Women’s colleges have decreased in number by 80% since the 1960’s, despite recent studies demonstrating their superiority over coed schools in training women for leadership roles, they are paradoxically faced with diminishing enrollments. This study examines how ambivalent sexism affects college students’ perception of women’s colleges and how it diminishes female student interest in them. To clarify sexism’s role in the decline in female interest in attending women’s colleges, 10 coed college students were interviewed (6 female and 4 male) and their answers were collected and analyzed. The quantitative analysis demonstrated that all students perceived that same sex colleges were viewed negatively by society compared to coed colleges. Moreover, 8 of 10 students viewed men’s colleges more favorably than women’s colleges and 7 of 10 students were surprised to learn that colleges were successful in preparing their students for leadership roles. Additionally, female interviewees described feeling pressure to dress and act appropriately in coed classes i.e. “not too sexy” and “not too smart”—while male interviewees felt no such pressure. The qualitative analysis revealed directly or indirectly that women had negative feelings about women’s colleges though admitted that timid women may benefit from a same-sex environment. Finally, while women “self-silenced” and reported “lack of confidence” in coed classroom discussions, men displayed signs of entitlement and dominance. This study challenges anti-feminism assertions that equality with men has been achieved and that women only have themselves to blame for their lack of success. It as well shows how benevolent sexism depletes women’s confidence, their self-worth and their desire to make non-traditional choices—like attend a women’s college.
Keywords: women’s colleges, feminism, self-silencing, benevolent sexism, female negativity
|Commitee:||Spalding, Steven D.|
|School:||The American University of Paris (France)|
|Source:||MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational sociology, Womens studies, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Benevolent sexism, Female negativity, Feminism, Self-silencing, Women's colleges|
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