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Q: academic degrees in Britain ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: academic degrees in Britain
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: addie09-ga
List Price: $2.50
Posted: 05 Jan 2005 08:57 PST
Expires: 04 Feb 2005 08:57 PST
Question ID: 452393
What was the meaning of the title "decrees titular" awarded to female
students in Cambridge women colleges begore world war II?
Subject: Re: academic degrees in Britain
Answered By: answerfinder-ga on 05 Jan 2005 10:32 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear addie09-ga,
I believe the term you are seeking is ?degrees titular? or ?titular degrees?.

Women were not admitted to Cambridge University until 1921. They were
then only entitled to titular degrees by diploma. It was not until
1948 that they were granted full and equal status.

This is from a "Commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the first
admission of women to degrees of the University"

"...From 1882 women received a certificate on completion of their
courses, but not the title of a degree. From 1923 they did receive the
titles of degrees, but a different certificate from the men, and from
that which is used today. And they were still excluded from
participation in ceremonies; they were not allowed to wear University
gowns, and were allowed no part in the government of the University."

Another account appears in the personal papers of Sarah Emily Davies,
"In 1897 a syndicate was appointed to consider full membership of
Cambridge University. It recommended the admission of women to titular
degrees. The recommendation was rejected by 1707 votes to 661. This
was reported as "The largest vote ever taken upon an academic subject
with the history of the University". By 1897 all British universities
except Oxford and Cambridge admitted women as members on equal terms
with men. In 1904 Trinity College Dublin admitted women. For three
years, women who were in all but name graduates of Oxford or Cambridge
could apply for Dublin degrees. Over 250 Girtonians made use of the
privilege. In 1916 a decision was taken to admit women to the 1st and
2nd M.B. examinations (the 3rd M.B was not open to women until 1932).
This was the first concession since 1881. In 1919 women were admitted
to full membership at Oxford University. In 1920 Cambridge rejected a
further proposal to admit women by 904 votes to 712. In 1921 a Grace
admitting women to titular degrees was passed. It also gave women the
right of admission to University lectures and laboratories, thus
regularising the normal practice of over 40 years. However, women were
still not admitted to full membership of the University of Cambridge
until 1948. The papers listed here relate to attempts to gain women
membership of both Oxford and Cambridge universities."

This is from the memories of Alison Duke, who attended Girton College,
Cambridge in1934.

"As for my feelings (about the University of Cambridge) in the late
1930s, we were not so deprived as some of the earlier generations -
but I did resent the rather scruffy 'titular' degree statement, and
the absence of an actual graduation - a disappointing end, if one had
worked hard for a good degree. But I was very grateful that the
University elected me to a Graduate Scholarship - these awards were
nearly all open to women by my time."

I hope this answers your question. If it does not, or the answer is
unclear, then please ask for clarification of this research before
rating the answer. I shall respond to the clarification request as
soon as I receive it.
Thank you

Search strategy
No positive responses on decrees titular so tried
degree titular cambridge 
degree titular cambridge 1921

Request for Answer Clarification by addie09-ga on 06 Jan 2005 03:25 PST
The answer seems reasonable. My only hesitation stems from the fact
that I copied the term "decrees titular" (and not "degrees") from
Brenda Maddoxs's book Rosalind Franklin, the Dark Lady of DNA. The
word "decree" appears twice, so if its a printer's error, it's quite a
curious one. But I think I'll take your word for it, so thanks anyway.


Clarification of Answer by answerfinder-ga on 06 Jan 2005 04:57 PST
Dear addie09-ga,
I've just had a look at the book on using the 'search
inside feature'. I see the term appears on at least page 44. I also
saw the term "decree tit".

I searched on this and found an interview of Brenda Maddox in a radio
programme: The Dark Lady of DNA A Portrait of Rosalind Franklin,
broadcast on Saturday 27 December  2003. You will note see again uses
the term ?decree titular?.

"Brenda Maddox:
Well, as much as girls did in that era, this is 1938, she went there
and women were only one tenth of the undergraduate body, they didn?t
actually want to change the character of the university by allowing
females in and they weren?t even allowed to be full members of the
university. They didn?t get a degree, the got a decree and it was
called the Decree Titular, and then of course there were many jokes
about the Decree Tit, and you can see what it was like to be a woman
at Cambridge. But they were there and they didn?t mind, they were glad
to be there because they did get a good education and she got the
training for the profession in which she became superb."

This article on Rosalind Franklin (in Dutch) uses the phrase ?degree tit?.
"Destyds was dit 'n aartschauvinistiese instelling. Vroue kon nooit
meer as 10% van die studentebevolking uitmaak nie. Hulle moes hoor hoe
die feitlik uitsluitlik manlike dosente die gemengde klasse as
"gentlemen" aanspreek. Boonop kon vroue tot 1948 nie Cambridge-grade
verwerf nie: ná hul studies is net 'n vernederende degree tit.
("degree titular") aan hulle toegeken."

As there are no other references to this, I believe that there is the
chance Maddox is mistaken or it is a reference to the document or
diploma they were presented with as described by Alison Duke in my
answer above. During my research, I accessed the Times Newspaper
database and read many articles on the granting of degrees to women in
Cambridge University during the first half of the 20th century ? which
incidentally, certainly created a great deal of agitation in the
correspondents. I am sure the term ?decree titular? would have come up
in the articles.

I hope that this assists.

addie09-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
I received an excellent answer, succint,clear and complete.  A
response to my request for clarification was also extremely helpful. I
am more than satisfied.

There are no comments at this time.

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