A national conference, "Beyond Sexism: Educating Women for the Future," was held November 9, 10, and 11 at Mills College in Oakland, California with the purpose of sharing new ideas and new questions on the future of women's education. Approximately 500 women (and a handful of men), many of them from the California state college and university system, attended the Ford Foundation sponsored conference.
I arrived in Oakland with luggage consisting for the most part of boxes and folders of papers, newsletters, and brochures from the University of Massachusetts School of Education Women's Caucus and the University's Everywoman's Center, a tape recorder and eleven two-hour cassettes, and my fist-in-symbol button. It was too soon apparent that the button was inappropriate, the tape recorder superfluous, and the paper stuff from home uniquely innovative. I was disappointed by a general absence of feelings of sisterhood and by the trappings of a hierarchical star system that is characteristic of women seeking room at the top. Mostly I was disappointed by the absence of women asking hard questions. There was, for example, minimal exploration of the relationship of educational institutions to the cultural and economic structures in the society or the validity of the university as it now exists.