Women And Education, Part 2. Comment of the Day: “Ethics Heroes: The Sweet Briar Alumnae And Their Supporters”

BoysGirlsI held back on Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day because I wanted the get his context posted here first, which I did to some extent in Women and Education, Part 1. HT began with this, in response to my salute to the Sweet Briar alumnae for winning their battle to foil the school’s board and keep the all-women’s college open:

I’m…. I don’t know. I’ve stayed far away from this one, because while I understand and agree with everything you said; That the administrators have a duty to you know…. administer. That they were wrong to try to close the college for the reasons stated, that it was lazy, and cowardly, that in a vacuum this victory is a great thing…. I just can’t get past the fact that this school caters exclusively to women, directly breaks title IX, and generally feels ick to me. I just don’t think that it’s right for this school to operate the way it does.

This ‘victory’ comes directly on the heels of Tim Hunt, who was arguing for sex-segregated laboratory space, saying in part “what happens? You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and then they cry when you criticize them.” What he was saying, in context was that workplace relationships make the workplace more complicated than it needs to be…. What the media ran with was “He said that women cry and shouldn’t be in the lab!” It was a horribly awkward statement, and the idea of sex segregating labs is of… let’s say…. dubious merit… at best. But the blowback from this was so intense that Dr. Hunt, a Nobel prize-winning laureate who discovered the protein responsible for cell division, thus contributing directly to cancer research in a way more meaningful than any other living human being on Earth, was forced to resign. And this was also called a victory.

So let’s juxtapose that for a second. Sweet Briar sex segregates itself, and that’s OK. Hunt suggests sex segregating labs, and is harangued out of his job.

To this, Amy Tabb, a Sweet Briar alum, replied..

This is a tough one. I’m a SBC alum who also has a PhD in Engineering. Dr. Hunt’s comment was pretty idiotic, he may have meant it in jest, but he chose the worst possible time to deliver those comments. The rapid backlash has a lot to do with the speed of social media, and the backdrop of Biology labs where the PI has the power to kick you out, give you a dead-end project, or help you publish enough to get your own lab.

In the same week at the Dr. Hunt comments, in Science magazine’s (yes, THAT Science) advice column concerning an advisor who kept on looking down a post doc’s shirt during their meetings, the advice columnist — a woman — advised the post doc to suck it up because the advisor’s influence on the post doc’s career was too great to risk offense. And yet Biology has great numbers of women getting PhDs. I don’t know what the problem is, but clearly there is one. I mean, come on, people, it is 2015!

To address your other points, attending a single-sex college is the choice of the student. There ARE men’s colleges, still, though fewer since the military academies (such as VMI) were made co-ed, as they should have been since they are publicly funded. The remaining schools are privately funded. There are historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) too, and they are privately funded.

My experience at a women’s college is that all that static about gender norms is removed — what to study, career choice, how to act, etc., giving me a lot of freedom to decide how to spend my adult life.

Now here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day, in response to Amy, in response to Humble Talent, on the post Ethics Heroes: Sweet Briar Alumnae and their Supporters. I’ll have my own post on the topic of “gender segregated” higher education in Women and Eduction, Part 3.

“Hunt’s comment was pretty idiotic, he may have meant it in jest, but he chose the worst possible time to deliver those comments.”

Agreed. 100%. But do you think that it’s appropriate to remove a Nobel laureate from his lab for stumbling over a bad joke?

“There ARE men’s colleges, still, though fewer since the military academies (such as VMI) were made co-ed, as they should have been since they are publicly funded. The remaining schools are privately funded. There are historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) too, and they are privately funded.”

Awful argumentation. Both variants of Rationalizations 22 and 24, and factually untrue. I called out women’s only schools because we’re talking about SBC, but any group that caters exclusively to people based on race or gender would be on the top of the list of organizations I think are inherently unethical, that other groups might be doing the same thing doesn’t make the behavior right…. Which is why it’s important to differentiate between what’s “Right” and what’s “My right to do”.

