At the time of its opening in 1891, Stanford University admitted both male and female students, in large part because Jane Stanford had strong views about the importance of educating women. Despite their initial inclusion as students, in subsequent generations women at Stanford experienced a range of exclusions, including a quota system that limited undergraduate enrollment and a paucity of female faculty. By the late twentieth century, students and faculty members advocated for gender equity not only in admissions but in all aspects of university life.
Estelle B. Freedman, the Edgar E. Robinson Professor in U.S. history at Stanford and author of No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women,placed these tensions in the history of coeducation at Stanford within the context of national educational and political trends. Her talk incorporated manuscript sources in the University Archives and oral history interviews conducted by the Stanford Historical Society Oral History Program.