Table of Contents
Last few decades many of the women colleges that formed in the late 19th and early 20th century are transforming to coeducation colleges and universities. This transformation has become a controversy to many activist and raised challenging debates among many scholars. It is the highest time to change the colonial rationale in the system of education. Male and female colleges in America started on the ground of European imperialism, which disregards the female gender. Both male and female students are equal, and they should compete in the same environment and take the courses as per personal potential not because of sexism. Transforming women colleges to coeducation is the best initiative to end gender-based discrimination.
History, Facts & Statistics
The History of Women and Education state that in the 18th century the presence of women in school was an adventure. It was the era when women enter into school for the first time in the history of America. During this time, the women education was less regarded in the society. The education curriculum for the women had myriad of problems. The education system was not academic, and a single teacher taught them different subject as per their knowledge. The common subjects taught were craftwork, music, dressmaking, weaving, and dance (3). The majority of them interrupted their studies in the process as a result of teachers boycotting due to meager pay. In the 1815, women started to fight for the same academic as the male counterpart, which increased their numbers in primary and secondary schools (7). The first half of the 19th century, it was a challenge for women to get the higher education. The only post-secondary education for women was a seminary that mainly taught on the motherhood. In 1850s, women entered in the teaching staff due to the shortages of teachers and their demand for less pay. During this time, there were more than 30000 shortages of teachers in schools and women were only paid a third of the salary paid to the male teachers (9).The second half of the 18th century there was an influx of women colleges in the United States although they offered few courses. In 1962 women, movement starts to fight for coeducation they were not successful due to sexism that existed during that time. African American women were more prejudiced in the 19th century, there were only 140 African American women in colleges by 1862, and they never graduated in time (10).
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The number of female gender colleges has significantly reduced in the last five decades. According to Burton, the number of female single-gender colleges in 1960 was 200, which reduced to currently 60 colleges for female only. The major cause of this reduction is the effort of reducing gender discriminations and biases. The legislature between 1960 and1970 forced many male gender specific colleges to go coed. Coed Colleges and female colleges in America led to gender inequality in higher education. The female students are now the majority of the university and college students. Female students in colleges and universities they are more than half of the total number of students in colleges. The women gender specific colleges they aim in promoting the quality of education to women to empower them. In spite of women excellence in education, they are normally underpaid compared to amount and condition of work.
Mount Holyoke College is a women college founded in 1837. It is among the few colleges that remain as exclusive female gender college. The College main campus is located in Massachusetts, United States and it mostly focuses on liberal arts courses. The college was initially seminary but incorporated academic studies in the process. It was given chatter in 1834 to become a college until 1888 it was a seminary and a college at the same time. The college was the first to admit African American female student who graduated in 1862 (Adamo et al. 212). For a long time, it has admitted bright female students from a poor background. The college has the aim of empowering all women in society irrespective of their social, economic backgrounds. The college is among the most selective colleges in the United States. In 2016 the college admitted only 598 students out of 3,858 applicants, the average SAT score for entry was 620 and an average high school GPA of 3.54 (230).
Vassar College is one of the colleges that were initially uni-gender female college the transform to coed. Vassar College is private college, established in 1861 and founded by Mathew Vassar (Rowe and McCleary 20). The college was the first in United States history to offer a female education comparable to the male’s education. It was the first education institution to get chatter to offer female degrees. For many years, the college admitted female students from the wealthy background. Initially, the college administrators were all male while the teachers were female. The college transformed to coeducation in 1969. In 2017, ranking the college was position 12 in offering liberal arts courses. The colleges have a selective rate of 26.4% (Cowan 45).
Vassar College is a typical college that is changing with social changes experienced in the society. The majority of members of society are the knowledgeable end all the forms of gender discriminations. The college changed to coed to integrate both genders in its education system. Vassar College eliminated a situation of exclusively having a female gender, which is detrimental to society. Having the female gender only in colleges create an environment where the female-only focus on their gender, which is unproductive. Vassar College can create a competitive environment where both genders have an equal opportunity of pursuing their dream. Integrating both, genders in the same learning environment create a conducive environment for study since students can examine and define the strength and weakness of their gender through interactions.
The Case for Transgender Students
The case of transgender in the admission of the single gender schools raises a big concern on the criteria used to admit students. As much as they have right to education as per their physical challenge, such students are mainly excluded in single gender colleges. The majority of them they are forced to hide their gender during admission so that they can study alongside with females or males. A good example is Kevin Murphy who hides his gender all through his study in a Massachusetts women’s college until his graduation where he discloses to be male. The majority of the transgender faces discrimination in gender specific colleges. Morehouse College, which is all male school banned dress, purses, and pumps to all its students (Chen). This humiliates transgender who may be schooling in the school but may like to identify with female privilege.
During colonial era in America, women education was like a taboo in American society. Following the struggle of the women, they started getting elementary and high school education at the beginning of the 19th century. At the termination of the 19th century, few colleges and seminary started offering higher education to women. It led to an influx of women gender specific colleges and universities, which reached the climax in 1960. Feminism, which aroused in the 1960s has made significance drop in colleges specifically meant for women. Most of them have become coed. The majority of gender specific colleges and universities fail to address the cases of transgender amicably. To end the discrimination and bias that exist regarding gender, there is a need of changing the few existing colleges, which are for a specific gender to coed.
- “NWHM Exhibit: The History of Women and Education.” NWHM Exhibit: The History of Women and Education. National Women History Museum, 1997. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
- Adamo, Julie, et al. “Building Research Data Services at Mount Holyoke College.” 2017.
- Burton, Brian. “The End of the Women’s College?” Harvard Political Review. N.p., 05 Nov. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
- Chen, Stephanie. “Male, female or neither? Gender identity debated at same-sex colleges.” CNN. Cable News Network, 08 Nov. 2010. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
- Cowan, Robert. “ACDC Agency: Food Politics with Community College Students at Vassar.” Radical Teacher 107 2017, pp. 45.
- Rowe, David E., and John McCleary, eds. Ideas and Their Reception: Proceedings of the Symposium on the History of Modern Mathematics, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, June 20-24, 1989. Academic Press, 2014.