National Association for Women in Education

The National Association for Women in Education (formerly known as The National Association of Deans of Women, the National Association of Women Deans and Counselors, and the National Association of Women Deans, Administrators, and Counselors) was an American organization founded in 1916 by Kathryn Sisson Phillips to support female deans of women.

The organization closed in September 2000 when it merged with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.



Following large increases in the number of women in higher education in the late nineteenth century, the number of deans of women also grew, establishing it as a professional occupation. In 1913 a graduate study program was created at Teachers College, Columbia University for deans of women. Realising that an organisation was needed to coordinate training and connections for deans,[1] in 1915 Kathryn Sisson Phillips initiated informal meetings for the 26 women studying for the position at Teachers College for discussions, with their first formal meeting occurring at a meeting of the National Education Association on July 6, 1916. The association had begun publishing a yearbook by 1923 and a scholarly journal in 1938, the latter of which was edited by Ruth Strang.[2]


While operating as the National Association of Deans of Women, the group carried out research, ran scholarships, and produced pamphlets regarding female students and deans of women. A group for African American students, called the Association of Deans of Women and Advisers to Girls in Negro Colleges and Schools, was formed by 1935. After World War II the association advocated and lobbied organisations and higher learning institutions to retain and hire women in policy-making positions.[2] By the 1950s the organisation ran an annual meeting, a journal, and had over 1500 members.[3] In 1951 the association's members voted to retain their autonomy and focus on women and in 1953 worked with the American Council on Education to establish a Commission on the Education of Women, which was later disbanded in 1962.[2]

In 1956 then president Eunice Hilton announced that the organisation was being renamed to the National Association of Women Deans and Counselors. The 1960s saw the association's highest level of membership, with the organisation continuing to push for women's rights and equality. In 1971 the members again voted on the topic of merging with other education associations, with the result of remaining single-gender. By 1973, however, the organisation had decided to broaden its scope to other educational professions following the enactment of Title IX, renaming to the National Association of Women Deans, Administrators, and Counselors and began allowing men to join.[2]

In 1975 the association became the first organization in the United States to pass a resolution which refused to hold its conferences in states which hadn't ratified the equal rights amendment. By 1989 the association had taken on sole responsibility for the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, which provided support, networking, and awards for collegiate women, and continued to publish its journal Initiatives as well as running conferences including this one.[2]

In September 1990 the association voted to change their name to the National Association for Women in Education, an alteration which was implemented at the association's 75th anniversary conference in 1991. Marriot Management Services gave the association $125,000 in April 1996 to assist "the development and implementation of innovative leadership training programs for women within [education]" which led to the creation of the Institute for Emerging Women Leaders in Higher Education. In 1999 the association ran their first International Conference on Women in Higher Education, having taken it over from the University of Texas at El Paso.[2]


Increased competition from other associations, a lack of funding, and a decrease in single-sex organisations contributed to the association deciding to cease operating in 2000.[2] It left behind considerable funding to continue to support the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. [4]

Notable members

  • Una B. Herrick, on the membership committee of the National Association of Deans of Women and was member of the Deans of Women Western Conference[5]
  • Kate Hevner Mueller, editor of the NAWDAC Journal, 1960–1969.[6]


  1. ^ Linda Eisenmann (January 1998). Historical Dictionary of Women's Education in the United States. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 293. ISBN 978-0313293238. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Lynn M. Gangone (December 2009). "The National Association for Women in Education: An Enduring Legacy". NASPA Journal About Women in Higher Education. DeGruyter. 1 (1): 3–24. doi:10.2202/1940-7890.1002. S2CID 143553316.
  3. ^ Eisenmann, Linda (2006). Higher Education for Women in Postwar America, 1945–1965. JHU Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0801882616.
  4. ^ Kelly C. Sartorius (December 2014). Deans of Women and the Feminist Movement: Emily Taylor's Activism. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 187. ISBN 978-1137481344. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  5. ^ Binheim, Max; Elvin, Charles A (1928). Women of the West; a series of biographical sketches of living eminent women in the eleven western states of the United States of America. Retrieved 8 August 2017.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ Coomes, Michael D.; et al. (April 1987). "Kate Hevner Mueller: Woman for a Changing World" (PDF). Journal of Counseling and Development. 65 (8): 203–210. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.1987.tb00743.x. Retrieved 2019-03-03.

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