Are Women’s Colleges a Relic of the Past?
A recent op-ed from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, a local paper in Northampton, Mass., states that women’s colleges have no reason to exist anymore:
True, 150 years ago when women were excluded from male academies, colleges and universities, affirmative action was needed to create these special schools. We owe a debt of gratitude to women’s colleges for taking an early stand to fight discrimination, raise awareness of gender issues, and crack the glass ceiling in government, business and even academia itself.
But today, schools like Smith and Mount Holyoke, Wellesley and Mills, are hypocritical in their fight against gender discrimination since they are among the few remaining U.S. institutions allowed to exploit a federal loophole that permits them to segregate their own admissions on the basis of sex…
[There is no] empirical evidence that today’s young women do better in the classroom when set apart from more aggressive and assertive males. This might have been true in the past but it’s not true now, according to Wendy Kaimer, a women’s issues expert. Today’s women are thriving at coed colleges and in their careers.
You can read the whole article online (if you pay), or in full for free at the Smith Alum.net forums. Mildly put, the whole thing’s pretty outrageous. Both of us (Sarah and Amanda) are relatively recent alums, and I (Sarah) think I speak for both of us on this: Even 150 years after Seneca Falls, women’s colleges are very, very relevant.
Reading this, I thought, “Well, the author’s a man, what does he know about it!” I mean, he’s been living in the land of male privilege. Without some serious self-awareness, how could he know the benefits of a Smith education? But who’s this Wendy character? Why doesn’t she get it?
This is where it gets awkward: There’s no Wendy Kaimer, as far as Google and Amazon can say. However, there is a Wendy Kaminer. And she’s a Smith College alumna, class of ’71. So which is it: A noted “expert” that never wrote a book or article? Or a Smith College graduate whose words are being used against her alma mater?
Wendy? You out there? Anywhere?
While we wait on Wendy (apologies about the alliteration… again), what did you enjoy most about attending a women’s college?
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Tags: '71, male privilege, Mills College, Mount Holyoke, single-sex education, smith college, Wellesley, women's colleges