Many of the major newspapers have been covering the recent decision of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College to admit men. We are saddened by this news because women’s colleges, while extremely worthwhile in mission are increasingly unpopular – at least when it comes to attracting money. Anyone who argues that women’s colleges are not worthwhile endeavors is simply arguing from a point of ignorance.
From a blog called Save Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, we found this snippet alluding to a very telling piece of research:
“A significant new study by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research demonstrates that the predominance of women in undergraduate higher education should not lead people to believe there is no longer any need for women’s colleges. The study documents what we have known at Mary Baldwin for nearly two centuries: students at women’s colleges are more engaged and empowered for academic excellence than their peers at coeducational institutions.”
Most of our generation has grown up under the premise that women and men can compete on a level playing field; academically, or otherwise. Despite what some administrators and scientists may tell you, this is most certainly true. However, women and men are very different animals and the fact is that women often excel in environments that are not male-dominated. And while we would all like to think differently, society is still quite substantially male dominated, especially when it comes to business, the sciences and engineering.
Woman’s-only colleges are not simply following such practices to uphold tradition; they uphold such practices based out of a very real need and these institutions serve a purpose for which they receive far too little credit. They receive too little credit because acknowledging that environments where one sex may thrive by virtue of self-containment (absent of the pressures of the opposite sex) is most always viewed as a weakness rather than as a strength. The acceptance of men at Randolph-Macon may ultimately be the best move financially for the school but it comes at a steep cost.