|Mona Lisa Smile is a movie about a young professor from California who takes a job at Wellesley College, a prestigious women’s college, in the 1950’s. The young professor is played by Julia Roberts. Julia Stiles and Kirsten Dunce play several of the girls.
During the movie, Julie Roberts’ character struggles greatly with the attitude of both the Wellesley administration, who want her to teach a traditional curriculum, and the students, who are looking forward to getting married. Roberts’ character wants the students to think and challenges them to achieve higher academic and career goals. However, most of the girls in the movie are planning on getting married and starting a family, not a career. The movie illustrates the changing roles and attitudes of women in American society in the 1950s and how difficult that was for many people.
What struck me most was how different I would have been if I’d grown up in the 1940s and how little understanding and tolerance women of my generation have for the women of previous generations. While being a mother and housewife is certainly still a respectable career, we have little patience with someone who doesn’t understand the importance of our outside the home career. Not too long ago, it would have been unheard of for most of us to have the careers we have. I don’t think we realize how much we’ve changed in such a short time.
Just in case after seeing the movie, you think Wellesley College is a school for coeds looking for husbands, you should know that many, many prestigious women have graduated from Wellesley, such as Madame Albright and Hillary Clinton. And 5% of the women that sit on Fortune 500 boards graduated from Wellesley, according to author Harvey Mackay.