1st Edition

Revolutionizing Women’s Education at the University of Oxford Single-Sex Colleges and Identity Theory, 1870-2022

By Dennis Ahlburg Copyright 2025
    280 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book delves into the impacts and consequences of the policy of co-residence at the University of Oxford, investigating why and how women were kept at the periphery of the university and how Oxford responded to the growing demand for higher education.

    The book further examines how the admittance of women into men’s colleges and vice versa ultimately shaped the identities of both the university and the student population. The author draws upon identity theory to explain the existence and persistence of single-sex colleges at the University and the theory of social epidemics or cascades is used to explain the rapid embrace of co-residence by the remaining men’s colleges after its adoption by the first five men’s colleges. In addition, the author uses both quantitative and qualitative approaches to evaluate claims about the impact of co-residence on undergraduate women, women dons, and women’s colleges.

    Unearthing and providing a sustained and in-depth analysis of a quiet, yet revolutionary, undertaking at one of the world’s most renowned institutions, it will appeal to scholars, faculty, and upper level students with interests in gender in education, educational inclusion and diversity, history of education, international education, as well as sociology of education and social theory.

    1. Introduction  2. A University for Men  3. The Demand for and Supply of Higher Education for Women  4. The Founding of the Women’s Colleges: Why Were the Women’s Colleges Founded?  5. Why Did Single-Sex Colleges Exist, Persist, and Perish?  6. New College Starts a Revolution  7. A Changing Environment- Context  8. A Revolution Accomplished: The Men’s Colleges  9. Revolution Implemented: Working Groups of the Colleges and Universities  10. The Women’s Colleges Admit Men  11. The Impacts of Coresidence  12. Did Coresidence Lead to ‘Each College Having its Statutory Woman Fellow, and No More?  13. Conclusion


    Dennis A. Ahlburg is Distinguished Professor of Economics Emeritus, Trinity University, Texas, USA. He has held Visiting Fellowships at Magdalen, Exeter, and New Colleges, University of Oxford.