Wellesley has long been a home to female educational institutions. Witness Wellesley College and Dana Hall School. Once upon a time, Pine Manor had its roots here and Elizabeth Seton provided women with a stellar education at the site now occupied by Massachusetts Bay Community College.
While the benefits of same sex education have been debated throughout the decades, it is apparent that these institutions have an illlustrious track record. And the alumnae and students are consistently forthright about the educational environment enabling them to succeed and not be held back by gender.
Sexism however is still apparent in society and we're getting front row seats to the sexist critiquing of Sarah Palin's clothes, choice of being a career executive as well as a mother of 5, ability to perform in her job when she has a disabled child at home; the list goes on and on.
Hillary was mocked for her pearls and pant suits, and many believe she lost the nomination because of her gender, not her policies.
We are not witnessing elaborate descriptions of McCain's and Obama's grooming habits. No one asks Obama if his children are suffering because he's campaigning. Do we even know how many kids Joe Biden has? McCain hasn't been told that he can't be sarcastic, and no one cares if they knit or sew in their spare time whereas Palin's moose hunting has been bandied about incessantly. And absolutely no one is fantasizing about McCain or Obama or Biden with a different hairstyle!
Let's face it. The four candidates are being judged differently based on their sex. So even with all the strides women have made, our society (and I'm including women in their judgement of other women) perpetuates different standards for men and women.
After graduating from a single sex educational institution, many women get a brutal reality check when they enter the business world. Coming from an atmosphere of "you can do anything you want," they often find that a large part of the population isn't operating on the same wavelength.
I thinks it's very important to advise and encourage our daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives exactly the same way we would any other individual. Their sex should not matter. Our schools should do the same. Male students shouldn't be called upon more than females. It shouldn't be assumed that girls don't do as well as the men in certain subjects. Educators try to offer a level playing field but sometimes the men are just more persistent in getting the attention. Hence single sex education has many proponents. And just as obviously, it has many detractors.
Eliza Borne is a young woman from Arkansas, a senior at Wellesley College, and features editor of the school's "Wellesley News." Her recent blog in the Globe Sunday Magazine gives us a window into single sex education, the Wellesley College experience, and the hopes and dreams of young women everywhere.
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