Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Feminists Address Feminists on the Other Side of the Single-Sex Education Debate

Rebecca Bigler and Lise Eliot are right when they point out that "feminists tend to be of two minds about single-sex schooling." In my experience, such discussions between these groups of feminists -- whether personal or playing out in the New York Times -- reflect an uneasy awareness of this divide, with both sides often choosing to address the common "enemy" in programs that take single-sex education too far, rather than address the conflicting positions between them. Of all the discourse over single-sex education that has spewed forth these last few months, Bigler and Eliot's piece in Slate notable for actually taking issue with the feminist variety of single-sex education -- the pro-woman Smith and Wellesley type. This respectful, measured, and evidence-based column makes the case that sex-segregated classrooms promote sex stereotypes that are the basis for bias and privilege. It delivers a persuasive argument that feminists would do more to promote gender equality by working together to end sex-segregated schools and enhancing co-education. It's worth a read.