On the morning of December 11, 2012, the Huffington Post published a guest editorial by Elisabeth Pfeiffer, SC ’15. The title read, “Don’t Like the Gender Gap? Women’s Colleges Might Just Be the Answer.”

Pfeiffer’s piece praises Scripps for developing her leadership skills and broadening her understanding of women’s issues, while alluding to sexism and patronizing behavior at the rest of the consortium. But despite her impassioned support of the all-girls model, Pfeiffer overlooks some basic ideas that suggest that women’s colleges are not, in fact, superior in countering gender inequality.

So, I have to ask: What makes Scripps—or any other women’s college—any better than CMC, based solely on the gender composition?

Consider the hundreds of women, including myself, who attend an institution formerly known as Claremont Men’s College.  My roommate’s mother, a CMC alumna, holds a diploma carrying that name. She graduated in one of the first co-educational classes at CMC during the interim period before “Men’s” was replaced with the gender-neutral “McKenna.” According to recent data, CMC’s student body is 55% male and 44% female, still reflecting the ever-present roots of our all-male beginning.

Despite CMC’s lingering emphasis on men, and in stark contrast to the all-female college next door, I feel that I have also received the empowering benefits that Pfeiffer attributes solely to women’s colleges. In fact, I argue that CMC has better equipped me and other female students to tackle the gender gap than most women’s colleges would have, particularly because of the co-ed environment.

CMC teaches leadership by emphasizing pragmatism, a focus that makes our school unique among liberal arts colleges. Our education gives us breadth and depth but never delves so deeply as to neglect practical applications. Our school’s gender balance acts in the same way: It reflects the practical challenges that women face (culturally embedded gender roles, male dominance, etc.) and challenges those notions by giving women the opportunity to work directly alongside men in prototypical boys’ clubs—something uniquely unavailable at a women’s college.

Pfeiffer wrote of her school, “I will never again be surrounded by such a large community of independent and intelligent women who are so motivated to make a difference.” Well, I don’t need to venture across Ninth Street to find independent, intelligent, and motivated women; CMC is full of them. And the women at CMC learn, grow, and succeed in a realistic environment where we compete with talented men for elite positions. We don’t become leaders by thriving in an atmosphere that artificially eradicates sexism but by fighting to earn our success under the same conditions we’ll face once we graduate.

I am by no means suggesting that gender barriers of this sort should be imposed intentionally, nor do I think that the male-dominated environment at CMC is engineered to be exclusive to women. The situations in which we train at CMC simply mirror the real professional barriers that women face, and they likely arise for similar reasons.

During my college search, I chose not to apply to women’s colleges. This was not because I would have felt uncomfortable at a “lesbian college” or sexually stifled by an absence of men—taunts that Pfeiffer faced when choosing Scripps—but because what I looked for in my college experience was a challenge. I wanted to enter a school that would push me to be stronger and bolder, not indulge my weaknesses by protecting me from “injustice” in an inaccurately idyllic setting.

In her editorial, Pfeiffer discusses November’s congressional elections, the results of which brought the number of female senators to an all-time high of twenty in the 113th Congress. But Pfeiffer asks the reader to “forgive” her for “not celebrating,” arguing that one out of five of our senators being a woman is not enough. And she’s right. Women should comprise more than 20% of the Senate. But we’re not going to develop a fair gender balance in Congress by scoffing at small progress, claiming the answer can come only from a room full of women; such a forum is not a microcosm of the real world.

Female CMC students are in a 44% gender minority. The five women in CMC’s Student Investment Fund last spring were in an 8% minority; the twenty female Fortune 500 CEOs are in a 4% minority; and the women in the U.S. Senate have just entered a 20% minority. Those women are leaders. Meanwhile, at Scripps—what minority?

On a fundamental level, you don’t familiarize yourself with a problem by ignoring it. You learn it by living it. We can educate ourselves about gender inequality by taking women’s studies classes, watching Hillary Clinton’s “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” speech, and talking to other women about gender issues. But, as much as those secondary sources can teach you, there is no substitute for actually battling and overcoming gender-based obstacles. And those obstacles simply don’t exist within a women’s college.

I don’t believe that the way to close the gender gap is to hide out in a college full of other women, collectively agonizing over society’s sexist underpinnings and rallying around the energizing but vague bastion of the feminist cause, as Pfeiffer seems to suggest in her praise of Scripps. The structure of a women’s college is inherently designed not to mimic the structure of society but to create one that feels more comfortable. This is a problem, not a solution.

Women cannot learn about the “female struggle” by rejecting the environment from which these struggles are born. Doing so breeds ignorance and naivety. If we endorse gender separatism by encouraging female students to attend women’s colleges, we are not challenging society’s gender gap. We’re perpetuating it.

Thus, I welcome the CMC community—even its boys’ club elements—because this won’t be the last time I’ll have to work within this system. The real world is nothing like the shelter of a women’s college, and I don’t care to indulge the fantasy that it is. Come at me, inequality. I can take it.


    • You’re ‘Dating a Scrippsie” and yet you agree with this article?
      I doubt she’ll be happy to know that you think her education is weak and cowardly.

      • Nope but she respects that a system can have both strengths and weaknesses. She also does not twist peoples words into “weak and cowardly” and so we can have mature conversations about things like this.

        • Nobody said that Scripps doesn’t have weaknesses too, but this article is uncalled for and does not represent Scripps accurately. She also did imply that Scrippsies are cowardly by saying that we “hide out in a college full of other women” and that we are weak- “I wanted to enter a school that would push me to be stronger and bolder, not indulge my weaknesses by protecting me from “injustice” in an inaccurately idyllic setting”. It appears that you did not read the article very well.

  1. a lot of female leaders have come from women’s colleges. just saying. obviously it doesn’t make it hard for women to overcome challenges.

    • That seems like a gross overgeneralization…. Just like many leaders have come from community colleges or have have been dropouts, does not mean that a community college is better than CMC. Certain students will rise up irregardless or circumstance, but I think the point of the article is that the idea of a women’s college seems to make this more difficult for the students enrolled.

      I think it makes sense. It is hard to bring equality and fight for equality when you self segregate.

      Reminds me of their gym policies. How is not allowing men access to machines and equipment at certain times helping to bridge the gender gap? Turn it the other way and imagine if CMC had male only hours at Ducey. We would be kicked out of the consortium. While I see certain benefits, it is still perplexing.

      Many Scripp’s girls I have met will be incredible leaders and citizens. However, I have also met many who have EXTREME amounts of difficulty interacting with guys, and constantly hide behind outdated 5 C stereotypes to avoid facing this fact. Some were at all girls high schools before this and trust me, they are a nightmare on a Saturday night.

      The Consortium helps to off balance these effects for many, but not all. Still, how can one prepare for the real world in such an obvious mirage?

      • Most of us didn’t choose to go to Scripps to segregate ourselves from men. And I believe your point about many Scripps women having difficulty interacting with men happens with students at all the colleges. Would you presume that men
        at CMC when it was a men’s college were somehow less equipped to talk to women simply because they chose to attend a college with core classes and dorms that were all men? As for our gym, it does not have women’s only hours to keep men away, but to accommodate students who may be uncomfortable working out with men present for religious or other personal reasons, none of which require justifying to others.

        • I think you are saying, ” Would you presume that men at CMC when it was a men’s college were
          somehow less equipped to talk to women simply because they chose to
          attend a college with core classes and dorms that were all men?” in order to establish that no one would say such a thing. But it is not like this article is promoting men’s colleges. Yes, I do think men at CMC with it was a single-sex school were less quipped to interact with women. I believe they would have been less likely to view women as intellectual equals and partake in discussions and problem-solving scenarios that involved both genders coming together.

          I have many Scripps women as friends who are social and successful and get along with men very well on an individual basis, yet in discussions, they still approach men as a collective with much anger. I do not see how this is the solution to bridging the gap.

        • I think the large issue here is the presumption that by attending a women’s college we do not have interaction with any men at all and therefore are less prepared to fave this world. Rather than blaming the institution as a women’s college for your friends approaching men as a collective with supposed anger, maybe you should be asking yourself why? We have all had in visual and unique experiences that have shaped the way we view the world around us. Your friend’s collegiate education may be similar to that of other Scripps students, but to presume their frustration with men is the product of the institution which they attend disregards the automomy we all have to choose how feel and think. If that were the case I would likely be a democrat and would also hate men. However, I am a feminist republican Scripps students who believes that the way out society has been gendered is a product of both sexes, not simply men, and THAT is the product of my school challenging me to think in ways I hadn’t been challenged to otherwise. We are not taught to hate men or blame men for inequality, we are challenged to ask why and how it has happened and given the critical skills to instigate change.

      • About the gym thing… a lot of girls feel uncomfortable working out in an environment with males. They do it to make it more of a safe space.

      • This comment is riddled with inaccuracies. “Many leaders” do NOT come from community colleges or are dropouts–Google “US congress alma mater” for proof. The fact that a large number of women leaders DO come from women’s colleges must say something.

        Also, this whole notion of Scripps as a “self-segregating” body is ridiculous. I’ve taken classes at all the 5Cs, and I’ve had guys in Scripps classes. I see guys every day. I’m talking to you right now. There are women’s only hours at the gym because, like others have said, for religious or personal reasons some women don’t want to be working out when there are guys around. It’s not perplexing. And if you don’t like that, go to Ducey.

        Your whole comment smacks of the idea that women need to conform to certain norms already in place in order to have equality. The thing about that is that those norms have been put in place by GUYS. Where has that gotten us so far? Unequal pay, an achievement gap, and a dialogue around our Secretary of State that’s more about her hair than her policy. This is a problem. A women’s college offers women a respite from that kind of system, one where they are free to critique both their immediate surroundings and the larger world with a level of freedom that’s hard to find otherwise. This sort of freedom offers the opportunity to go into the world a stronger, more resilient, more informed leader. I took advantage of it–I’ll tell you, when I was applying to colleges my top two choices were Scripps and CMC. I chose Scripps, and I feel like it was the right choice for me because of the reasons I’ve listed (not that it’s perfect for everyone, mind you).

        To end this on a petty note, “irregardless”…?

        • I’m his girlfriend and, though I’m glad that I’m not a nightmare on Saturday nights, we’re going to have a serious talk about this at the Scripp’s dining hall later.

      • “but because what I looked for in my college experience was a challenge”

        i have been more challenged by my all-female classes at scripps than at any other classes i’ve taken at the 5c’s, an di don’t believe this to be a coincidence

        “Reminds me of their gym policies. How is not allowing men access to machines and equipment at certain times helping to bridge the gender gap?”

        most gyms around the country (actually, much of the world) have women only hours. some women do not feel exercising in front of men, because they have either been sexually harassed, minimized, or otherwise objectified by men in relation to their own or other women’s bodies. while a man may feel insecure about his body in front of women or had similarly traumatizing experiences, there is a dissimilarity between the two’s experiences in that women face these problems systemically, making them harder to overcome, more frequent, more wide-spread, and more culturally-ingrained. women are also often not supported in, or even dissuaded from, exercise and sports. physical fitness is, for many women, INCREDIBLY GENDERED EVEN IF NO SUCH “SELF-SEGREGATION” EXISTS.

        and in all other aspects, i think most scripps women, and i’m sure to a large variety of extents, many of the women across the campuses, understand that– there is no self-segregation. even in mixed-gender environment, women are segregated, and in an hierarchical pattern. read up on the term “double consciousness,” if you get the chance– which you may not, since women’s colleges tend to focus more on such “radical” subjects as modern ethnic-studies and feminist theories

        • besides, the added stigma against women of color is GREATLY minimized at women’s colleges, even if it is still unacceptably pervasive

      • OMG!!! YOU’RE DATING A SCRIPPSIE? YOU MUST TOTALLY UNDERSTAND ALL TH ENUANCES OF ITS EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM THEN! seriously, though, why do you think so many strong, powerful women’s leaders support women’s colleges?!

