My Alma Mater went Co-ed (read: down the tubes)

My Alma Mater was founded as a Woman's College in 1891 and was made co-ed in 2007 (the reasons cited were dubious at best and they no longer have the support of 65% of the alumni). Just now, reading one of the Randolph-Macon Woman's College yahoo boards, I ran across this post from one of my sister alums Margaret McKean who teaches at Duke. She writes re. the benefits of single-sex education for women (for at least a portion of their schooling):

"Research done by Rose McDermott of Brown University (these are game theoretic experiments in learning and conflict resolution that she does with chemists and geneticists) shows that men suffer from an intractable problem she calls "unjustifiable overconfidence," which means they refuse to scale back their beliefs about their abilities even in the face of damning evidence that they are not actually as competent (say on tests of technical ability or knowledge) as they expected to be. Instead of the men who perform at the 20th or 50th or 80th percentile accepting that performance, each and every one of them ignores those test results and persists in believing that they are each at the 90th or 95th percentile.
Women turn out to take in reality much better (a woman who thinks she will perform at the 90th percentile who learns that she actually performed at the 50th percentile will take in that information and understand afterrward that her performance is in the middle of the range, not at the top).Putting these men and women together means that the men bluster on with overconfident aggression, the realistic women take in these claims but may imagine them to be realistic (after all, they will not in real life have tested the men for their competence the way the researchers in these experiments did!), and you have a chemically driven machine in which the men dominate whether they are able to function well or not. The only protection women have against being railroaded by unjustifiably overconfident men is an interlude when the women learn to perform tasks that the men would otherwise dominate. That will give them the knowledge base needed for spotting evidence that the men who claim to be competent are not, and perhaps also the confidence to challenge men who are in fact less able than the women are.
This is almost certainly hard wired, although traditional cultures are very likely to reinforce it. It means that some interval of single sex education is very desirable for women. There is no evidence, however, that men are helped to become more realistic and more justifiably humble through a period of single sex education for men."

Shit, any woman with a husband knows this! :-)
The unfortunate thing is, young women don't know it and the results are obvious at the newly dubbed Randolph College, where in just three years, Student Government has a majority of male members.

Explains a lot doesn't it?


Carol Davis said…
LOVE this! I'm printing and attaching this to my dad's birthday card ;)
Nicole said…
Aw, Randy Mac's student government is now majority male? When they make up 18% of the student population? That's awful. Even I didn't expect coeducation to lead to this (so soon anyway). I miss my alma mater, too :(
I desperately wanted to attend a women's college. I couldn't afford it. And now I live in a country where many many women went to girls only state run secondary schools, and oh my can they stand up for themselves and yet we still bow down.

It seems an impossible task this equality that we are still in search of when we tell our daughters that the facade of equality is the same thing.

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