The Myths and Realities of Women’s Colleges

by Lanie Hymowitz ’22

Source: Time

Published Oct. 16th, 2021

At the start of my college search, I was a misogynist.

Or a very ill-informed feminist, to be more generous.

Despite having no clue as to what I wanted in higher education, I seemed to know one thing for sure: absolutely no women’s colleges. It just seemed to be the unquestionable criterion I’d abide by in my filtering. It was only once I asked myself “why not?” that I learned the unfortunate truth about myself.

I blamed my internal pressures on other people (the young women I surrounded myself with) and indulged in the nonsensical belief that girls were more inclined to cattily compete or betray each other. Even then, I knew this wasn’t the truth, but I was so deeply convinced that this unpoppable competitive bubble would follow me around for the rest of my life if I went to a women’s college.

The lingering determination to firmly change my mind on this led me to explore some of the institutions I once deliberately ignored. There were many benefits that I had not even given a second thought to: an abundance of female professors who have achieved great success in their fields, classrooms ripe for engaging in diverse discussions, programs dedicated to shaping female leaders, and (perhaps most ironically) lasting community. In Princeton Review’s list of private schools with the Best Alumni Networks, 4 women’s colleges (Agnes Scott, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, and Bryn Mawr) appeared. Funnily enough, the aforementioned list was topped by two men’s colleges, Wabash at #1 and Hampden-Sydney at #2, so the argument for single-sex colleges is a double-sided coin. 

Since I can truly only speak on the prospects of women’s colleges, I find it crucial to lessen the stereotype that these institutions are populated by bitter young women looking only to tear each other down. While I do recognize that a women’s college may not be the right fit for all females, I sense that the aforementioned stigmas are still floating around out there in the whispers of college application talks. Whether learning more about women’s colleges makes someone want to attend, or merely lessens their bias against them, the unique place they hold in society cannot be disregarded in the lazy fashion that I once practiced. The conversation surrounding their importance must continue lest their appeal, and therefore the institutions themselves, go the way of the dodo. 

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