Coeducation: New Growth

May 7, 1969

Report Outline
Trend Toward Universal Coeducation
Evolution of Coeducation in America
Factors at Work in Current Trend

Trend Toward Universal Coeducation

One of the last bastions of male exclusiveness—the private men's college of liberal arts—is succumbing to an influx of female students. Women's colleges also are moving toward coeducation, but the trend there is less significant than the collapse of the one-sex ideal in the male enclave. The women's colleges came into existence in the first place largely because girls were either refused admission or given only limited and grudging access to male-dominated facilities of higher education. In time, the women's colleges acquired a great tradition of their own to which they clung, just as a few hundred men's colleges clung to theirs during the years that coeducation was becoming the norm in state universities and other institutions of higher education.

By and large, however, the women's colleges have not stood so firmly as the men's against coexistence of the sexes on a single campus. Their hospitality to male faculty, for example, has been in sharp contrast to the miniscule showing of female scholars on the faculties of men's colleges. A male president of a woman's college is by no means unusual; a woman president of a men's college is as unthinkable today as it was a century ago. Similar sex differentials favor male leadership on boards of trustees and in administrative staff positions: the male position is strong in women's colleges and is almost totally controlling in men's colleges.

Difficulties of Changeover in Private Colleges

A changeover to coeducation appears to present more problems of adjustment at men's than at women's colleges. “The whole Yale experience is geared toward men,” said Henry Chauncey Jr., special assistant to President Kingman Brewster Jr., after the decision to admit women was made known on Nov. 14, 1968. Apart from weightier considerations, Chauncey was concerned about an assumed demand by women students for bathtubs in place of the shower facility that is standard at Yale. When Princeton on Jan. 12, 1969, announced its intention to introduce coeducation, the special trustees' committee which made the recommendation said it involved “the largest single decision that has faced Princeton in this century.” The committee warned that “There are obviously risks in a new undertaking of this magnitude.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education and Gender
May 20, 2005  Gender and Learning
Jul. 12, 2002  Single-Sex Education
Jun. 03, 1994  Education and Gender
May 07, 1969  Coeducation: New Growth
Civil Rights: Women
Diversity Issues
Undergraduate and Graduate Education