Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Philo A. Hutcheson - Chair

Second Advisor

Phillip Gagne

Third Advisor

Dennis H. Thompson

Fourth Advisor

Fred E. Kiehle


Community college enrollment doubled during the 1940s and 1950s, but during the 1940s and 1950s, it was not common to compare male and female enrollment patterns. For this study, I disaggregated male and female enrollment information from four editions of American Junior Colleges (1940, 1948, 1952, and 1956) in order to explore the gendered meaning of access in regard to two-year colleges during the 1940s and 1950s. The analysis compared male and female enrollment and graduation in pacesetter states within the community college movement. By using descriptive statistics, I gave voice to a story that previously had been untold – the story of women’s access into one segment of higher education – two-year colleges. In order to provide context for the numbers I compiled, I investigated the literature on women in higher education in the post-World War II period – a literature almost completely focused on four-year institutions – to examine the degree to which that literature captured, or failed to capture, meanings of access for women. With the overcrowding in higher education due to the preponderance of veterans returning to colleges and universities immediately following World War II, women were often crowded out of four-year institutions. The two-year college provided a means for many women to enter higher education but did not provide them the same level of access as males. For the most part women had access to programs preparing them for the dual labor market and/or reinforced their status as wife and mother.