Man Without Qualities

Friday, May 14, 2004

Gandy v. Smith

NOW says it doesn't like single sex education:

But the National Organization for Women disputed the data and said separate classrooms are a dangerous step backwards — reinforcing stereotypes and breeding sexism.

"I think it's very difficult to make separate equal, even if you were to have the same teachers and the same curriculum, you don't have the same lively exchange and debate that you have if you leave out an entire gender," said Kim Gandy, NOW's president.

This NOW quote refers to primary and secondary education, but lively exchange and debate seems to be a lot less significant in primary and secondary education than it is in college, where students are supposed to have more knowledge and sophistication with which to engage in meaningful exchange and debate. And Ms. Gandy's observation obviously applies to both private and public education - as long as the student is able to choose whether to go to a co-ed or single sex school. (Ms. Gandy does not concern herself with choice or the ability of the student or anyone making a choice for the student to chhose wisely - her assertion is independent of choice.)

So isn't Ms. Gandy's argument a lot more applicable to single sex colleges than it is to primary and secondary education? Doesn't what she is saying imply that single sex colleges like, say, Smith College, are lacking in lively exchange and debate?

If so, Smith College, for one, doesn't seem to agree:

Today, of course, women have many options as they choose a college, but we have only become more convinced that, for many women, a women’s college is the best option. Providing the academic challenge, personal attention and wide-ranging opportunities you’d look for in any college are still our most important goals, but, as a women’s college, we think Smith offers some special bonuses. ... At Smith, women are the focus of all the attention and all the opportunities. ... Having a wide variety of female role models tends to boost the aspirations and career achievements of female college students. ... At Smith, faculty and alumnae offer outstanding role models. Leadership experience in college provides training and encouragement for leadership positions in your life, your community and your profession. At Smith, all of the leaders are women. ... At Smith, women can have a great social life. (Really!)

At Smith, there are no stereotypes about what women should do, but there are unlimited expectations about what women can do. Smith is a great training ground for careers that might still be considered non-traditional for women. At Smith, any career choice is an appropriate one. ... Even the Ivies can’t boast a network of thousands of successful women willing to share inside information about their professions with both undergraduates and other alumnae. It’s a lifetime guarantee!

At Smith, the “old boys’ network” becomes an “ageless women’s network.”

Of course, the world is coeducational. But Smith women enter it more confidently than women graduates of coed schools.

After Smith, the future is wide open.

Is Ms. Gandy saying Smith is bunk?

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