Single sex education in the twenty first century – undergrads of Bryn Mawr College, what’s your opinion?

There seems to be a particularly enduring interest in debating whether single-sex education at any level is beneficial or harmful for students. Does the media attention to this issue reflect real concern, or an ongoing narrow focus on gendered divisions in educational experiences that has existed since before M. Carey Thomas’ time? Whatever your opinion, it’s important to celebrate how far we’ve come from the times when a Philadelphia doctor told M. Carey Thomas that students of Bryn Mawr would be physically damaged by studying at college level … if you don’t believe us listen to the woman herself in this extract from a radio speech in 1935…mcareythomas1935

A quick google scan of news articles reveals a steady stream of studies and academic debates about the pros and cons of having separate educational environments for girls and boys. It seems that this discourse knows no geographic boundaries – research has been conducted worldwide with no overall conclusive results being offered. Jaclyn Zubrzycki on the Education Week site discusses a report on the publicly run schools in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago which found that while single sex education benefits some girls, it doesn’t prove beneficial to all girls or boys (see and, as previously referred to, our own President McAuliffe contributed an important piece to a series of articles in the New York Times last semester (see President McAuliffe’s recent piece in the New York Times

So what do you think? We’ve come a long way since women were banned from entering the male bastions of higher education and single-sex education emerged as a remedy to counter the prejudiced policies of these all-male institutions. So, what now? Maybe the fact that Bryn Mawr was a single-sex college did not enter your decision making process to attend …. or maybe you specifically wanted to come here because of this. Maybe you never thought about this until you got here…. maybe you think co-education as you experience through the tri-co is a positive experience you would like more of …. If you would like to have your say then we want to hear it! Your essay will be published on the new site of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education (coming soon!) and the winner will receive a $500 cash prize. The competition is open to all current undergraduate students of Bryn Mawr College and the closing date for entries is January 27th 2012 so hurry up and get writing! (see here for the poster originally announcing the competition which you should have seen all over campus Greenfield Essay Competition)


One thought on “Single sex education in the twenty first century – undergrads of Bryn Mawr College, what’s your opinion?

  1. Pingback: Ever wondered what M. Carey Thomas sounded like? If so, listen up! | Educating Women

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