      • I’d like to point out that the “gender gap” is not a physical space between people of different genders. It refers to the lower salaries that women typically enjoy (women earn about 77 cents for every dollar that men make) in their careers. Therefore the PHYSICAL SPACE that the Tiernan Field House “imposes on men?” with women’s only hours, is not a “gender gap.” Sometimes its just more convenient to have these hours so that there is a smaller volume of people using machines, and allowing only Scripps students/female students at some times of the day assures that fewer people will be fighting over machines.

        Also, I think find your comment about how some of these women are “a nightmare on a Saturday night” is ridiculous. Correlation does not equal causation, just because some women go to a women’s college, doesn’t mean they have no social skills with guys and I seriously doubt that going to a women’s college would make their social skills worse. Maybe these people have no social skills with anyone! I’ve met PLENTY of people at CMC, other Claremont colleges and other colleges all around the country who have uh….no social skills when it comes to interacting with people of the opposite sex and these experiences really have nothing to do with the gender composition of the school.

        • I feel you. I just had to explain to my girlfriend that the gender gap is not a house, or a street, or a small dog running at high speed across a highway, but rather an unbelievably complex theory that most of us wouldn’t understand. By clarifying that the gender gap is not physical, you’ve really helped us all out. Thanks, now we can have a real discussion.

        • It sounds as if your girlfriend was educated at a women’s institution. Mine too. Let me know if you’d like to join a support group sometime. Just to clarify, we meet in a physical space.

      • I’m sorry that women that refuse to hook up with you are labeled as having “EXTREME amounts of difficulty interacting with guys” on Saturday nights.

        I’m also sorry you make me so angry that I became petty. Oh wait.

    • I don’t think that’s what Shannon is saying. Women are obviously very capable of accomplishing a lot no matter where they come from. The article is about an all-girls school calling itself better for women than a school like CMC.

      • We don’t claim to better for women. We claim to have an environment that some women may truly thrive in, just as CMC does for it’s students.

        • no one’s saying it’s a cure-all. and that’s why people can choose their colleges! yay!! clearly, shannon made a great choice for herself by not going to a women’s college if she feels this way! at the same time, she might have started to feel differently if she gave it a shot. I know plenty of girls who had that exact change of heart.

        • I do think that is true for the case of Scripps, as it is part of a consortium. However, many of my Scripps friends say that they would have not gone to a purely all-women’s college, and therefore they would have to disagree with some points Pfieffer makes.


        • The title suggests that going to an all-girls school is a solution for closing the gender gap, which is the sole point that Shannon’s article argues.

  2. “It would be a thousand pitied if women wrote like men, or lived like men, or looked like men, for if two sexes are quite inadequate, considering the vastness and variety of the world, how should we manage with one only? Ought not education to bring out and fortify differences rather than the similarities? For we have too much likeness as it is, and if an explorer should come back and bring word of other sexes looking through the branches of other trees and at other skies, nothing would be of greater service to humanity.”-Virginia Woolf

    • Whoaaa I never knew that Virginia Woolf would speak to me. Keep the sexes separate! Men do men things, women do women things! Excellent point

  3. I’m really impressed by this article. Whether or not you agree, it’s a pretty good articulation of tackling the problem of the ‘gender gap.’

  4. You don’t have to surround yourself with imposed adversity to thrive. The basis of an education through a women’s college promotes the ability to think and lead in a way that matches the demands of the outside world. Congratulations being part of a minority at your institution, but by playing into this position you are creating a gap and an us-against-them separation that women’s colleges are not trying to ignore but rather use a greater community to remedy

    • An “us-against-them” separation is far more present at a college where women are on the inside and men on the outside, as opposed to at a college where men and women work alongside each other.

      • As another women’s college attendee, I really don’t find that to be the case. There will always be people who turn it into that, but most people really try to avoid it.

  5. While I think you have some great points, I do think it is far from accurate to paint Scripps as an institution hiding from the inequalities of the ‘real world’. I promise you that’s not why I or many of my peers chose the school. Scripps is unique in that it provides many of the benefits of an all women’s college while exposing its students to the coeducational opportunities of the other Claremont Colleges. I don’t believe Pfeiffer was trying to label Scripps as somehow better than a coeducational school, or even the other Claremont colleges, instead I think it was much more about the uniqueness of her experience and her reasoning for choosing to attend a women’s college. Her reasoning is just as valid as yours for choosing to attend CMC.

  6. While this article presents a very interesting argument, do you not think that there are elements within CMC that are “designed not to mimic the structure of society but to create one that feels more comfortable?” Dining halls, biweekly room cleanings, Sunday cleanup crews, camp sec and not the cops as first responders?

    Your argument effectively ignores the role college plays as an intermediate space between home and the real world. It also unfairly assumes that the only way to deal with something is to learn about it first hand. My point is every college in the consortium is a bubble and argument lacks the nuance to effectively propose a solution, it just highlights what you think is one aspect of the problem while ignoring all other facets of the bubble.

    All of that being said, its a well written, thought provoking piece especially for those willing to explain why they disagree…

    • Different, CMC students are spoiled because the college (and the statistics) think they will end up in positions of serious wealth and power and want them to be in the best position to do so. Neglecting half of the world from life is very different. Even if cross enrollment is an option.

      • “CMC spoils us because it is good preparation for being spoiled brats in the future.” GREAT POINT.

    • “Your argument effectively ignores the role college plays as an intermediate space between home and the real world.” Well said… College is a four year transition from the family unit into the professional world. To base one’s arguments on the claim that any of the five colleges is not a bubble is laughable and sorely lacking in perspective, introspection or experience in the alleged “real world”.

  7. I would love to see a current Scripps student respond to this. Honestly, I would like a female perspective of CMC’s (or other institution’s) ‘male domination.’ More females are going to college than males now days, and most liberal arts colleges are majority female. Maybe I’m just dense, but I don’t see much difference in the way males and females are treated at CMC (or other co-ed colleges).

  8. In terms of preparing oneself for the “outside world,” one statistic that should be relevant to CMC-ers: 15% of congresswomen attended women’s colleges, as opposed to about 1% of the general college-attending population. There are plenty of other statistics that show that the selective isolation and brief respite from adversity we can experience at a women’s college makes real steps toward shrinking the gender gap, in ways that other institutions cannot manage.

    • Pretty deceptive stat. most women’s colleges tend to be elite private institutions. So ya you are going to get a lot of high powered people no matter what. Obviously ASU and the majority of US schools are not putting people in congress.

      I think that the author is not saying to get rid of Scripps. She is saying, and I happen to agree, that for some girls attending an all girls institution is sheltering themselves from the world they are supposedly preparing to enter.

      Some people do great at women’s colleges, but there are girls at Scripps who have serious social handicaps because they simply have never dealt with men. This is not all, or even half, but a sizable population.

      Trying to be reasonable here but please hate away…

      • “there are girls at Scripps who have serious social handicaps because they simply have never dealt with men. This is not all, or even half, but a sizable population.”

        Surrounded by coed colleges, attending classes with men, and presumably having at least a few male professors, I find it hard to imagine that any Scripps student has “never dealt with men.” A “sizable population?” Where are you getting that from?

        More importantly, there’s no reason why four years of interaction with a mostly female peer group would cause a “serious social handicap.” As others have said, the women’s college environment gives women leadership opportunities they might not otherwise have access to; if anything that experience should strengthen, not handicap, one’s social skills.

      • There are no girls at Scripps, only women. Scripps is a women’s college, women attend Scripps. I seriously hope you’re a guy.

        Shiyuan (SC ’08)

        • Men, there are only men at the Claremont Colleges.

          I seriously hope that you are a woman, because if you were a man and called individuals at the Claremont Colleges “guys,” you would somehow be less intelligent, independent, and “masculine,” than the rest of us men.
          Interesting how that works huh?

        • Yes. Girl implies youth and its associated character. Guy does not. Guy in common vernacular almost implies a gender-neutral (not completely, but it is often used in that context) as well as character-neutral sentiment. Girl is not to woman as guy is to man. Sorry.

  9. This is a really well written and well articulated article with a clear point and objective. However, I disagree. Although I did not read Pfieffer’s article, I can say from my own experience, that going to a women’s college does not result in an environment that regects the “female struggle” environment. If anything, it embraces the struggles of women and allows for a safe place to discuss and overcome these battles together, as women. I cannot say what the experience is in a co-ed environment, because I do not belong to one, but what I can say is that Scripps has allowed me to become a CONFIDENT, self-sufficient woman, who can go out into the world unaffraid of the challenges that I may face. I do understand Miller’s point of “if we don’t experience the challenges amongst men during our college years, how do we expect to later in life?”, but I think that that is selling women short and not giving them the credit of learning through discussions and experiences outside of college. I commend this article for such a strong opinion, but I want to make the point that speculations and assumptions are not facts.

      • Is it really necessary for you to focus on the original poster’s spelling mistakes rather than her argument while displaying your pride in your institution as a provocative insult?

  10. Thank you, Missing the point, for adding your perspective to this article. As a current Scripps student I was actually very hurt by reading this article. It makes me sad that a CMC student feels this type of disconnect from Scripps students right across the street, probably in her classes as well. I’ve had many conversations with male and female friends from other 5c colleges who feel unwelcome or pushed away by Scripps and I wish there was something I could do or say to make that discomfort go away. I think Scripps celebrates women but I never want that to be at the expense or discomfort of other male and female students. The reason I was so saddened by this article is because I feel very confident, powerful, and competent as a Scripps student, while the author posits that Scripps reinforces some weakness or fear I have of a male-dominated world. This is both upsetting and infuriating.

    • As a CMC student, many of my male classmates have expressed discomfort about being at Scripps. I had to drag a male friend to the Motley for a smoothie! Of course Scripps should be a place where women are empowered and gender equality is developed, but alienating men works against this goal. Who knows, maybe they are just pansies.

      • men wouldn’t have to feel alienated by scripps if feminism and feminists didn’t have such bad stereotypes. I’m an ardent feminist and I’m dating a CMC guy who is (gasp) more conservative than me and also kind of a bro. He makes fun of me sometimes. I laugh it off because I know he doesn’t mean it. And yet… we coexist. Weird how that works.

        • So what you’re saying is that you laugh off what your boyfriend says because you know he doesn’t mean it, but ALL the other men who say it must be misogynistic assholes?

          Doesn’t feminism not only stand against the intention, but also the action? I would revisit your “ardent” beliefs and your biases.

        • I get mad at him when he actually says something offensive. Usually they’re just stupid jokes. And I didn’t say that everyone else is a misogynistic asshole. And guys can make occasional misogynistic comments that I can call them out on without hating them as a person forever and ever (or even at all)! Being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to be angry all the time. It just means you believe in equal rights for men and women. That’s it.

