy of the letter found in Fleming's files suggests that someone checked on Gladman's background before the president responded. These notations suggest she was from Leland, Michigan, in the rural, northern part of the state, and was a 1969 graduate of the University's College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Further it was noted that during her senior year, she had lived in Martha Cook Building, then the all-women dormitory with the most conservative, restrictive rules on campus.
In his response a few days later (Document 21B), Fleming expresses puzzlement that what he has said so aggravated Gladman "since I have said very little on the subject pending conclusion of the discussions with HEW." He then provided a more expansive answer to Gladman than he did in an October 16 letter to complainants Jean L. King and Mary Yourd (Document 14D) as to why the University was withholding the HEW findings. Fleming told Gladman that the letter was "filled with names and alleged facts," and that the University was "frequently criticized" when personnel information was released.
He noted that University officials would be meeting with HEW officials the following week, and "I am hopeful that some kind of an agreement can be worked out which can then be publicized." It would be another month before the University released excerpts of HEW's findings to the public.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
October 31, 1970
Gloria Elvera Gladman
1015 E. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
President R. Fleming
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Dear Dr. Fleming:
It has taken me this long to write to you in response to your statements regarding the HEW report of the University's discriminatory practices toward women. I don't usually get that angry: I'm an older student, a conservative and an engineer. . . . . .as a rule I have gone along with the University on most of its issues.
As a woman on campus for five years, I've been aware of discriminatory practices and attitudes of the University directed unknowingly and knowingly toward women. I've always kept my cool; feeling things would become better, especially with the movement toward ellimination of racial discrimination. Unfortunately I am finding your attitude and statements with regard to sex discrimination on campus exactly paralleling the administration's unenlightened stand years ago when the University was labeled by a government investigation as a white, racist university. It took rabble-rousing, sit-ins, and ugly headlines to get a semblance of justice for blacks. . . and even now there are accusations by the blacks that the University merely put a bandage over the wound for public appearance reasons only.
Don't underestimate the feelings of women on this campus and the capabilities of current University policy and attitudes radicalizing a lot of "ordinary" women on campus. When one wakes up and discovers the shackles on her own wrist and ankles it is a very frightening experience. I still believe things can be worked out rationally and through the proper channels but public stands such as the one you took on the HEW report and the "Dream of a young woman" plaque on the front of the L.S.A. building make me wonder whether maybe I'm wrong on that, too.[A] Don't radicalize me and for heaven's sake DON'T INSULT MY INTELLIGENCE with a paternalizing attitude. The best thing you can do is to take an open, honest, positively-constructive attitude and not try to "put one over" on me just to deflect unfavorable publicity. Don't be quick to say, "Things can't be done!" because I know they can and they can be done quietly if the right attitude is taken.
Gloria E. Gladman
A. Gladman is referencing a controversy that broke out on campus during the same time
frame that the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare was investigating the
University. Women protested as sexist a plaque that had been installed on the front of the
Literature, Science and the Arts (LS&A) Building since 1948. Entitled "Dream of the
Young Girl," it depicted a pioneer woman, managing small children as she reached for a
man's hand. A complimentary "Dreams of the Young Man" depicted a young man
dreaming of a schooner crashing through rough water. PROBE publicized the responses
of University officials, including Fleming, as yet another example of administrators
failing to share their concerns. Despite the protests, the plaque was not removed until
2004, when the LS&A Building underwent renovations. A photograph of the plaque was
used as one of the illustrations for Kathleen Shortridge's seminal article about campus
sex discrimination (Document 6).
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