The Relevance of Same-Sex Colleges


  •         The end of the male only college is nigh
  •         Being “women-only” offers options in the classroom
  •         Single-gender colleges encourage leadership
  •         Single-gender colleges encourage educational risk taking

While many female applicants when considering an all-female college are mildly unenthusiastic, for male applicants all-male colleges are almost extinct. The only secular male-only colleges are Wabash College (Indiana), Deep Springs College (which is a 2-year, tuition free, educational experience like nothing else on earth), Morehouse College (a traditionally all black male institution), and  Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. For females, on the other hand, there are a number of colleges to select among, though this number has dwindled down from 200 in 1980 to 58 today. Among the all-female schools still standing, many have some of the most beautiful campuses on the continent: Smith, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, and Bryn Mawr. A full listing can be found on Wikipedia:.'s_colleges_in_the_United_States.  

Granted, the number of National Historic buildings, of which Bryn Mawr alone boasts ten, is a fairly flimsy reason to attend an all-female college. There are, however, a lot of reasons a young woman might choose to spend four years among her own gender than to deal with the distractions prevalent at a coed college. Yet, claiming that attending an all-female college destines you to years of classes without a trace of the other gender misrepresents reality. Virtually all the remaining women’s colleges are either part of an extensive consortium, or have an associated coed institution either nearby or at its doorstep.  For example, if you attend Wellesley, you can cross register at MIT, or even earn a double degree (a BA from Wellesley and a SB from MIT in five years). Furthermore, if you attend Bryn Mawr, you’re part of a consortium that includes coed Swarthmore, Haverford, and the University of Pennsylvania; if you’re enrolled at Barnard, you’re in fact, as good as in Columbia, which has been coed since 1983.

Attending an all-female college does not preclude contact with males within the classroom; what it does is allow you to regulate just how much contact you desire: in other words it expands your options beyond what they would be attending a comparable coed college.

Admittedly, attending an all-female college is not for everyone. The schools themselves will tell you this. Most all-female college students are more intellectually driven, and have strong personal goals. They’re also a rare commodity: only 2% of bachelor’s degrees awarded are to graduates of women’s colleges. Yet despite their miniscule numbers, one-third of the women board members of the Fortune 1000 are from women’s colleges and of all the women members in Congress, a fifth attended women’s colleges. (The Washington Post, “Are Women’s Colleges Still Needed?” by Selena Rezvani, September 3, 2010) Something about all-women colleges obviously encourages leadership.

The atmosphere of same sex colleges is, in many ways, much more conducive to learning; students can dispense with worrying about appearances and all the posturing that having the opposite sex in the classroom might provoke. College should be a time for students to explore their intellectual development—consideration of the opposite sex serves mainly as a distraction. Taking risks and failing, at least initially, is critical to learning anything. If all-women college students stumble, most right themselves eventually: graduates of women’s colleges are twice as likely to earn PhDs in sciences, and finish medical school. Within a single sex college many students feel they are ensconced in a brotherhood or sisterhood of fellowship. Being a part of such a community makes risk taking not so frightening. And learning to take risks, frankly, is the quintessence of learning, of entrepreneurship, and of life.

Possibly in another decade or two, there won’t be any more single-sex colleges. Mills College, Scripps, Smith, and Mount Holyoke might all disappear or meld into the great wash of post-secondary offerings. I, for one, want to see a lot more women physicists, business leaders, and engineers producing unique solutions to pressing problems. I hope all-female colleges survive; they serve certain women well, and all of us are the beneficiaries.

 남자대학/여자대학의 정당성

  •          남자대학의 존폐위기
  •          여자대학의 다양한 제공
  •          리더쉽 강조
  •          모험성 강조

여학생들은 여자대학에 대해 약간의 흥미를 느끼지만, 남학생들은 남자대학에 대해 흥미가 전무하다.  대표적인 남자대학은 Wabash College (Indiana), Deep Springs College (2년제로 수업료 무료), Morehouse College(흑인다수 대학), Hampden-Sydney college in Virginia들이다.  반면, 여자대학은 다수가 있으나, 1980년도에 200개에서 현재 58개 줄었다.  여자대학 중에서 몇 대학들은 최고의 아름다운 캠퍼스에 있으며, 명문대학들이다: Smith, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mawr.  리스트를Wikipedia:'s_colleges_in_the_United_States에서 알 수 있다.

Bryn Mawr 대학이 10개의 National Historic 건물을 자랑하는 한다는 것은 존재 이유가 되기 어렵지만, 여학생들이 남녀공학에서 신경써야 하는 방해요소들에 구애없이 여성들끼리 누릴 수 있는 특혜가 많다.  또한 여자대학을 다닌다고 해서 전혀 남성들과의 교제가 없는 것은 아니다.  실제 여자대학들이 협력대학이나 교류프로그램으로 남녀공학대학들과 연계되어 있다.  예를 들면, Wellesley학생은 MIT에 등록할 수 있으며, 두 개의 학위(Wellesley의 BA; MIT의 SB)를 받을 수 있다.  또한 Bryn Mawr학생은 협력대학인 Swarthmore, Haverford, University of Pennsylvania에 다닐 수 있다.  만약 Barnard학생이라면, 1983년이래 공학이 된 Columbia University에 등록할 수 있다.

한편, 여자대학에 다닌다고 남학생과 공부하는 기회가 전혀 없는 것은 아니다.  만약 원한다면, 얼마든지 가능하며, 남녀공학에 다니는 이상으로 선택의 폭이 넓다.

여자대학이라고 모든 여학생에게 열려있는 것은 아니다.  이 대학학생들은 지적이어야 하며, 강하고 높은 목표가 있어야 한다.  숫자적으로도 나타나는데, 학사학위자의 2%만이 여자대학 출신이다.  이렇게 낮은 숫자인데도 Fortune 1000여성회원의1/3, 또한 여성 국회의원의 1/5이 여자대학 출신이다 (The Washington Post, “Are Women’s Colleges Still Needed?” by Selena Rezvani, September 3, 2010).  정말 여자대학들이 리더쉽을 고무시킨다고 할 수 있다.

여자대학의 분위기는 정말 공부하는 분위기이다; 남학생들의 시선 때문에 자세나 옷에 신경을 쓸 필요가 없다.  대학은 공부하는 곳이다.  지성을 추구하는데 연애는 방해만 될 뿐이다.  대학공부란 모험을 추구하는 것이다.  여자대학생들이 흔들릴지라도 궁극적으로는 잘 되어질 것이다.  여자대학 졸업생의 박사학위 취득이나 의과대학 졸업이 타 대학의 2배나 된다.  아무래도 같은 성별의 대학생들이 편안한 분위기에서 공부하며, 우애를 가지며, 모험을 두려워하지 않는 공동체를 만드는 것 같다.  모험심이 학업이나 사업이나 인생에 있어서 정수이다.

10년, 20년 후에는 같은 성별의 대학이 없어질 수도 있다.  Mills College, Scripps, Smith, Mount Holyoke대학들이 사라지고 다른 종합대학에 흡수될 수도 있다.  필자는 개인적으로 여성물리학자, 사장, 엔지니어를 기대한다.  그리고 모든 여자대학이 생존하길 바란다.  그러면 여성에게  뿐만 아니라 우리들 모두가 혜택을 누릴 것이다.