As to the facts of gender and racially segregated colleges…. 48. That’s the number of women’s colleges in America. Compare that to 3 men’s colleges and 0 exclusively black colleges. (HBCUs started accepting people from different races decades ago.) I’d also, as a matter of splitting hairs argue that no college is exclusively privately funded, between bursaries, scholarships and assistance programs, I’d genuinely be surprised if there was a college out there that didn’t accept some kind of public money if we considered indirect payments. I know that isn’t how we look at it, but the taxpayer is basically awarding students money to give that money to organizations that discriminate, and that sits poorly with me.

“My experience at a women’s college is that all that static about gender norms is removed — what to study, career choice, how to act, etc., giving me a lot of freedom to decide how to spend my adult life.”

Your experience, and I’m sorry, because this is probably going to be offensive… But your experience is weak. Even if you want to argue that you didn’t have that freedom outside of a segregated environment (which I reject on it’s face…. between 55 and 60% of the college population is female currently, and women are in every. single. field. I’d bet that if there was a situation where a woman in a normal college felt that she was being discouraged from chasing her goal in almost any imagined way it would be front page news and someone would get fired.), what you’re describing isn’t freedom… it’s something akin to laziness, with undertones of entitlement. The college experience isn’t just learning what’s in the books, it’s also learning how to deal with people in an adult setting, segregated colleges bypass that learning.

 

42 thoughts on “Women And Education, Part 2. Comment of the Day: “Ethics Heroes: The Sweet Briar Alumnae And Their Supporters”

  1. The typos haunt me. As clarification; I know that because the schools are private (in the way we consider schools private) title IX doesn’t actually apply… But if we consider title IX a height to aspire to, this breaks the spirit of it.

    Also “Awful argumentation. Both factually variant of rationalizations 22 and 24, and factually untrue.” Should have read “Both variants of rationalizations 22 and 24 and factually untrue” I had started the other way around and then realized that I’d addressed them backwards in the paragraph, the essay writer in me needed to fix it but the proof-reader in me was asleep at the wheel.

    I’m looking forward to part 3!

  2. Though respectfully, I could not disagree more with HT. The temptation to equate black and white, men and women, and fall back on the “if the shoe were on the other foot” argumentation does us all ill on occasion, this being one.

    HT while I accept all that you say about women’s recent success in academic, surely you have noticed that in people of roughly 15 – 25 years of age, there’s a difference between men and women? Like, incredibly different.

    As the father of a daughter who attended a single-sex high school, and as someone who back in the day dated a few single-sex college ladies, the benefits were extremely clear: not to put too fine a point on it, but EVERYONE’S hormones are fully engaged at that point of our lives. To deny it is just foolish. The results are hugely predictable: guys act out and everyone is distracted.

    Here’s a perverse but true statement: all girls should attend all girls’ schools for a good chunk of their time at this age, whereas all boys should attend only co-ed schools.

    I get that this isn’t generalizable, but it’s true that guys naturally dominate conversations in classrooms, and are constantly acting out trying to show off to girls. Girls are just as bad, trying to “look good” for the guys. The ones who lose the most in that situation are girls, who get over-ridden. Hence the logic of separating girls to get some serious development time and experience at getting air time in class, out of the range of naturally dominating guys.

    This is not a fairness issue – this is a hormonal developmental issue, an issue that most of us with kids (and/or a long memory of what it was to be 17 or 20) can easily understand.

    There are plenty of places for parity and for rigorous pursuit of equal opportunity; but 100% forced gender mixing at that age is not one of them.

    • “Here’s a perverse but true statement: all girls should attend all girls’ schools for a good chunk of their time at this age, whereas all boys should attend only co-ed schools.”

      I think you mistyped this… Unless you’re suggesting that women do best on their own and boys do best while co-ed? I’ll get back to this point though, because I think the slip noteworthy.

      “The ones who lose the most in that situation are girls, who get over-ridden.”

      An interesting observation…. And I don’t disagree with it. All too often feminism tries to act like the differences between men and women exist only below the neck, and annoys me to no end. The one point I’d like to make for future consideration is that you’ve just conceded biological determinism, and while maybe it’s more obvious while we’re a mess of hormones, it’s foolish to assume that choices made later in life couldn’t be influenced by dimorphism. Absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand… But I’m going to bring this up the next time we talk about the wage gap.

      “Hence the logic of separating girls to get some serious development time and experience at getting air time in class, out of the range of naturally dominating guys.”