        • I agree with you. I believe true feminism is a powerful supportive thing. Yet I think that due to some of the people who preach ‘feminism,’ it has received a bad rep. Rather than being positive, some people have made it seem divisive and make other women feel judged for more conservative values. I think everyone should be allowed to feel how they want, whether their beliefs are conservative or liberal. That is real equality.

        • The myth of feminism as an angry, divisive, anti-male ideology was created and is perpetuated by the capitalist patriarchy (for instance, when third-wave feminism rose in the 60s, cosmetics companies were worried women would stop wearing makeup and put them out of business, so they disseminated advertisements that depicted feminists as ugly beast ladies). Sexists, not feminists, give feminism a bad rap.

        • Thank you so much for articulating just what I was thinking! It wounds me a little when self-professed feminists feel the need to apologize for other feminists.

        • Um, that’s certainly not true. Blaming males yet again I see? Case in point. Go to Jezebel if you want to see the angry, anti male comments. They exist in spades.

      • Is that our problem or theirs? :/ I have often been the only female in various professional and academic situations, but nobody expected them to try not to alienate me…

        • I think there’s something to be said for comfort zones. Scripps is a place that is so clearly a female comfort zone. Most of the time walking on the street (especially as I study abroad) I am very clearly not in a female comfort zone. To keep this to a campus issue, in all of the 5cs I feel comfortable, but Scripps is very special and I really value that space. Scripps is a female space and I don’t think we need to apologize for it. I hope that my male friends can enjoy Scripps campus even if it doesn’t cater to their comforts.

      • AWW poor guy! he felt uncomfortable around women? must be how many subjugated groups in classrooms and businesses tend to feel :[[[ if only there was a way to build their confidence around like-minded individuals rather than push them into conditions in which numerous studies show they are less likely to lead and speak up, even if they are well in the majority

  11. You’re right, I totally wasn’t looking for a challenge in my college experience, which is why I chose Scripps. Thanks for making that clear!

    Sarcasm aside, I would never be as vocally feminist (or maybe even consider myself a feminist at all because of the stereotypes) if I hadn’t gone to Scripps. You can learn to exist in a male-dominated world any day of the week, and most of us in fact do. You can only exist in an environment that focuses purely on women during school. I’m not saying that Scripps or any women’s colleges is better than CMC, but I’d be careful when turning this into a pissing match over whether co-ed or not is better. Especially when you make it sound like a women’s college is the easy way out.

  12. I like this article. I can’t find it on Google, but I remember Lena Dunham saying something to the effect of that as women, we need to keep showing up until they notice us. For my part, I have really enjoyed spending more time around men (no, not like that). Living on a coed floor is fun, and it is important to show men that women aren’t always put together. We are gross and unshowered and messy too.

    If a women’s college is right for you, more power to ya. But how are men supposed to learn that women are valuable unless they are constantly exposed to valuable women who demand to be treated as such?

      • Of course that’d be great! But it’s not realistic. Gender discrimination and sexism are learned, and they won’t just go away. They have to be unlearned.

        • Did you seriously just say it’s unrealistic to not treat women poorly? That just may be the best argument for women’s colleges yet.

        • I think they did. I wouldn’t worry about it though, they also probably victim blame like it’s their job because it’s not realistic to expect people to stop sexually assaulting other people.

        • And.. Here it goes. The classic feminist dirt smear of people must be victim blamers if they are male. Good god.

        • The OP’s gender is irrelevant (I actually think Carlz is a female), my opinion is based on their posts so far.

  13. Can I ask why an article praising Scripps is immediately taken as an insult by CMC? I’m confused as to how a Scripps student celebrating her experience at a college she loves in any way endangers or detracts from the value of a CMC education. The author made her choice in college for her reasons, Scripps students made their choice for their reasons. I don’t believe an attack of this nature is warranted.

    • I don’t think it is viewed as an insult, but just an opposing view point. This is not an attack – this is a discussion.

      • I understand that, and I think the author makes some valid points, but I think it’s a little much considering that the original article that this post responds to does not focus on denigrating a CMC education the way this one does a Scripps one. The author seems to believe that one cannot praise either a single-sex or a co-ed experience without either implicitly or explicitly tearing down the other.

      • “…what I looked for in my college experience was a challenge. I wanted to enter a school that would push me to be stronger and bolder, not indulge my weaknesses by protecting me from “injustice” in an inaccurately idyllic setting.”

        “On a fundamental level, you don’t familiarize yourself with a problem by ignoring it. You learn it by living it. ”

        “Women cannot learn about the “female struggle” by rejecting the environment from which these struggles are born. Doing so breeds ignorance and naivety.”

        So according to Shannon, Scripps women are indulging their weaknesses and avoiding challenges by completely and idyllicly isolating themselves from men and ignoring the problem of gender inequality. Their rejection of “the real world” breeds within them ignorance and naïvté. Whether or not you consider that an attack, it is most certainly an insult.

    • Pfeiffer’s article was not simply an article praising Scripps, or else there would be no controversial topic under debate. Pfeiffer’s piece was an opinion on the effectiveness of her school in closing the gender gap, and so this piece is an opinion on the same thing.

  14. I think it’s really ironic that you can “find her…at the Motley”. I would have thought such a lesbian, feminist, idealistic place would be too much of a shelter from the real world for this member of the “boys club”. Are you sure you really want to hang out there anymore Shannon Miller? After all, there aren’t really any other all women, student -run coffee shops in the country, and according to this article, we don’t want to keep encouraging false realites.

    • this is a silly comment. Shannon was just responding to an article that clearly spoke negatively about the other Claremont Colleges while lauding Scripps. That was unfair to the other colleges, and Shannon had every right to respond. Her critique of the article does not by any means mean she does not appreciate Scripps, or that she hates women in power. Her point – which is pretty valid – is that co-ed competition is a more realistic representation of the world, and that as women, we have to get used to it. That does not mean that the gender gap is ok, or that we should not try to change it – just that in today’s world, it exists, so we have to recognize it, fight it, but also deal with it, because it won’t change overnight. Attacking her for liking the Motley is an immature way of responding to a serious attempt at debate.

      • I disagree with you. Yes the previous comment is somewhat silly, but I do not think the original article was intending to diss the other Claremont Colleges. Pfeiffer did not speak negatively about the other 5C’s, but instead remarked that an all-women’s college is a potential answer to those looking for more women in leadership positions (i.e. ‘closing the gender gap’). Make sure to clearly read and understand the source article before you make generalizing comments that Pfeiffer spoke negatively about the other colleges.

      • While I don’t think “really freshman?” needed to be snarky about her comment, Elisabeth’s article did not in any way attack or speak negatively about the other Claremont Colleges. The closest she ever got to “speaking negatively” about any of the other colleges was to say “I don’t like the stereotypes cultivated at the other Claremont Colleges with one being that Scripps students need to have boys around them.’ This doesn’t attack the culture, environment, or community of any of the other colleges in the way that Shannon is.

      • The original article did not speak negatively about any of the other colleges, it was just an article written by a Scripps student about her love for the experience she’s had at Scripps. It was not the attack this author would have you believe it was.

    • It strikes me as immature, childish, and unnecessary to suggest someone is unwelcome in a college coffeeshop because they wrote an article you dislike (no matter how vehemently). We should all do our part to make sure that the Claremont community is a thoughtful but kind community that welcomes free speech and diverse opinions rather than shunning it.

    • Shannon specifically says in her article that she is not afraid lesbians or other accompanying stereotypes, so your ad hominem here is really demeaning to you and detrimental to your cause.

      • usually claiming you are “not afraid of lesbians” doesn’t really speak volumes to your lack of homophobic tendencies.

  15. Hi Shannon,

    While I respect and totally understand your point of view, I do have a few concerns with the intentional/unintentional implications of your article. I, in no way, believe that the only way for a woman to become a successful leader is to attend a women’s college, but I found that your article which essentially discredits the impact of women’s colleges to be ill-considerate of some of the direct benefits that are encouraged and fostered in an environment where women are the majority.

    You ask the question, “What makes Scripps—or any other women’s college—any better than CMC, based solely on the gender composition?” I want to respond with a comparison between a statistic that you have given and a statistic that I will give to you. In your article, you reference that “Female CMC students are in a 44% gender minority.” You then reference the 8%, 4%, and 20% female representation in the CMC’s Student Investment fund, Fortune 500 CEOs, and U.S. Senate respectively. At Scripps, our Student Investment fund has 100% female representation. Our Student Senate has 100% female representation. In fact, every single one of our leadership positions has 100% female
    representation. I wouldn’t say that this makes Scripps any better than CMC (my intent is not to reinforce a hierarchal comparison), but it does allow for a greater number of opportunities for Scripps women to become involved as leaders, movers, and shakers within their communities. As a result of their experiences in the so-called “shelter” of a
    women’s college, a greater number of Scripps women will be more adequately prepared with experience, confidence, and drive to then participate in environments where women are not the majority. So fact, the presumed shelter, safety, and “idyllic setting” that you believe Scripps represents actually prepares more women’s college graduates for the “real world” where the lives, experiences, and opinions of women are nationally and internationally underrepresented by governing bodies of power.

    It is for this reason that I disagree with your disagreement of Pfeiffer’s claim that women’s colleges are one possible solution of the gender gap. In fact, I very much support Pfeiffer’s cause. At Scripps and most other women’s college, we do not ignore the problems that we study, we live them. We do educate ourselves about gender inequality by taking women’s studies classes; in fact, it is a required class in our GE requirements. Last time I checked, that was not a requirement for CMC, but if you are truly passionate about it, this would be a challenge that I would advocate you to take up! We watch speeches by Hillary Rodham Clinton but do not hesitate critique some of her Western/imperial approaches to gender and international relations. And every day, we battle to overcome gender-based obstacles, by writing letters in defense of our own choices, by organizing events to raise awareness among our community, and by saying “I attend a Women’s College” with pride and
    confidence, particularly when we are surrounded by systematic institutions that
    are inherently patriarchal in a variety of ways.

    Please don’t inadvertently perpetuate this gender gap by rejecting an environment that supports the “radical” notion that women have the right to be equal in every single way. Please don’t buy into the idea that to challenge and break gender dorms, one must use the Master’s tools to dismantle the Master’s house. Please don’t buy into the idea that it is a privilege to be a part of a “Boy’s Club,” because you deserve to belong to a “Humanity Club.”

    I am continually amazed by the Scripps women that surround me on a daily basis, but I am also continually amazing by the level of depth and maturity that I see from CMC and other 5C women who are so accustomed to incorporating issues of gender inequality into daily conversations. I fully accredit this to the existence and location of Scripps within the 5C consortium, but I believe that as a part of the greater 5C community, we all have reaped the benefits.

    Shannon, thank you for expressing your opinion and encouraging such incredible and necessary dialogue!

    Roshni Kakaiya (SCR Senior)

    • Reading this could not have made me any happier, or prouder to have attended Scripps. Thank you for so eloquently responding to this article.

