In protest, women audition for Harvard's Hasty Pudding

Women in Hollywood have fought for decades to get an equal share of the spotlight, but the same issues are playing out on stage at Harvard University, where its legendary Hasty Pudding Theatricals is keeping an all-male cast this year despite pushback from students to admit women.

In a historic move this past weekend, more than two dozen women auditioned for the cast in an act of protest, reports CBS News contributor Jamie Wax.

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Hasty Pudding Theatricals

It's the country's oldest collegiate theater group and has been writing and performing shows for more than 170 years. Famous Pudding alumni include U.S. presidents, a Supreme Court Justice, actor Jack Lemmon and CBS' own, Mo Rocca. Actresses Stockard Channing and Rashida Jones also played a role in the Pudding, but strictly behind the scenes.

Because while female students have worked as writers, producers, and crew, the only women who've appeared on stage in Hasty Pudding productions aren't really women at all, but men dressed as women. Drag, according to the group, is what makes it unique.

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Hasty Pudding Theatricals

"Having an all-male cast is an artistic decision. Presenting men in women's roles is the Hasty Pudding's artistic trademark," the group wrote in a statement to "CBS This Morning."

But some students, like Harvard seniors Olivia Miller and Tess Davison, think it's time for the group to open the stage door to women.

"It's just a matter of readjusting that tradition to be more open and embracing the entirety of the tradition of drag, which would be men in drag and women in drag," said Miller.

They auditioned for the group over the weekend and convinced others to follow suit.

"There's really no equivalent on campus for female performers. There are theater opportunities, but nothing where we would have the opportunity to work with a professional director and choreographer," Davison said.

The lack of female performers gained the attention of Amy Poehler earlier this year. While accepting the group's Hasty Pudding Award on campus, she addressed the issue, saying it was "unsettling" that there would be no women on stage that night.

"You know it's time for a change when the Augusta National Golf Club has lapped you in terms of being progressive," Poehler said.

Poehler's words inspired Miller and Davison to take action.

"While a lot of progress has been made across campus there are those groups that somehow slip through the cracks," Miller said.

Although neither women were called back after their audition, the aspiring actresses say getting cast wasn't their only goal.

"We're very optimistic that this conversation will continue whether or not it happens or not tomorrow or in a year," said Davison.

The women say there is already a buzz of change on campus. On Friday, one of Harvard's eight all-male and highly exclusive social clubs invited women to be considered for membership for the very first time.