      This closely follows what I said in a reply to Amy in the previous thread… And I’m going to go back to the first point I quoted… “The problem to which sex segregated schools are a solution to seems to be that the genders somehow harm each other” But you’re actually saying that men by their nature damage women. You’ve gendered this, completely ignoring a generation of young boys pathologized by a lazy educating workforce because they aren’t ‘more like the girls’ and inflicted with Ritalin. If there’s an argument for sex segregation, the segregation should be equal. Having a boys and girls washroom isn’t discriminatory, having a girls washroom and a co-ed washroom is. 96.2% of sex segregated schools cater to women only. And maybe girls would learn to be more outgoing if they weren’t overshadowed by boys, maybe young boys wouldn’t have a 1 in 5 chance of being prescribed mood altering drugs if their teachers didn’t compare them to the girls, but I just can’t help but see this as throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The problems as you and I see them aren’t new…. But the response is… And I can’t help but think that there are much easier and reasonable measures to suggest before we suggest splitting everyone up.

      • “I think you mistyped this… Unless you’re suggesting that women do best on their own and boys do best while co-ed? I’ll get back to this point though, because I think the slip noteworthy.”

        It’s not a slip, I meant that; that’s why I called it “perverse,” because I recognize it doesn’t scale, at least in theory.

        Lots of societies have lots of parts of existence which are delineated by gender. There are boys’ private schools (“public” to them) in the UK. There are mens’ lodges and women’s huts in primitive tribes. There are sororities and fraternities in colleges; there used to be cotillions, and many many other customs.

        Heck, male/female is arguably the largest single biological / social distinctions in the history of mankind. And vive la difference.

        That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t tolerate considerable diversion around the norms, as in the case of LGBTs, that we shouldn’t make serious changes in the life of the military, of professions, of education – we should be able as an advanced society to not only tolerate but to nurture and grow from the kinds of diversity-from-the-norm that we experience.

        But it also doesn’t mean that abstract “oughts” ought to be applied randomly. Like for example your statement that “If there’s an argument for sex segregation, the segregation should be equal.” Why should it? I would argue that men benefit more from the presence of women than women benefit from the presence of men, in certain situations (and maybe the reverse in others).

        For example, business studies suggest that teams perform better with higher proportions of women, all the up to 90%. But not 100%. And I think age 15 – 20 falls into that as well: men benefit a lot more from the socializing influence of women than women benefit from the hormone-driven passion-to-conquer drives of men at that age. (Think of how much crime and violence is committed in the world – everywhere – by men aged 15 – 25).

        A little sexual segregation is a good thing: and there’ no natural rule that says it has to come in “equal” amounts.

        • “Lots of societies have lots of parts of existence which are delineated by gender. There are boys’ private schools (“public” to them) in the UK. There are mens’ lodges and women’s huts in primitive tribes. There are sororities and fraternities in colleges; there used to be cotillions, and many many other customs.”

          I don’t see how this is anything but a massive “Everybody does it” rationalization. The merits of an idea exist or they don’t, what someone else does is irrelevant.

          “But it also doesn’t mean that abstract “oughts” ought to be applied randomly. Like for example your statement that “If there’s an argument for sex segregation, the segregation should be equal.” Why should it? I would argue that men benefit more from the presence of women than women benefit from the presence of men, in certain situations (and maybe the reverse in others).”

          Because when segregation is equal, it’s called segregation, but when segregation is unequal, it’s called discrimination. So let’s call a spade a spade, if you’re arguing that the male/female relationship only benefits men, and we have to allow for and create safe spaces for femininity…. You’re advocating discrimination. And once we’ve correctly identified discrimination, I think it’s wrong minded to ask for proof that discrimination harms, as opposed to requiring proof that there is some kind of benefit inherent in the discrimination that makes it worthy of consideration on a utilitarian basis. The proof would be a comparison between similar institutions that showed the segregation actually had positive results…. And so far as I know, that data doesn’t exist.

          “For example, business studies suggest that teams perform better with higher proportions of women, all the up to 90%. But not 100%. And I think age 15 – 20 falls into that as well: men benefit a lot more from the socializing influence of women than women benefit from the hormone-driven passion-to-conquer drives of men at that age.”