    • “Please don’t buy into the idea that it is a privilege to be a part of a “Boy’s Club,” because you deserve to belong to a “Humanity Club.”” Roshni thank you! Thank you! Thank you! That is so spot on! Yes we do live in a gendered society, yes it may be struggle to get into the boy’s club, but it is by no mean a privilege that we should feel honored to be a part of. The only honor we should feel is the pride of our own hard work, which is what I suppose you are trying to get at Shannon…however, you vastly fail to understand that by attending a women’s college by NO means is an attempt to thrive “in an atmosphere that artificially eradicates sexism.” I completely agree that CMC does breed strong women, I happen to know and be good friends with a number of them, however don’t make the mistake of thinking that alternative types of institutions do not provide the opportunity for women to be strong, independent thinkers with the capacity to enter, and succeed in, male dominated work places. That being said, thank you for writing this article because I think it has prompted some very important discussions within the 5C community!

    • Thank you so much for putting into words exactly what I was thinking in such an eloquent way!

    • 1,185 likes and 154 comments… damn Shannon! You’ve started a controversy for sure.

      To everyone: please see Roshni Kakaiya’s post above as an example of how to respectfully, eloquently, and meaningfully contribute to the discussion. Roshni, I especially appreciate your decision to attach your name to your opinion and not comment anonymously.

    • I’m sorry, but I have a problem with this and comments below. The main issue that I have with saying the Scripps helps prepare you for positions that you want later in life is that you might have an SIF that has 100% women, but when have you been to a fortune 500 company that is 100% women? You will always need to deal with men. The point of going to college is to prepare yourself for future life, not to stunt growth in dealing with people to then be behind the 8-ball later. The point of having an all-women’s college is to exactly eradicate sexism! It’s to empower women and to put them into a position that they perceive that they would not have in other situations BECAUSE of the fact that there are MEN.

    • Thank you for the beautiful, thoughtful and a perfect example of how to debate without insulting the original poster (something most commenters, as well as Shannon) fail to grasp. I think Scripps is a very unique school because of the exposure of the other 4 schools right on campus, which allows for interaction outside of the all girls element, but that Scripps also gives greater thought to preparing it’s students to come away from their educational experience with a strong understanding of gender inequality and the patriarchal power structure prevalent in our greater society.

      However, I disagree with the idea that ANY college is a good example of the real world. College isn’t the real world, it’s a stepping stone between childhood and adulthood. So this comments like this “The real world is nothing like the shelter of a women’s college, and I don’t care to indulge the fantasy that it is. Come at me, inequality. I can take it” are irrelevant. Remove women’s and you still have a true statement.

    • Rock on,girl! You’re incredibly eloquent and really help explain the role that women’s colleges play for leadership preparation.

  16. I don’t understand why everything has to be turned in a Scripps vs. CMC girl issue, in the end we are all facing the same issues and are all trying to overcome the problems that all women face. While I generally see it more coming from the CMC female population, the women of the 5Cs should come together rather than tear each other apart by invalidating the other’s experience. That will get women nowhere.

  17. I think that this article is a perfect example of what Pfeiffer calls “preconceived ideas about a women’s college.” The arguments made here are exactly the kind that women face when they choose to attend a women’s college. And the fact that we choose to attend women’s colleges anyway doesn’t seem to indicate that we’re hiding in a hole “collectively agonizing”; instead, it shows that we’re strong enough to face these misconceptions. I’d also like to say that Scripps isn’t sheltered at all. It’s a supportive community, but we also interact with students at the other Claremonts (which obviously include men), join 5C clubs (with men), and take 5C classes (guess what? with men). In fact, going to Scripps means facing stereotypes articulated by both men and women at the other colleges. It means being labelled as feminist (and in a bad way) when you point out sexism or other inequalities. Why is it a bad thing to recognize and want to change these facts of society?

    Also, glorifying CMC for being a place full of inequality and sexism is a disservice to your school. CMC is recognized as a great college, so why choose these flaws to brag about because they reflect the structure of society? Why even think that CMC reflects society as it is, when college itself is a sheltered bubble comprised mostly of the privileged upper-middle class?

    I guess what I don’t understand is why you felt the need to attack Scripps, when Pfeiffer didn’t attack CMC. I don’t want to assume that this is just a result of the usual antagonism toward women’s colleges that stems from a fear or condescension toward women working together and supporting each other, rather than competing with each other. What makes you a stronger woman for attacking your own gender just for choosing to go to different school?

    • I don’t believe Shannon is trying to glorify sexism or inequality at CMC. Rather, she is responding to the claims of the original article (published in the Huffington Post) which asserts that at CMC and the other colleges Pfeiffer would likely not have been able to be as accomplished as she is now.

      I think Shannon is trying to explain why going to a co-ed college can often be a better way to prepare for the challenges of the world than going to an all women’s college – not trying to glorify male dominated culture. While there are many ways that the palatial dorms at Scripps and the very well catered to lives at all of the 5c’s are not accurate representation of the real world, Shannon was merely commenting on the article published in HuffPo on the subject.

      Shannon’s intention does not seem to be to attack Scripps, but rather show why unlike Pfeiffer she does not believe that women’s colleges are the solution. Shannon offered a counterpoint, not an attack.

      • The people commenting in this discussion section are not arguing whether a women’s college or a coeducational college can better prepare one for the challenges of the world. There is no real answer to this question because college is such a personal experience for each individual. Women’s colleges are an option, not the option. Likewise, coeducational colleges are an option, not the option. Rather, the people commenting in this discussion section are arguing whether 1) such a vicious response to Pfeiffer’s was warranted and 2) whether CMC is actually less “idyllic” than Scripps. These questions however do have real answers: 1) absolutely not, this article is an unwarranted attack on students who chose to attend Scripps and 2) absolutely not, college (especially one of the Claremont Colleges) is not anything like the “real world”. Miller ought to check her privilege and realize not everyone grew up in the same sheltered, idyllic northern California suburb as she did.

        She also ought to find a new coffeehouse, for I highly doubt she will be welcome at Motley anymore.

        • Did you grow up in Berkeley? I did, and I was one of Shannon’s peers in one of the largest high schools in the nation. Our school had 3,500 kids and we had more guns on our campus in any given day than you’ve probably seen in your life. Berkeley is not idyllic in any sense of the word. Maybe you should do some research yourself before calling out a city that has over 50 homicides a year for being a suburb. I find this comment disgraceful.

        • Cool story bro. When you question the background of a person, make sure you’re right. Otherwise, there are problems. I have no idea where you grew up, but I can guarantee you that her background helped shape her into someone who enjoys a fight more than having something handed to her on a golden platter

        • how can you guys even attempt to define what the real world is? it changes every place you go and there’s no point competing for what’s more challenging than the other. women in india get raped every 20 minutes, and hey if shannon decided to live there i don’t think cmc or scripps could equip her for that reality. my point isnt to remove attention from issues that you have experienced. the point is that shannon, you, and I am in no position to declare what somebody is prepared for or not, because the situation they might find themselves in can vary from Berkely to Claremont to Ghana. this is a stupid point to get upset about and only reflects how self obsessed you all are.

        • Getting back on topic, I think we should remember that Shannon’s article was a response to an article called, “Don’t Like the Gender Gap? Women’s Colleges Might Just Be the Answer”. This argument is not about calling CMC “real” and Scripps “idyllic” – I think we all acknowledge that no one at the Claremont Colleges is living in the “real world”, so your argument is running pretty unchallenged at the moment.

        • Bahaha! Where did you get your data? 50 murders a year?! Napoleon Complex, anyone? Perhaps it would be wise to take your own advice on the research front. A visit to your neighboring city of Oakland wouldn’t hurt either, you know, to help you do your research on what is or is not idyllic in “any sense of the word”.

          From the City of Berkeley:

          2008: 9 murders
          2009: 6 murders
          2010: 6 murders
          2011: 1 murder
          2012: 5 murders

        • Whoa. Motley is a safe place for everyone. Shannon is more than welcome at the Motley. We are not that petty as to decline service or act rudely just because of one article.

  18. I think it is important to note that Peiffer’s article was not written in opposition to CMC, or to prove that it is somehow a terrible place. As an alumna of Scripps, I wish you had taken the time to speak to a Scripps student about their experience rather then just rag on the idea of a women’s college. Deciding to go to a women’s college does not mean you are attempting to escape society. It is giving yourself an opportunity to learn and be an in an environment that recognizes that women have been discriminated against for centuries. I am not longer at Scripps, but every single day I am thankful for my experience there, and I am perfectly fine in a co-ed environment. In fact, I truly believe I am better off. I would highly encourage you to speak to someone who has attended Scripps. Good luck with the all-boys club.

  19. “Find her at the Rose Institute or the Motley” – you don’t cross 9th street huh? And since you have, you’ve probably realized there are men everywhere here as well. Sexism is internalized, it doesn’t just exist with men. We’re trained in confidence at Scripps, at that applies whether or not there are men in the room.

    • This outlook on CMC feminism is just as negative as Shannon’s outlook on Scripps’ version of feminism. At CMC, we too are trained in confidence, whether or not there are men in the room.

  20. Okay, so you disagree with Pfeiffer. You have an opinion. Good for you for speaking out.

    The problem with your article is that you take things too far for anyone to take your points really seriously.

    Do you really believe that the intent of Scripps students is “to hide out in a college full of other women, collectively agonizing over society’s sexist underpinnings and rallying around the energizing but vague bastion of the feminist cause”?

    Scripps isn’t an all-girls bubble. Any length of time spent on campus would tell you that, which by your tagline about the Motley, you probably have.

    While it makes sense that you would use your own experiences as a woman at a co-ed college, the article was’t a personal attack on you or on CMC. It is possible for one member of the consortium to do something without making it about the others.

    Furthermore, Scripps is a member of a consortium and therefore far from the stereotypical image of the women’s college in the middle of nowhere which you seem to play off of in your article. Our classes, with the exception of Scripps-only requirements, have men in them and also have male professors. I don’t entirely agree with Pfeiffer, but your blatant attack on Scripps is both unwarranted and upsetting.

    I suggest that you read the article another Scripps student recently wrote about Beyonce. Whether or not you care about Beyonce (I don’t particularly), she makes some important points about how being feminist has somehow been given a bad name and incorrect associations. Being for women does not make you against men. Being for women’s colleges does not make you against coeducational ones. It’s just another option, one that works better for some people.

    I am a Scripps student. That said, I don’t believe in single-gender educations because in the real world you do have to deal with both men and women, and I prefer having male and female friends. I shudder at the thought of going to an isolated one-gender school. Because it isn’t for me. Thankfully we have to opportunity to choose where we go to school. I chose Scripps. You chose CMC. Good for both of us.

    What is your personal issue about Scripps?

    Because there’s clearly something more going on here than a disagreement with Pfeiffer.

  21. Just wanted to let you know that this is one of the best-written and most thought out pieces I’ve ever read on the Forum. I was absolutely floored to find out you’re a freshman. Keep doin you.

    • I respectively disagree with you. I felt that her analysis of the value of a women’s college was very shallow and uninformed.

  22. I think the bigger problem here is the author’s acceptance of Pfeiffer’s view of Scripps as the status quo. Moreover, the comparison is moot because, for all practical purposes, Scripps is unlike most women’s colleges. It thrives, although secluded, within a coeducational environment. This is not to downplay Scripps’ importance as a women’s college, but to understand that as much as each of the 5Cs work to be individual institutions they are indelibly tied together. Also, to retort the final line, I would argue that all colleges–especially here in Claremont- shelter their students to an almost absurd level. Do not all of the Colleges still take part in the astoundingly vague “Bias Related Incident” Reporting policy? There are far better colleges to be used to try and illustrate the point than CMC and Scripps.

