Female Single Sex Education Discussion (March 1996)

Female Single Sex Education Discussion March 1996


>From Kriste Lindenmeyer and Todd Stevenson <KAL6444@tn.tech.edu> 01 March 1996

The cases of female entrants to the Citadel and VMI have made single sex education a topic in the press. This debate has stimulated discussion about the virtues of single sex education for males. However, a colleague and I are interested in finding secondary sources discussing the historical debate over retaining single sex education for females in the period after co-educational practices were the norm. We are familiar with Mary Field Belenky's _Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice and Mind_. Can H-Women subscribers offer any other suggestions? Thanks.


>From Ann Greene angreene@sas.upenn.edu 04 March 1996

Re: single sex education, you might try materials by the Sadkers at American University, who have done years of research on gender issues in the classroom.

>From Sara Romeyn <northrop@gwis2.circ.gwu.edu 04 March 1996

When I was an undergrad at Yale, I did a research paper on the entire struggle to add women to the college in the late '60s. I had a great time interviewing administrators involved in the decision, and came to the conclusion that the decision to co-educate was more an attempt to continue to attract top men than to allow women further opportunities(in other words, men were going elsewhere because they wanted co-ed school). The alumni mag has some pointed letters demonstrating that the school's mission to produce 1000 male leaders a year(I think Chauncy Brewster said this) should not be tampered with. Anyway, two women named Pepper Schwartz and Janet Lever wrote a book called _Women at Yale: Liberating a College Campus_. It was published in 1971. Good luck!

>From Miriam Reumann Reumann@aol.com 04 March 1996

I'm not sure this really gets at your question, but here's a case study from the 1980s and some suggestions for sources...

The Philadelphia High School for Girls(GHS) is one of the oldest all-female public high schools in existence(I believe there is/was an older one in Baltimore). This year will see its 240th graduating class. In 1982-3, several female students sued the school board to demand admission to the Central High School for Boys, located a few block away. Not surprisingly, Central had more money from alumnae, better connections, and -the point that their case hinged on-better science and math facilities. The girls won their case and Central became co-ed, but despite some debate, GHC is still single-sex.

There was a great deal of press coverage at the time, and much of it revolved around the case's contradictory relation to feminism, as both the young women suing to get into Central and the women who wanted GHS to remain all-female saw themselves as true feminists(although many didn't use the f-word.) I know that the two schools and the court case are discussed by education theorist and historian Michelle Fine in her collection _Disruptive Voices_. There are also histories of both high school, although I don't know authors or dates. Miriam Reumann(who can still sing the GHS alma mater in Latin.)

From: Nina de Angeli Walls 73730.1415@compuserve.com 08 March 1996

In reply to a query last week on the history of the transition from single-sex to co-ed education--I would start with Lyn Gordon's _Gender and Higher Education in the Progressive Era_. She lays out the issues using a comparative analysis of both types of colleges.