          I haven’t read those studies… And that surprises me, as an avid anti-feminist, I try to keep up with the research. Could you link them? It’s not necessarily surprising that someone wrote about gender relations from a “Men hurt women with their manliness” perspective, but it’s surprising to me it would come out of a business publication.

          • Business publication in question is Harvard Business Review.
            Here’s the headline findings, then the link:

            There’s little correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.

            The research: Professors Woolley and Malone, along with Christopher Chabris, Sandy Pentland, and Nada Hashmi, gave subjects aged 18 to 60 standard intelligence tests and assigned them randomly to teams. Each team was asked to complete several tasks—including brainstorming, decision making, and visual puzzles—and to solve one complex problem. Teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance. Though the teams that had members with higher IQs didn’t earn much higher scores, those that had more women did.

            https://hbr.org/2011/06/defend-your-research-what-makes-a-team-smarter-more-women

            And there’s some similar research that women have a calming effect on trading operations; I’ll try and find that for you too.

            • I think I misread your comment…. That groups benefit from diversity is well documented… and counterintuitive to your point…. Which is why I thought you had a business publication that published an article on how a male presence negatively impacts women. Regardless: I shall read that tonight!

              • Fair point, I was imprecise. Though I think this particular research does double-duty, i.e. the presence of lots of men inhibit performance by women. Anyway, I’ll be curious to hear what you think.

          • ” The merits of an idea exist or they don’t, what someone else does is irrelevant.”

            I’d say that “merits” don’t “exist” at all. They are social constructs. To imbue them with some existential attributes is not just wrong, it’s a category mistake. It’s meaningless.

            What people DO is PRECISELY the point. The history of trying to deduce ethical principles from some abstract conception of natural law is a sorry history indeed. What people have found to be normal, ethical behavior over time and across cultures is not dispositive for any given culture, but it sure needs to be taken into account.

            This is not an “everybody does it” rationalization, it’s a counter-example to your claim of some abstract over-riding principle that applies to everyone in all cultures at all times. I

            • Oh for the love of… Sophistry! Words don’t mean things Charles! Even if I accepted that “merits” were social constructs…. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful descriptors of things. Ethics are a social construct, does that make them invalid? Say that. Here. I dare you. Meanwhile… You seem to be suggesting that group consensus is not only a factor, but has significant weight… As if consensus weren’t a social construct. Please.

              This is a textbook example of the “Everybody does it” rationalization.

              “1. The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it”

              This rationalization has been used to excuse ethical misconduct since the beginning of civilization. It is based on the flawed assumption that the ethical nature of an act is somehow improved by the number of people who do it, and if “everybody does it,” then it is implicitly all right for you to do it as well: cheat on tests, commit adultery, lie under oath, use illegal drugs, persecute Jews, lynch blacks. Of course, people who use this “reasoning” usually don’t believe that what they are doing is right because “everybody does it.” They usually are arguing that they shouldn’t be singled out for condemnation if “everybody else” isn’t.

              Since most people will admit that principles of right and wrong are not determined by polls, those who try to use this fallacy are really admitting misconduct. The simple answer to them is that even assuming they are correct, when more people engage in an action that is admittedly unethical, more harm results. An individual is still responsible for his or her part of the harm.

              If someone really is making the argument that an action is no longer unethical because so many people do it, then that person is either in dire need of ethical instruction, or an idiot.”

              • HT you and I are in violent agreement.

                Yes, ethics ARE a social construct, AND they are hugely useful. We wouldn’t have society without them. That doesn’t mean they were handed down by God or Darwin.

                “You seem to be suggesting that group consensus is not only a factor, but has significant weight… As if consensus weren’t a social construct. Please.”

                I’m saying EXACTLY that: group consensus IS a factor, AND it has significant weight, and it IS a social construct. Where’s the problem?

                If I may offer a constructive suggestion, the book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion explains all this beautifully. There are about five broad categories of ethics that the author defines; they are found in different mixes in different cultures (e.g. dietary restrictions, washing of hands, respect for symbols like flags, utilitarian arguments like ‘does it hurt anyone else,’ and respect for authority). Those different categories vary across cultures in their degree of emphasis, and differ even moreso in the particulars of their application.