    • I agree completely; each of the schools is an incredibly unrealistic bubble in its own way, all five are an incredibly unrealistic bubble together. It’s a bit of a fallacy to compare any of them to the “real world”, because none of them reflect it at all. In any case, the “real world” is also 51% female.

  23. I could discuss the various ways that I disagree with the way this article presents Scripps and women’s colleges in general, but many of the other commenters have done a very eloquent job of respectfully breaking down many of the argument’s flaws.

    What I really want to point out is that we are all a consortium. One of the reasons I chose to go to Scripps was because I would have many of the great aspects of a women’s college, but I was also excited to share resources, courses, clubs and communities with the other four colleges surrounding me. Elisabeth Pfeiffer’s article discussed the many merits of a women’s college in the context of the gender gap, mostly pointing out that a definite gender gap still exists and women’s colleges can provide an empowering and supportive environment for women. She did not criticize coed colleges or other students’ choices to attend them. My main problem with this article is that it seems to focus on criticizing Scripps, which is sad. I felt that Scripps was the right choice for me, and I’m glad that the author of this article feels like CMC provides her the kind of experience she wants. But we shouldn’t forget that we are in a greater, shared 5C community as well. I benefit from the many clubs, courses, and seminars offered at CMC, and its pragmatic approach to liberal arts education. And, while she may not realize it, the author of this article also enjoys many of the benefits of Scripps – seminars on women in business, courses focused on gender-awareness, and student spaces like the Motley, which, according to her bio, she frequents.

    The great thing about our consortium is that it provides such a diversity of different clubs, communities, courses, and perspectives. While it’s great to engage in a dialogue about the gender gap and what we can do to fix it, we should all be respectful to our peers, focus on improving our consortium community, and discuss these important issues. When you reduce your argument about the gender gap to belittling your peers’ institution, and insinuating that Scripps even “encourages” a gender gap, the conversation becomes completely unproductive.

  24. As a Scripps woman, I found this article extremely unsettling. I chose Scripps because the school gives me the opportunity to balance the all-women and coeducational environment. Inferring that we are sheltering ourselves from the real world is just inaccurate. Scripps gives women the opportunity to hold more leadership positions, feel comfortable in an all-female dorm situation, and hold power in class discussions.

    One of the main complaints I hear from female friends at other co-ed schools inside and outside the Claremont bubble is men are often aggressive in classroom settings and women often have to fight to get a word in. The “boys club” mentality holds true in class discussions as well as the social sphere. Being a female in a male dominated classroom provides a similar experience as a female playing sports with a group of men. You often will never be passed the ball unless you work for it yourself. At Scripps, we have the option to balance our academic experience with the competitive and encouraging discussion at the various campuses. I personally have no problem speaking up and fighting for my position in a co-ed class, yet many shyer students need the option of a less competitive environment. We aren’t all pursuing degrees and careers in politics or economics where that competition is necessary. Therefore an open accepting community is extremely helpful for women to gain confidence in their field.

  25. Ms. Miller, you appear to subscribe to the notion that success is only possible if you do it on the boys’ terms. At a women’s college, we leave living according to the patriarchy’s standards far behind. Scripps women recognize and utilize the option to not live according to (or define our the success of our careers by) values constructed by centuries of a patriarchal society, something that applies whether we are off campus or on.

    Of course, different colleges fit different people, and different feminists. I guess it’s a matter of preference. Women’s colleges just tend to attract the type who prefer not to consider themselves successful women based on how well they do compared to and as defined by male counterparts.

    (I’m not criticizing you; I just think it’s important to note that your article does not touch on much of what Scripps is about.)

    • I don’t think Shannon puts as much emphasis on male standards as you appear to focus on here. I think that the culture at CMC expects just as much from men as from women without calling it a “men’s standard”, or whatever it is that you mean by playing by the “boys’ terms”.

      I do agree, however, with your point about different feminists, and I think that’s what this very interesting debate revolves around. I hope that we all recognize that in discussing this issue, and I hope to learn from the students who are bold enough to offer lucid responses like yours.

      • I think you are right that CMC does not label what it expects from its students as standards set by a male population, and I agree that Shannon does not emphasize this as much as my previous comment implies that she does.

        I was thinking more, though, about how Shannon appears to speak from a mindset that is structurally patriarchal — not that she herself subscribes to the patriarchy, but she does not look outside of the lens of our society, which is inherently patriarchal.

        It’s difficult to describe this in a few paragraphs, but I’m thinking about structural sexism, “intelligence” and “success” as ideas of [patriarchal] social construct, and other factors that have shaped Shannon’s experience and how she wrote this article. My point is that these factors are deconstructed at Scripps through things like the very intense Core I. (No doubt other Scripps students can discuss this all much more accurately and articulately than I do.)

        But yes, differences in feminist theory is also something to be thought of in instances such as this.

        • I find it odd that you talk about leaving behind the concept of achieving success “on boys terms” when traditionally “male” success (advancement in politics, business, science, etc.” is precisely what a lot of feminists like you are pushing for. Ever think that perhaps these “patriarchal standards” imposed by society are just the standards given EVERYONE in these fields? Ever think that it’s slightly insulting to imply that women aren’t capable of just womaning up and meeting these standards? It’s perfectly fine to acknowledge that success isn’t exclusive to traditionally “male” realms, but advocating that women achieve stereotypically “male” success while simultaneously pushing to disown the “patriarchal social construct” of success is just intellectually dishonest in my opinion.

  26. Pfeiffer’s piece says nothing about Scripps being superior to CMC in anyway – it is simply her opinion about her experience at a women’s college. This article is extremely uncalled for and seems to be arguing something that was never brought up in the first place…

    • I think that no matter what criticisms one may have with the article, this is the profound problem with it to begin with.

  27. I was so disappointed to read this article this morning. As a Scripps senior, and a GWS major, I have so much respect for women across all 5Cs, and pitting the women of the consortium against one another in such a manner is a pointless activity that doesn’t further anyone’s cause. I was initially not planning on commenting on an article I find so flawed (especially since others have done such a great job pointing out those flaws), however it truly saddens me to see such a needless attack on an entire student body from a young woman across the street. To say that Scripps students are indulging in the fantasy that is a women’s college, while essentially calling us weak, naïve and ignorant shows that the author lacks a basic understanding of not only Scripps, but the Consortium as a whole.

    We all came here because we wanted to be challenged in some way, and every day I am so thankful for the forward-thinking, brilliant people I am surrounded by- not only women, not only at Scripps, but across all five campuses. We all have our differences, however we all should also have basic respect for one another- a respect that this article is woefully lacking. My time at Scripps has taught me more than I could have possibly ever imagined, and I feel completely ready to face the obstacles of the real world come May- not in spite of my time in this “shelter of a women’s college”, but because of it. Scripps has taught me that learning to work within the systems of oppression in our current society is not enough- we need fight these systems, and be the ones to change them.

  28. 1. i think both types of colleges should exist. You chose what best fits your wants and needs. One is not intrinsically better than the other. I think Pitzer is the best because it is the best for me–not because I think it is the best school by nature for everyone.

    2. FYI Hilary Clinton attended Wellesley, an all-girls school

    • 1.y a…

      2. Oh ya and she is the model example of how to deal with men. Does Scripps teach a course on staying with assholes who cheat on you!??!?!?

  29. i am not weakened or scared by men and yet i chose to go to an all-women’s college. SHOCKING! why? because i wanted to be around other women who understood their own strengths and wanted to be in an environment in which those strengths were showcased

  30. for me, and for most of my friends, we did not intend to go to a women’s college initially– we chose scripps because we saw what kind of environment it affords and what kind of graduates it produces. i chose to go to scripps over cmc because i wanted to be like the women i saw coming out of that institution.

  31. “Women cannot learn about the “female struggle” by rejecting the environment from which these struggles are born.” Yes, you can. A woman grows up knowing that struggle, even if she is not learning it form a book. At Scripps, we have a greater focus on that “struggle” as well as many others. That is the best way to learn about an injustice– to reject it, to fight against it with your whole being, to live in a way that rejects its very basis. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

    • You seem to imply that Scripps women are in a better position to fight injustice than Pomona or CMC girls who are in class with men and know how to compete, interact with, and often beat them.

      “I hope to god the real world isnt like CMC. though I would watch “Real World: CMC””

      It is good you can admit you have no idea what the real world is like. Unfortunately with your attitude you will probably disappointed with good ole society. CMC while more conservative than most is still a liberal arts college…. 99% of students go to places much more old school and “backwards” (I would argue this point but for the sake of discussion will go with it) than CMC and I wish you the best of luck finding happiness in that atmosphere.

      As a last point, I would estimate that about 25% of Scripps girls I meet should not be at a Women’s College for a huge variety of reasons it seems to be seriously hindering them. For most, I think it is a great fit.

  32. I hope to god the real world isnt like CMC. though I would watch “Real World: CMC”

    • As a transfer from a big state school with experience in the business world, I’d venture to say that the social constructs at CMC are fairer than in the real world. Good luck out there.

  33. Shannon,

    I’ve read this several times in the past few minutes, and continue to be saddened and frustrated by the not only your generalizing and uninformed statements, but the realization that your opinion is probably endemic of many students at Claremont McKenna, the other 5Cs, and the larger population of women our age. Essentially, your article seems to argue against feminist communities and endorse an “every (wo)man for herself” model. This is first of all historically inaccurate; first and second wave feminism were successful only due to the creation of strong female communities in which women worked together in order to empower themselves and each other. These communities made a space for women to form strategies against both personal and political misogyny which they could then deploy in the “real world” to work against the prevailing establishment.

    We are not past the need for feminism, and it seems as though you realize this. Yet you nonetheless slyly reinforce the negative connotations of women’s colleges throughout this article in order to defend your own decision to attend a co-educational institution. As others have pointed out, Scripps is by no means a secluded haven, a bastion of idealism, or a community which constructs for its students a false worldview. It is a community of students that exist very much in this still-problematic world, exposed to the same sexism in our day-to-day lives. I believe we can be feminists in a multiplicity of environments and situations, and yes, you can by all means be just as informed and conscientious at a co-ed college. But based on this article, it doesn’t seem as if you’ve taken your own advice and enrolled in any GWS or gender studies classes. Furthermore, you are alienating fellow women, fellow classmates, and potential colleagues in our continued attempt to—not vaguely, not wistfully, not idealistically, but ACTUALLY and NECESSARILY continue to work towards female empowerment and gender equality. Those statistics you cited about CMC’s 8% minority in the Student Investment Fund should be all the evidence you need.

    Let’s stop bringing each other down and work together, please.

    Sophie (Scripps senior)

  34. Scripps is the epitome of feminist bullshit. Can’t wait to graduate.

    • I really hope that you are not a Scrippsie. If you feel this way, please discuss why and reach out to the people at this school, because I’m sure they have criticisms as well as praise to share too!

  35. “the women at CMC learn, grow, and succeed in a realistic environment”


    “in an inaccurately idyllic setting”

    yeah, if we had guys like cmc, we wouldn’t live in an idyllic setting where we live in huge dorms w buffet-style food in almost constant sunshine in which our privilege is rarely questioned and where we almost never have to deal with serious crime and the pot and alcohol flow constantly with no real consequence! TOTEZZZ!

