Since the end of World War I, many colleges and universities across the United States have recorded data on their incoming first-year classes. The surveys still in evidence at Bowdoin cover a wide range of topics including race, family educational background, religious preference, marital status, home location, and reasons for attending college. Until the early 1970s, the data Bowdoin collected was, for obvious reasons, not broken down by gender. In the fall of 1971, however, Bowdoin admitted its first coeducational class and began to tally responses according to sex. The page of the survey (Document SW, 35) presented here documents the probable major field of study and career occupation, for the incoming freshmen for fall of 1975.
In terms of likely major field of study, men and women make up similar percentages in the responses of biological sciences, education, physical sciences, social sciences, and other nontechnical fields. While men make up notably higher percentages in choosing business, history/political science, and mathematics and statistics, women make up notably higher percentages in selecting English, humanities, and undecided.
In terms of probable career occupation, men and women have similar percentages in indicating educator (college teacher), health professional (non M.D.), and farmer or forester. Men make up notably higher percentages in selecting businessman, doctor, and lawyer, while women make up notably higher percentages choosing artist, research assistant, and “other occupation”. It is also important to note that roughly 20% of male responses and 25% of female responses remain undecided.
As this survey data indicates, from the start of its transition to coeducation, the women who entered Bowdoin’s student body had a range of academic and career interests that they hoped to pursue while at, and after attending, the College.