                To claim that one approach to the relationship between the sexes is more ethical than another is, for lack of a better term, ignorant. There are many ways in this world of humanity to be ethical, and unethical, with respect to all sorts of issues. To notice how other people treat ethics is the essence of respect.

                You are confusing “everybody does it” with the important effort of getting our own heads out of our own behinds to notice and respect the different and totally valid set of ethical principles evolved by other cultures and sub-cultures.

          • “I think it’s wrong minded to ask for proof that discrimination harms, as opposed to requiring proof that there is some kind of benefit inherent in the discrimination that makes it worthy of consideration on a utilitarian basis. The proof would be a comparison between similar institutions that showed the segregation actually had positive results…. And so far as I know, that data doesn’t exist.”

            Actually,

            “Percentage of students scoring proficient on the FCAT
            boys in coed classes: 37% scored proficient
            girls in coed classes: 59% scored proficient
            girls in single-sex classes: 75% scored proficient
            boys in single-sex classes: 86% scored proficient.”

            Check out the article. It’s pretty good. http://www.singlesexschools.org/research-brain.htm

            • Very interesting article; tons of data. At the risk of over-simplifying, and at a very quick reading, it seems to suggest that both sexes benefit from some level of sex-segregation for some period of time at some point in their lives with respect to some subjects.

      • Humble Talent, I’m with you on that.There’s a lot of evidence that the segregation benefits both. (http://www.singlesexschools.org/research-brain.htm) There are 47 women’s college left and 3 men’s. I’d rather see 47 and 47. Title IX isn’t about homogenization, it’s about equal resources. It shouldn’t exclude a variety of options to address a variety of needs. By all means, make West Point go co-ed but instead of all military schools, pair VMI with a serious all-women’s military academy and make sure you’re putting equal funding into both. Sweet Briar used to have sever all-male campuses to choose from on the weekends and it pains me to see that’s changed. SBC and Hampden-Sydney need to solidify their unofficial relationship in a Title IX marriage already. That sort of pairing helps ensure a balance of available options as well as a balance of resources.

        • I don’t know…. Segregation smacks of “separate but equal” to me, and so there are a lot of things I’d be willing to try before resorting to segregation, but you’re right… If we’re going to go down that path… Actually being equal is important.

  3. When people ask Justice Ruth B. Ginsburg how many women should be on the Supreme Court, she answers six. After the shock sets in, she reminds them that this is how many men we have now and this is simply accepted as normal. Consider a world where 80% of congress were women and 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs not to mention the top management positions at your particular workplace.

    There was a time when women being barred from voting was considered normal until a group of women lead by women like Susan B. Anthony fought for years, often against other women, and refusing to back down. What many of those women, including Anthony, had in common was that they grew up Quakers, an unusual religious society which did have leadership equality, or something much closer, anyway. Women voted, participated in the discussion and decision making process. Those women truly thought that with the next vote after suffrage was achieved, women would have 50% of congress and every other elected field. It was a huge disappointment for them. What happened? The rest of the voters, both men and women, continued to see the imbalance as normal.

    Although only 2% of female college grades went to women’s schools, 20% of women in congress did and regularly 30% of women listed in top business positions. Statistics like this show that, while women’s colleges won’t single-handedly solve the remaining gender gap, they are a big part of the puzzle.

    The assumption is often that women’s colleges are part of the problem, that not having men around to compete with will leave them without the skills to compete and unable to cope when men are around. Yet somehow the reverse was, and is, never considered when looking at all-male environments. Before going co-ed, the idea of a VMI or UVA grad not knowing how to function with women around was, and is, ludicrous. That imbalance is driven by the same subconscious assumptions about women and their place in the world that leaves many assuming that women’s colleges are part convent, part finishing school, part angry lesbian commune, part slumber party complete with slow-motion panty-clad pillow fights—a combination of conflicting stereotypes and male fantasy. What it really is, is a removal of all of that imbalance until we no longer see it as normal and are no longer willing to put up with it.

    We fought hard to remove the overwhelming exclusivity of access to higher education to men that once existed but that doesn’t mean we need completely homogenized educational choices. What we need is 50% of congress, SCOTUS, executive suites, research funding and equal pay. Those are the archaic monuments to the past that need to go and the above statistics show that single-sex education is at least part of what’s going to get us there.