    • Not to be this guy, but based on median salary and our climbing rankings, that pretty much will be our real world if we so choose………

      • cept in her feminist rage she forgot to mention our sweet cars, mansions, private foundations (oh wait we are assholes incapable of helping others so scratch that or feeling human emotions), watches, and hot wives(or is that sexist of me to want an attractive life partner?)!!!!

  36. Trust me. It’s a huge challenge to go to a women’s college- we keep have to argue with you about our choice to attend a women’s college.

  37. As others have said, this article completely misses the
    point of Elisabeth Pfeiffer’s article. Pfeiffer says that women’s
    representation in leadership roles, both in the political sphere and otherwise,
    is essential for political and economic progress (see Hilary Clinton’s final
    speech as Secretary of State for more on this –,
    and that a women’s college can help instill leadership and inspire
    independence. And these are not just empty words. As mentioned in Pfeiffer’s
    article, graduates of women’s colleges comprise of more than 20 percent of
    women in Congress and 30 percent of rising women in corporate America, facts
    conveniently ignored here.

    However, this is not the main issue I had with this article.
    The author suggests that we Scripps women seclude ourselves within our idyllic
    gardens, remaining sheltered from the harsh world of men. While this stereotype
    might be convenient to the article’s flawed logic, it is so obviously untrue it
    makes for a very ridiculous argument. The idea that somehow, because we attend
    a women’s college, we ignore gender inequality rather than living it, is
    absurd. If only it were that easy to escape! You think we haven’t experienced
    sexism firsthand as well? We may not be part of your “boy’s club”, but we do
    work within the system, as the author puts it, of this inherently patriarchal
    world in which we find ourselves. Saying that gender-based obstacles “simply
    don’t exist within a women’s college” is incredibly ignorant and is missing the
    larger issue.

    While I do not have any doubt in the author’s genuine desire
    to fight gender inequality, it is both ironic and sad that the point of view
    expressed in this article (i.e. “Come at me, inequality. I can take it.”) is
    only further perpetuating the gender gap. Accepting gender inequality as an
    inevitable, unalterable reality whose confines we as women must work within
    prevents even the possibility of change.

    Finally, categorizing and degrading an entire college of
    women does not bring us any closer to equality. Drawing diving lines between
    groups of women, the “us” of coeducational institutions and the “them” of
    women’s colleges, will only set us back. We must respect one another and
    recognize that, although there are differences in how we have chosen to educate
    ourselves, and although we might not always agree on how best to fight gender
    inequality, we are all on the same side in this struggle.

  38. As a girl who goes to CMC, I strongly disagree with you that CMC does a good job at “closing the gender gap.” There has been multiple attempts by students and my close friends to introduce female friendly clubs and organizations to the campus. They fail everytime. Not only because of the dominant male culture, but also because the girls do just about anything to not fall under the “stereo-type” of a typical girl. A lot of the girls here feel empowered by judging others and aren’t real girls anyways…

        • Nope! I got nothing better to do. I’m a white male and according to a lot of these comments everything in life should be handed to me right…… NOW!

    • couldn’t be more spot on….this article does nothing for cmc’s rep besides point out how the girls are considered one of the guys

  39. As someone who is currently pursuing a Gender Studies sequence I am honestly getting really sick of women complaining about the gender gap. Claiming victimhood empowers no one. It seems to me indulgent that in the 21st century we are still whining about the “oppression of women” in this country demonstrated by the gender gap when there are other countries in this world where women are being subjected to female genital mutilation and being beaten for removing a veil.

    • while i understand your point, I’m still not really okay with being paid less relative to a man based on the pay scale and norms of the country I live in just because I don’t have to worry (as much! I still have to worry!) about being beaten. While I agree that serious work needs to be done for women around the world, I don’t think that means that we have to stop trying to reach equality in this country. It’s just that we have a bit less of a way to go than some other women do. We are fortunate for this, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do more for ourselves while simultaneously helping others. I would have thought as someone pursuing a gender studies sequence you would understand that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • As someone who increasingly speaks out against gender inequalities in
      American society, I often get the knock about “playing the victim,”
      “demonizing men” and pushing for special treatment where inequality no
      longer exists. Yes, the status of women in many other countries is
      deplorable to the point of making our problems look minimal. But they’re
      aren’t really minimal and they definitely exist. I’m surprised you
      haven’t recognized that as a GWS major and I hope you realize that soon.

  40. “We don’t become leaders by thriving in an atmosphere that artificially eradicates sexism but by fighting to earn our success under the same conditions we’ll face once we graduate.” We don’t artificially eradicate sexism, instead we create an environment that doesn’t tolerate it under any circumstance. Now I know you cannot say that about CMC, or any form of patriarchal institution.

  41. While I wasn’t deeply thrilled with the original article by Pfeiffer, this response operates on a very sad underlying assumption. That assumption being that there is only so much female empowerment in the universe…as if the empowerment of the students of Scripps would inherently take away from the supply available to CMC.

    And while this is a response to Pfeiffer’s gendered article, I would also like to point out that not everyone at Scripps is, in fact, a woman (just as I would like to point this out to Pfeiffer). Thanks for opening up this debate.

  42. In the name of freedom, douchebaggery and the well-being of redheads everywhere… I would like to highlight the fact that not a single commenter has mentioned the fact that the author of this post is female and thus should only be taken half-seriously.

  43. “We can educate ourselves about gender inequality by taking women’s studies classes, watching Hillary Clinton’s “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” speech, and talking to other women about gender issues.”

    Oh btw Hillary Clinton went to Wellesley.. Which i THINKKKK is a women’s college.

  44. We share a science department. We have cross registration.
    Still want to insult our educations?

  45. Many of the Scripps women (and others!) have left really wonderful responses to this article in the comments, so I won’t repeat their points. Instead, I’d just like to share my post-Scripps experience.

    While at Scripps, I majored in math (something I’m pretty sure I would not have done anywhere else), and I am currently completing my doctorate in mathematics at a highly-regarded research university. The department here (like most other math departments in large universities) is no more than 25% female, with most of the women being grad students, instructional faculty, or post-docs. We only have a handful of tenured female professors in a department with 50-75 tenured positions. I’m surrounded by some really great men and women, but I fight against sexist comments, commentary, and assumptions every day, as do most of my female colleagues. However, my undergraduate experience of mathematics at Scripps was so devoid of those struggles that I could concentrate on learning a difficult subject and gaining confidence in myself as a mathematician, without the ever-present background static of sexism that I hear now. This experience was invaluable to me in my first couple years of grad schools, since I knew what my own capabilities were, and thus could differentiate between someone pointing out my actual limitations and someone making sexist assumptions about my abilities. Had I had to experience the subtle signals that most women in STEM fields experience during my formative years as a mathematician, I don’t know if I would have been able to finish an undergraduate degree in math, let alone two graduate degrees.

    A very good friend of mine majored in math at Harvey Mudd and is finishing her doctorate at the same university. She’s someone I have a lot of respect for, moreso because she did not let anything get in the way of her degree either. However, women with her determination AND her mathematical confidence are rare, and places like Scripps which allow women like me to build our mathematical confidence in a safe space before forcing us to constantly prove our mettle in largely-male departments are to be valued.

    So far, the only women making it into grad school in departments like mine are ones who are particularly confident in their mathematical abilities. With issues like stereotype threat and the general sexism still entrenched in the old guards of many mathematics departments, it’s easy to see why mathematically-talented young women may shy away from the subject, or underestimate their own abilities. Because of Scripps and because of all-women’s programs like EDGE, I’m close to getting a PhD. In mathematics. I cannot put a price on the experience that these all-women’s environments have provided me, but I know I will be indebted to them for my whole life.

    • You raise a very interesting point for discussion, and it’s great to hear from an alumnus in this enlightening debate! As a math major at CMC, I find that my instinctual reaction is “If I can do it, others have no excuse”, but after reading your post, I understand the benefits of being in a safe environment in formative years. My only question is: Were you at all taken aback or slowed in your progress when you first began graduate work in such a male-dominated environment? I think Shannon’s argument highlights that in an environment more reflective of the real world, we learn to fight these battles early, rather than going so far and then being taken down by others.

    • Thank you for posting this comment! I also graduated with a math degree from Scripps, and like you, I really don’t think I would have chosen that major if I had studied elsewhere. I accredit my decision to major in math to the supportive, non-competitive environment of my first math class at Scripps. Some women know they love math (or other STEM fields) going into college, which is great. However, my math classes at Scripps were the first time I ever got a chance to see brilliant women in action in a math-oriented setting, asking really good questions, and fully engaging in the class. It was really inspiring, and it made me think of math in whole new way.
      I don’t doubt that the other 5 C’s have the ability to foster a passion and curiosity in math within their female students. Clearly, they do. I just know from my own experience what a cool thing it can be to see a math class packed full of brilliant women, and the power it can have in prompting one to think “I could become one of them.”

  46. Whether you agree with the article or not, there is no need to attack the author Shannon Miller personally. The article is well-written, and based upon the comments below, seems to have really struck a nerve in the community.

    What I’ve gleaned from reading the two opposed articles [Miller’s and Pfeiffer’s] is that they have two different opinions on how to tackle the gender gap. Pfeiffer applauds Scripps for helping her become a leader, a skill she will certainly use to succeed in the real world. Miller recognizes the gender gap at CMC as a motivating factor, and claims her experience overcoming it in college will help her excel after.

    It is no different than a student believing they will be better prepared for his or her future at a liberal arts institute than a large school. Both institutions have similiar end goals, just different ways of accomplishing them.

  47. The fact that you use the word “pragmatism” to describe CMC, the very word their admissions office uses to advertise the school in itself makes your article all the more laughable.

  48. Shannon,

    As a recent graduate of Scripps College and the Claremont Colleges I am various parts offended, saddened and confused by your article.

    I attended a coed public high school, a private coed liberal arts school for a year, transferred to Scripps for the last three years of my undergrad education, and am now in a coed graduate program where roughly 55% of my class is male. Given my experience in both types of environments, I am saddened that you feel that my time at Scripps was any less beneficial than my time at coed institutions. You say “the real world is nothing like the shelter of a women’s college” and that Scripps students are “hid[ing] out in a college full of other women, collectively agonizing over society’s sexist underpinnings and rallying around the energizing but vague bastion of the feminist cause.” Well, I can tell you that just as you feel that the real world is nothing like the shelter of a women’s college, neither are the Claremont Colleges like the real world. Before attacking Scripps’ preparation of its students for the “real world,” you may also want to be concerned with the Claremont Colleges’ insular nature in general. I do not think that I spend any of my time at Scripps hiding out from the real world. Instead, I spent my time among the several colleges as well as the communities of Claremont and Pomona. I and many of my peers took advantage of the opportunities across the consortium and outside of the “bubble.”

    Your article also intimates that graduates of a women’s college are ill-prepared for the “real world.” I can tell you that many of my current peers likely do not even remember or know that I attended a women’s college. They also would likely tell you that such an education in no way marred or ill prepared me for succeeding in a coed environment. My experience at Scripps made me more confident in the classroom and my ability to pursue difficult goals. I also highly doubt that any of my professors, past or present, would say that I was disadvantaged by going to Scripps. In fact, being able to say that I attend Scripps or the Claremont Colleges has only been met with praise for the wonderful opportunities the consortium offers. At my current school I am friends with a wide range of students that attended private, public, coed, women’s, or community colleges. The beauty of college is the ability to choose the right fit for you.

