"It changed my life!" students in women's studies courses often say. Indeed, some surveys suggest that the feminist consciousness developed in such courses is not reversible, that it leads students to a new perception of their lives. But what are the attitudes of students who have not yet been exposed to women's studies (WS) courses? Do they know what WS is about? Do they think that knowledge of the past and present lives of women in the United States and other cultures will be pertinent to their personal and professional plans? Or do they reject WS as an inappropriate field of study at an academic institution or as a fad?
In Fall, 1979, I posed these and other questions to a randomly-selected group of 54 female first year students (average age of 18) at the University of California, Berkeley. I also asked them about their personal goals, their perceptions of the present situation of American women, and their opinions about the activities of the women's movement. (The complete report on which this article is based is available from the Women's Studies Program, University of California, Berkeley; a summary is forthcoming in Women's Studies International Quarterly.)