    On the subject of science, Hunt and his comments, the more we look at the gender gap in the field of science the more we’re hearing and reading similar anecdotes like Amy Tabb’s. In the past year I’ve read an account from a high school honor’s math student whose teacher regularly takes twenty minutes of class time to answer questions from the boys but hers are often answered with a quick list of page numbers in the book she’s already read, a college student who is forced to do all projects alone without the benefit of peer discussion groups because none of the all-male students will accept a women in their groups, and a science museum assistant who regularly sees parents steer their girls away from the science based projects and towards the arts and crafts. The field of science, it seems, is one of the hold-outs of what we perceive the place of women to be. If Hunts’ comments were indeed an isolated incident, I absolutely agree it was wrong for the school to throw him under the proverbial bus. I did not, however, see a large number of his female colleagues rush to his defense and let the public know that he did not regularly blame interoffice relationship issues exclusively on the women, that he simply was not word smith and that was just how it came out. That’s why I suspect that comment was the tip of the proverbial iceberg. If that is the case, then, yes, he deserved the bus trip.

    • I liked this comment… It was thoughtful!

      “When people ask Justice Ruth B. Ginsburg how many women should be on the Supreme Court, she answers six. After the shock sets in, she reminds them that this is how many men we have now and this is simply accepted as normal. Consider a world where 80% of congress were women and 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs not to mention the top management positions at your particular workplace.”

      I think that there are two kinds of equality: Equality of opportunity, and equality of outcomes. When someone asks “how many women should be in SCOTUS?” You’ve already fallen to camp politics. If those six suggested women were genuinely the best people for the job… I’d be 100% behind a majority female SCOTUS…. But a statistically improbably proportion of Obama’s nominations have been minority/interest groups, and I just don’t trust him not to appoint people less qualified than others based on the color of their skin. The reason we don’t have parity at the top isn’t because women aren’t being hired or elected… I think Hillary puts the lie to that… It’s because fewer women choose to run. And we can discuss why that is, but studies have started to show that employers are so desperate to hire women to make quotas, that female applicants are being hired at a rate double that of men per application.

      “Although only 2% of female college grades went to women’s schools, 20% of women in congress did and regularly 30% of women listed in top business positions. Statistics like this show that, while women’s colleges won’t single-handedly solve the remaining gender gap, they are a big part of the puzzle.”

      If that’s true… I’d almost be ready to concede the point. I’d love for you to cite that. Those are STUNNING statistics.

      “The assumption is often that women’s colleges are part of the problem, that not having men around to compete with will leave them without the skills to compete and unable to cope when men are around. Yet somehow the reverse was, and is, never considered when looking at all-male environments. Before going co-ed, the idea of a VMI or UVA grad not knowing how to function with women around was, and is, ludicrous.”

      My opposition was more to the inherently discriminating nature of X only organizations, coupled with the inherent waste in duplication of efforts and the ineffectiveness of the system as a whole. If however, these institutions are as effective as those numbers say they are… That’s profound. I admit in my previous post I suggested that the women coming out of places like SBC might have difficulty adjusting into co-ed environments (I’m not entirely convinced that some won’t… But that’s an argument of scope.), I just want to be clear that that belief does carry on to men, I just don’t see the assertion that this is ludicrous as a self-evident truth.

      “We fought hard to remove the overwhelming exclusivity of access to higher education to men that once existed but that doesn’t mean we need completely homogenized educational choices. What we need is 50% of congress, SCOTUS, executive suites, research funding and equal pay. Those are the archaic monuments to the past that need to go and the above statistics show that single-sex education is at least part of what’s going to get us there.”

      No…. This starts to lose me again… This is the opportunity/outcomes paradigm. I don’t think that there are sufficient barriers to entry for women who truly want to succeed in their chosen careers compared to men. I’ll debate the wage gap with you with pleasure: In raw numbers, yes, it’s there… But then when you control for overtime, education, and experience, it disappears, and when you sort the demographics into age groups, women under 30 out earn their male counterparts by up to 10% AFTER controlling for overtime, education and experience.