    I’m also curious to know, did you ask any Scripps students about their experience at a women’s college? If not, why would you not want to know first hand how such students feel about the very environment that you so clearly contempt? There are several students like myself who transferred from a coed school to Scripps who absolutely loved it. I know a handful of Scripps students that transferred to coed schools. By talking to any of these students you may gain a broader understanding of the pros and cons to this kind of education. Did you attend an all girls high school? I’m assuming you did not, and thus, why do you have such contempt for women’s schools? If you have not experienced any supposed adverse effects from such institutions then how do you even know they exist? Are you friends with any students at Scripps or any of the other four colleges? If not I would urge you to make the most of the consortium; one of the best parts about the Claremont Colleges was getting to learn from all the diverse and unique people I met at all the schools.

    You say that you “wanted to enter a school that would push [you] to be stronger and bolder, not indulge [your] weaknesses by protecting me from “injustice” in an inaccurately idyllic setting.” Are not all the 5C’s challenging schools? We each take classes at all of the schools (at least I did) and we are all graded and held to the same standards. Are all 5C’s not also all fairly idyllic? There are very few places in the country that look like a finely manicured Claremont Colleges lawn. Exactly what weaknesses do you think Scripps students indulge? As far as I know, each school has its strengths and weaknesses but not a single 5C school seeks to shelter their students and encourage the continuation of those weaknesses. Further, why do you put the word injustice in quotes? Injustice is real and pervasive. The Claremont Colleges may be a sheltered bubble, but one quick train ride away to many neighborhoods of LA can quickly show you the harsh truth of injustice that many live with every day. Injustice is very real and it includes sexism.

    As many have pointed out, Pfeiffer’s article did not attack CMC, yet you seemed to have taken it that way. I am sorry for any at the Claremont Colleges who feel an animosity between any of the schools. Unfortunately, articles like this one only contribute to such animosity. When I first got to Scripps, especially coming from a coed school, I didn’t understand some of the underlying tension. With each year I spent there I gained more friends across the schools and gained a greater appreciation for what each school has to offer. No one is claiming that Scripps is a better institution than CMC. I honestly chose Scripps because at the time I was committed to studying Anthropology and getting a humanities education. It would not have made sense to go to CMC given my interests. Likewise, I understand the unique perspective that CMC offers, given its pragmatic approach. Please, do not spend your next few years hating Scripps or any of the other colleges, take advantage of the collaborative environment the consortium can offer you. When you graduate no one is really going to care whether or not you went to a coed school. What’s important is your ability to collaborate with and understand people with perspectives different than your own. I went to Scripps and I seem to be doing just fine. I don’t cower in my coed classes. I also don’t go on fiery feminists rants. i assert my opinions and listen to and engage with my classmate’s differing world views.

    You may think that “we don’t become leaders by thriving in an atmosphere that artificially eradicates sexism but by fighting to earn our success under the same conditions we’ll face once we graduate,” but I found that Scripps made me more confident as a leader than ever. As a naturally shy person, Scripps gave me the opportunity to grow and find my voice, through the classroom and taking on leadership roles in various student organizations. I can honestly say that my college experience made me feel empowered as a leader to succeed in graduate school (and hopefully as a professional). While CMC may be the best place for you personally to become a leader, please do not continue to disparage those of us who found our strength at a women’s college.

    Lastly, you should not be so quick to assume that women’s colleges are solely the domain of hiding, cowering women. Students at Scripps are strong and outspoken individuals. Further, there are many students at Scripps that do not identify as women. In my opinion, Scripps certainly meets its goal of preparing all of its students for active and meaningful participation in a diverse world.

    If anything, I hope you are at least persuaded by my comments and others to reach out to Scripps students. Talk to them about their perspective and their experiences. And please know that it is every bit as possible for a Scripps graduate to succeed in post grad life as it is for any Claremont Colleges student.

    Nadia (Scripps Alumna)

  49. For those women out there who believe that going to Scripps gives you a leg up on our female counterparts in becoming a leader in government, as Elisabeth, suggests consider this: the average age of a member of the 112th Congress was 62.2 for Senators and 56.7 for House members. This means that on average those women were beginning college between the late 1960s and mid 1970s. In other words, a time when a much larger percentage of women were being educated at women’s colleges. Why is this you ask? Because many top tier schools, like Yale for example, didn’t accept women at that time. The larger point is that women who are finally hitting their stride in careers today did not search for nor attend colleges in the same environment that, as Elizabeth implies, exists today. Scripps today is nothing like it was in the 60s and the women who attend it now are probably much different from the women that did so in the past. It is impossible for Elisabeth to support that women’s colleges are the answer to the gender gap. There is no co-ed college control group to compare women’s college graduates of the 60s and 70s to. Thus, Elisabeth’s point is misleading at best. She will have to wait a couple decades for a control group to develop to support that assertion.

  50. Good timing with this article, Shannon. It breathes new life into the Forum at such a critical time. Just when you thought the Forum couldn’t be any further from a forum (a place for ideas and discussion) with all the 8:27’s and reports of already-well-known happenings, Shannon comes to the rescue and resuscitates the website with an actual OPINION piece that brings in tons of new web traffic. Way to go Shannon! Now there is some energy in the site. Before, it was merely a safe catalog of school-related events that were already communicated to students via school email. So what is the lesson learned? If you want to climb the ladder in your school newspaper/mag/website, you need to write a piece that is so antagonistic, so ridiculous, so misinformed and misguided that it JUST MIGHT WORK. What you need to do is stereotype, criticize, blame, and disparage your peers to the top of the game (even if they’re your friends, ’cause you gotta do what it takes, son). word.

  51. Is it just me or are 5 in 8 Forum writers cripplingly pretentious?

  52. Hey Shannon,

    I really enjoyed reading this article, and I’m glad you brought this issue to so many people’s attention. I just wanted to contribute my own views.

    I’m a first year at Wellesley College, and while I’m still adjusting to being at a women’s college, I have to disagree with you that we have made the choice to “hide out in a college full of other women, collectively agonizing over society’s sexist underpinnings and rallying around the energizing but vague bastion of the feminist cause.” On the contrary, it is quite empowering to walk into a classroom full of women who feel there are no barriers to their success; perhaps it was just my high school, but I find that a much higher percentage of women speak up than did in my high school classes.

    I also resent your suggestion that women’s colleges are not challenging, and do not push their students to be bold. “Real life” cannot be perfectly imitated at any small, liberal arts schools; neither at any of the Claremont Colleges nor at Wellesley. Rather, I think it is the preparation for the difficulties and choices of our adult lives that matter most, not the imitation of those settings. While I certainly agree with you that it would not be productive to encourage women to have unrealistic perceptions of and expectations for “life after college,” I do not believe this to be the case. Although there are very few men in our classes, there is by no means an “absence of men.” In fact, about half of our professors are men. Women’s colleges are not places to hide out; they are places to explore one’s fullest potential in a community that is without limitations. While you see that as a problem that “breeds ignorance and naivety,” I see it as a chance for self-realization, so that we may have no excuse not to live up to those high standards we set for ourselves – and which we learn we can meet and exceed – after graduating. Alumnae of women’s colleges, such as Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Cokie Roberts, Diane Sawyer, Katherine Hepburn, Betty Friedan, Gabrielle Giffords, and Nancy Pelosi (to name a few), prove that, as women’s colleges are places that value the education of women above all else, students are able to see that their success is not a “fantasy,” like you say. It is a reality, and one that they can explore fully far beyond the boundaries of their campuses.

    I appreciate that a women’s college may not be the place for you, and I’m glad you have found the perfect fit at CMC. I would, however, ask that you respect those of us who have found our fit at a women’s college, and that you not judge us as cowards, but instead understand that the community our schools provide is a stepping stone, rather than a pair of sunglasses, to our success.


    • Thoughtful response Emma. Can we have more critiques like this and less that attack the author personally?

  53. “Femininity is depicted as weakness, the sapping of strength, yet masculinity is so fragile that apparently even the slightest brush with the feminine destroys it.”—Gwen Sharp

    • Are you saying that CMC women are not feminine because masculinity exists with strength at CMC? This is demeaning to CMC women and presents a highly exclusive definition of what it is to be a woman. This is Shannon’s point entirely, that women can thrive in male-dominated environments without one or the other “breaking”.

      • “Men’s greatest weakness is their facade of strength, and women’s greatest strength is their facade of weakness.” Warren Farrell

  54. shame is something you experience many times in your life. this is one of those moments

  55. I went to CMC to be in a different environment than I am used to – more conservative, more religiously and geographically diverse, etc… – and I’m so glad I made that decision. I think CMC is right for some people (including some of the reasons Shannon discussed) and Scripps and many other colleges are right for others for many other reasons. This article and the comments are worth a read, and I think the biggest problem is the lack of recognition of how different places help different people thrive.

    Also – check out this previous forum article:
    An excerpt:
    “The best way to get people to learn to appreciate and respect each other,” offers [Professor] Halpern, “is through purposeful interaction” which presumably cannot be accomplished in a single-sex classroom. Scripps’ gender integration in academic settings escapes creating a learning divide between male and female groups.

  56. I don’t understand this article. Was this supposed to be somehow cathartic for you, Shannon? Do you find it annoying that maybe women who feel intimidated by a heavy male presence or have trouble speaking in front of crowds (no matter the audience’s gender makeup) want to enter into an environment where they’re encouraged by others who have been similarly reticent to learn to use their voices? It’s great that you think that CMC’s male-dominant environment is a fun challenge for women like you, but let’s take a question you pose in your forum post and revise it a little: “What makes CMC—or any other glorified old boys’ club—better than any environment where women are forcibly pigeonholed, based solely on the fact that SOME women manage to blossom and grow in that atmosphere?” Just because Scripps isn’t for you doesn’t mean that you have to attack it. In her article, Elisabeth certainly didn’t go after CMC–or any other school, for that matter–although we can safely assume, I think, that she doesn’t feel CMC would have been right for her. Where do you get off ranking certain circumstances under which some women manage to thrive as being somehow superior to ones that are better suited to other people? As a female Pomona junior who’s spent a fair amount of time at CMC for both academics and recreation, I realize that I wouldn’t have fared well if I had gone to CMC instead because I didn’t like the underlying assumption that being male and an athlete was the single path to automatic success. So again, chill with the hatred toward Scripps–maybe you didn’t need that particular breed of empowerment, but some women definitely do.

    • As much as I like your get-along message, I have to add that I am a Scripps student who neither feels intimidated by men nor has trouble speaking in front of crowds.
      I came here because I liked the school and the education.

      • i agree, and I didn’t mean that being intimidated by male-heavy environments and/or afraid of public speaking were the only reasons people choose Scripps!

  57. This is one of the most poorly argued articles I’ve ever read. It stems from ignorance into what a woman’s college is, especially a college like Scripps. Rather than being sheltered from gender gap issues and other issues, Scripps deconstructs those problems and empowers its students to question and tackle them. I have no doubt that CMC women are any less empowered than Scripps women, so why attack a college that faces the same issues as CMC in the broader context of college and life? Miller’s argument is flawed and porous, and reflects poorly on CMC as a college of critical-thinkers.