      “In the past year I’ve read an account from a high school honor’s math student whose teacher regularly takes twenty minutes of class time to answer questions from the boys but hers are often answered with a quick list of page numbers in the book she’s already read”

      I’m skeptical. If a Nobel prize laureate can get shitcanned for a joke that fell flat, I just can’t imagine outright sexism like this from a high school math teacher would be tolerated. I can actually… I’m remembering stories like the blind kid who was given a pool noodle as punishment, or the kid expelled for taking a knife away from a classmate attempting suicide… can we just agree that the public school system really needs an overhaul? I’m not going to say these kinds of things don’t happen… But they don’t happen just to girls, and this isn’t the oppression Olympics.

      “a college student who is forced to do all projects alone without the benefit of peer discussion groups because none of the all-male students will accept a women in their groups.”

      Again, I’m not going to say that this didn’t happen… It very well might have. And those guys were asses. But on average this is almost a statistical impossibility. The rate of women to men in campuses hovers around 6:4 and is only widening… If all the men in the average class banded together like assholes,it would still leave a majority of the class to group with. And as an aside… Talking about parity like it’s something to aspire to… What’s your opinion on the decreasing participation rate of young men in post secondary education?

      “If Hunts’ comments were indeed an isolated incident, I absolutely agree it was wrong for the school to throw him under the proverbial bus. I did not, however, see a large number of his female colleagues rush to his defense”

      Not in the way you put out there, but there have been an awful lot of voices saying things to the tune of “What he said was stupid, but he didn’t mean it the way people are taking it, and this has gone far too far”

      http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4477447.ece

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/female-professors-call-for-fingerpointing-in-tim-hunt-sexism-row-to-stop-10333685.html

      http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/06/20/sir-tim-hunt-defended-nobel-p
      rize-winners-comments-female-scientists_n_7628264.html

      • Right after promising myself I’d proofread before posting…

        “I don’t think that there are sufficient barriers to entry for women who truly want to succeed in their chosen careers compared to men.”

        What I meant was that I don’t believe that women are actually being kept out of positions, but that it’s a matter of self-selection.

  4. Apologies for the delay in responding, HT. I’m very active in the Saving Sweet Briar movement so, as you can imagine, I’ve got a lot irons in the fire at the moment. Here goes:

    “Although only 2% of female college grades went to women’s schools, 20% of women in congress did and regularly 30% of women listed in top business positions. Statistics like this show that, while women’s colleges won’t single-handedly solve the remaining gender gap, they are a big part of the puzzle.”
    “If that’s true… I’d almost be ready to concede the point. I’d love for you to cite that. Those are STUNNING statistics.”

    http://www.womenscolleges.org/sites/default/files/report/files/main/why_a_womens_college_ebook.pdf The Women’s College Coalition keeps a useful collection of research and statistics, most of which are very well done (although I’d warn that the Sax study suffers from sample bias but not really relevant here). You can always confirm the women in Congress with your own research here http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/levels_of_office/Congress-Current.php though I’d remind you in most those cases you’d be looking at the 250 or so women’s colleges of the 1950s and ’60s, rather than the 47 remaining today. Here’s a challenge, think of a few female leaders in business or politics at random, then look them up and find out where they went to school.

    Those stats including the 1.5 times more likely a women’s college student is to major in the hard sciences than a women at a co-ed school. In fact, many of the women going into freshman year intending to major in the hard sciences will change it to the softer sciences before graduating, which brings me to…

    “…a college student who is forced to do all projects alone without the benefit of peer discussion groups because none of the all-male students will accept a women in their groups.”

    “Again, I’m not going to say that this didn’t happen… It very well might have. And those guys were asses. But on average this is almost a statistical impossibility. The rate of women to men in campuses hovers around 6:4 and is only widening… If all the men in the average class banded together like assholes, it would still leave a majority of the class to group with. And as an aside… Talking about parity like it’s something to aspire to… What’s your opinion on the decreasing participation rate of young men in post secondary education?”

    Your assertion assumes that the number of female students in higher ed. spreads equally among the subjects. It doesn’t. I believe the above was an advanced physics course. I was just speaking to a woman this weekend who described a professor who constantly made comments about the women in his captive audience. “The brain is shaped like a boxing glove, but you wouldn’t know what one looks like, would you, because you’re girls,” was one of many examples. She had intended to major in the subject but after a semester of this, knowing she’d be listening to it for 4 years, she changed it. When Bill Gates was asked why he doesn’t hire more women, he says it’s because they don’t get a lot of female applicants. I’m sorry I can’t find it again, but I read another article over that last year about a study which showed that, in elementary school, girls tend to score higher than boys in math and science but feel less confident of their answers and abilities. Over time, this changes for the worse and their grades in those subjects drop followed by their interest. This is why it’s important we don’t lose SBC as one of two women’s colleges (the other is Smith) that offers an engineering degree.

    ” I’m not going to say these kinds of things don’t happen… But they don’t happen just to girls, and this isn’t the oppression Olympics.”

    Yes, it happens to a lot of groups, particularly those that don’t fit into the high school idealized version of Ken and Barbie but I can’t fix everything. I know one thing that helps undo the damage for one group, that’s disappearing and I’m fighting for it.

    “I don’t know…. Segregation smacks of “separate but equal” to me….”

    Yes and no. There are two things that make this profoundly different from the segregation era. One is that the “equal” part was a bold faced lie; otherwise the bus would be separated left and right, not front and back. Second, is about educational focus. Historically black colleges render similar statistics particularly with performance level in graduate schools. I can’t speak to this from personal experience but I suspect it’s a combination of undoing internalized racism, similar to what women’s colleges accomplish, and counteracting the lag in educational quality created by lower public school and library funding due to localized poverty. What you get with this type of segregation is a more focused education with your particular needs in mind. What did the other type of segregation get you? A more focused bus ride? No, it was a daily ego boost to those already in power and a slap to the egos of those who weren’t.

    “What I meant was that I don’t believe that women are actually being kept out of positions, but that it’s a matter of self-selection.”

    ^^YES!! THAT’S THE POINT! These statistics demonstrate that women are less likely to self-select in the same manner if they spend some time in a women’s college.

    • Your two posts on this issue made my planned Part 3 on the matter both superfluous and too difficult to write without cribbing from you. (Your very last point here was to be a linchpin of my essay.) I’m going to repost your combined commentary. Thanks—this is excellent.

        • Don’t get too down on yourself, I think he means this as an honor. And as a bonus, if you’ll consider it as such, you’ve swayed me. I still think we need to be careful on how we administer these spaces, and I think that we need to be prepared to allow for the logical mirror (I have the feeling that an attempt to open a men’s only college would be met with an undue amount of grief.), but I have to admit, you make a real and eloquent argument for the competency of a sex-segregated system. I’m going to dig a little deeper, but this was a really good discussion. Thank you.

            • I DID take it that way and I’m very flattered. I wasn’t aware of this blog before the situation came up but I have come to appreciate the quality of commentary and discussion. Believe me, after arguing in circles on WaPo and other outlets for months, it is a HUGE bonus to have swayed you, HT. You’re a tough cookie and it reassures me that maybe my time there wasn’t completely wasted either. I have a feeling I’ll be dropping back in here after chasing WaPo tails in the future.

  5. Humble Talent, I had a difficult time taking any points seriously after reading that Sweet Briar College “generally feels ick to me.”

    Have you visited Sweet Briar College? Do you know any of its alumnae?
    If not, such a poorly worded, sloppy generalization seems very ick to me.

      • I understand your point. However, describing a college as “it generally feels ick to me” comes across as a sweeping and unfair categorization.

        • As it would to someone unfamiliar with EA terms. Point taken. However, this is also an ongoing forum, and those who visit and comment regularly reasonably assume they will be understood when they use the coin of the realm.

    • My caring level is low. I don’t comment here for the random passerby, I have discussions with the exceptionally intelligent subsection of the internet that comments here regularly. Even the people who I disagree with, and there are several, I feel offer more to the discussion than the average boob in the comment sections of damn near anywhere else.

      And if in that conversation, we use terminology that you don’t understand the context of, that’s on you. (This probably falls under the Niggardly principle, come to think of it.)

      • I’ll have you know that my defense of “ick” just got me a nasty note from a “passerby” mocking my “three fans” in this “echo chamber.” He/She also seems to think you and I are the same person. The comment was so snotty I had to ban whoever it was.

  6. I’ve been leaning toward a private girls’ high school for my kiddos. This discussion has persuaded me to go down that path. Now to get my husband on board!

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