  58. I like CMC. I also like Scripps….’cause its girls are super fine and its cafeteria serves good sandwiches. ooooooooo! JK. LOL. Scripps and CMC are both one-of-a-kind institutions that are invaluable to a better tomorrow. Remember that the Claremont Colleges are one. That fact is only but our strength. Like siblings, we may bicker, but we shall have each other’s back (as we fight the Ivies) and propel each other forward.

    Although Shannon writes her sincere OPINION, it is my personal belief that she as well as all of us still owe the community and history of the Claremont Colleges a little more respect even if we believe them to be less than ideal. Let us hold our criticisms to ourselves and of ourselves. Neither Scripps nor CMC is a threat to anyone except the Ivy league. Were would CMC be without Scripps and vise versa? Both would probably not be here, or at least not be as successful. Where would the alumni gone before us be if not for the consortium? Idk, but because I’m a bit group narcissistic, I’m going to say they probably wouldn’t be where they are now, bettering the world.

    • While I find Shannon’s article to be problematic, your suggestion that she keep her opinion to herself for the sake of avoiding divisions might even be more problematic. If her opinion was based on good reasoning rather than prejudice, I would cheer her on for publishing what she did. The problem is that it wasn’t. But valid criticism shouldn’t be discouraged, yet you seem to be discouraging any criticism towards any of the 5C’s. Also, what’s your thing about fighting Ivies? it’s just a little bit weird and it seems like a shallow preoccupation.

  59. Could all the anger from Scrippsies be furthering the idea that they really can’t handle any opposition? Ironic that their hostile defense may be proof that they are underprepared for a world made up of more than feminists. Shannon Miller is an amazingly empowered woman whose strong opinions and courage are going to help her achieve whatever she sets her mind to in the future; as Scripps students who supposedly want to further female causes and encourage their fellow women, please stop discouraging her pride in her choice of education.

    • We’re responding to the condescension and the stereotypes that she’s leveling at us in this totally unwarranted tirade. I’m pretty sure we’re allowed to be angry when we’re baselessly accused of being weak and naive purely for our choice of where we go to school. She should stop discouraging our pride in our choice of education.

    • You might think you’re strong but please keep in mind that you go to CMC. ELIGY POLR. Namaste.

    • While I understand that your intent here was to commend the author for her bravery and eloquence in writing this article, I feel that the far majority of these comments are completely devoid of hostility. Of course there are some hurt feelings and knee jerk reactions, but that comes with the territory of an anonymous internet forum.
      Also, your argument here is not very productive, and in fact, stifles the type of dialogue you are complimenting Shannon for starting. If any Scripps student wants to respond to this comment, even an argument as eloquent as many of the ones below will likely be seen as a “hostile defense”, if you remain in the frame of mind you were in when you posted.
      I suggest you re-read some of these comments more objectively. Perhaps you’ll find evidence of a lot more empowered women if you don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the few negative remarks.

    • Anger is a natural (and genderless) response to an inaccurate and unjustified attack of your school, your choices, and your character. Reading this I was shocked, appalled, and infuriated.
      Furthermore, the problem with this article isn’t with a girl who is happy with her choice of school (that was the original article). The problem is the way she somehow thinks that she needs to tear down women’s colleges and particularly Scripps in order to support her own choice.
      I would agree with you that the author is certainly opinionated and brave. I say brave because she is going to have to take responsibility for what she has done here. This article is not controversial because it is thoughtful or revolutionary. It has received so much attention because it contains so many flagrant and offensive inaccuracies.
      Empowered is a difficult term to do well. I congratulate her for being published, but I would hardly say defending inequality because of a “that’s how things are” attitude is not empowered but perpetuating the status quo.

  60. “…what I looked for in my college experience was a challenge. I wanted to enter a school that would push me to be stronger and bolder, not indulge my weaknesses by protecting me from “injustice” in an inaccurately idyllic setting.” – #hogwash

  61. Pfeiffer’s article was not claiming that Scripps is superior to CMC, nor any other specific college. She was merely pointing out some of the advantages of a women’s college in her experience. Not once did she claim that Scripps–or women’s colleges in general–is the best choice for all women every where.

    Also, Pfeiffer did not claim that Congress needs to be a “room full of women”, but merely representative of the population of the United States, which would be 50% women, and which is a “microcosm of the real world.”

    And “indulging [our] weaknesses”? I don’t know what weaknesses you’re talking about; it sounds like you’re implying that being female in itself is a weakness. And that’s exactly the kind of thinking women’s colleges are trying to change.

  62. As a Scrippsie who spends most of her time at Keck (JOINT Science Department), I spend my days with brilliant Scripps women, brilliant CMC men and women, brilliant Pitzer men and women, and occasionally some brilliant Pomona and Mudd men and women. I came to Scripps to receive a good education and to experience the culture and community of all 5Cs. I think this article relies too heavily upon stereotypes of what Scripps and CMC appear to be and not heavily enough on the individuals who work together and occupy the same spaces at the Claremont College Consortium.

  63. Why do we hate on Scripps, Pomona, and Pitzer so much (and why do they all have such hatred for us, as well)? Call me an idealist, but I think the 5Cs would do better to coexist and, yes, acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses, but do so in order to learn and benefit rather than to tear each other down.

    Because, you’re right, a women’s college isn’t the only community in which a large number of “independent and intelligent women who are so motivated to make a difference” can exist, but in the same way, a women’s college isn’t the only place where women “collectively agonize over society’s sexist underpinnings.”

    Let’s be real: Scripps is an all-women’s college, yes, but it is by no means a 100% male-free “inaccurately idyllic setting.” Men are on the Scripps campus. They are in the dining hall, the classrooms, and yes, even the Motley. They are in their friends’ and girlfriends’ dorm buildings. They are in the gym. The women of Scripps are not isolated from men. They are not secluded. They aren’t hiding out behind steel bars and tall brick walls. Scripps provides women with a space in which they can feel comfortable and empowered, and there’s nothing bad about that. It isn’t an unrealistic way to go about life, because even in the real world, women who work alongside men can (and do) have spaces in which they feel comfortable and empowered.

    To suggest that there is something inherently inferior about women’s colleges and the education they offer about women’s issues is absolutely ridiculous. The CMC environment is not superior for education of gender inequality. Scripps isn’t, either. They’re different environments, yes, but “different” doesn’t have to imply that there is some sort of pecking order. Scripps and CMC (as well as the rest of the colleges) are both institutions in which women can learn about leadership and gender inequalities. They can both foster student’s interests and knowledge of these areas, and both churn out students who are strong, independent, intelligent, motivated, and able to thrive in the “real world.”

    • Please do not disregard the women at Harvey Mudd as not being a vital part of this debate. Their position in a rigidly male dominant field is just as difficult as the pursuit of business and liberal arts-minded careers.

  64. Shannon, do you know anything about the “real world” that you speak of so knowledgeably? Please attempt to define it for me. Please attempt to give an example of a single situation that captures the essence of this reality which apparently CMC equips you so well to deal with.
    There is no such place and there is no such example, because the only thing that’s reality is the here and now. Try to live in your practically gender-equal campus and that is the only reality you’re dealing with. Likewise, women from Scripps have chosen to live in a reality which means 100% women. If you think this is fantasy-land then I urge you again to cite some examples of more ‘realistic’ situations, you know, like CMC the private liberal arts college that doesnt give much financial aid and has an almost perfect representation of gender? Regardless, Scripps is the reality of their choice as CMC is yours and please by all means take advantage of the leadership skills and whatnot to get what you want out of life- and try not to hate on those who’d like to take advantage of the “unrealistic” opportunities that Scripps presents for them.

    Also try to expand your first-world-bubble to think about other places in the world when you decide to make such sweeping statements about being prepared for reality. I’m absolutely certain that CMC doesnt equip you for the slums in Bombay but that is not a place any less real than Claremont. The only thing that our liberal arts colleges prepare us for is critical thought, and while your opinions of Scripps are indeed critical, they do nothing for the movement of feminism and for the REAL (correct usage of the word) issues that women deal with EVERYWHERE in the world. Try to use your critique in the direction of a less noble mission, rather than dismissing our cause and claiming that you’re better equipped to deal with it.

    A concerned philosophy major

  65. “there is no substitute for actually battling and overcoming gender-based obstacles.” Maybe so, but going into the proverbial battle without the skills to overcome it is a recipe for disaster and/or mediocrity. Sexism is a complex issue that requires innovative answers on both the societal and individual level. For this reason I’m sympathetic to Pfeiffer’s contention that developing confident, well rounded female thinkers is more important towards the long term goal of gender equality then getting women to learn how to deal with sexism in practice ASAP at the frequent expense of their overall development as PEOPLE.

  66. The idea that you have to participate in the system in order to change it is a ridiculous one, and one that has been discredited by plenty of people. Certainly, if someone believes she learns, grow, and develops best in a space that lacks some of the systemic oppression she faces elsewhere and will face for the rest of her life, that shouldn’t be demeaned. Personally, I used to have a lot of trouble expressing myself (particularly in places where I was the minority). It was the spaces where I felt nurtured and supported that helped me gain confidence—confidence I now summon when I find myself in uncomfortable or oppressive situations. And yeah, I’m not sure why this article has such a competitive, attacking tone.

    • On the other hand, it takes a lot of courage to insult somebody through the anonymity of the internet, K. I’m going to have to neuralyze you for stupidity now.

  67. I don’t have much to contribute to the debate, but all I have to say is that this is a clear example of how women need come to a mutual understanding and cooperate to further the cause of women’s rights. Putting down your fellow woman only serves to divide us.

  68. Besides providing more opportunities for women to take on leadership roles and speak in class, women’s colleges help prepare their students for success after graduation through their focus on gender and women’s issues and feminism – the same way Harvey Mudd prepares it’s students to be successful engineers by focusing on math and science, or how CMC prepares it’s students to be successful leaders through its emphasis on leadership skills. Yes, you can take GWS courses, study feminist theory, have workshops on being a woman in a male-dominated industry and all of that stuff at a co-ed school, but the emphasis is not going to be as strong as it is at a women’s college. This emphasis helps the students to critically examine the patriarchy and figure out ways to be successful outside of male-created limits. We don’t focus blindly on succeeding within a women’s-only community; we study how we’re going to take this success with us after graduation. Researching what we actually do and study at Scripps would’ve helped you to realize this.

    Also, it’s extremely naive to think that women who attend women’s colleges are shielded from sexism and “the real world” for four years – even women at more isolated, traditional women’s colleges. Do you really think they don’t literally leave their campuses for four years straight? And let’s accept that unrealistic extreme for a second – what about summer and winter breaks, and online interaction? Wait, maybe they live in an all-female commune during breaks and only interact with women online. What about the earlier 18 years of their lives?

  69. Rather than attack the age old issue of whether women’s colleges help or hurt women, I want to bring up the perhaps more individual situation that students of the Claremont Colleges find themselves a part of: we are members of a consortium. Now before you write this off as another speech from the girl who “doesn’t even go here” in Mean Girls, hear me out. Cmc prides itself on its ability to model the real world; as Miller puts it, “pragmatism.” It makes sense, therefore, that the attitudes of the school and its student population regarding gender equality are similarly “pragmatic.” A good example of this pragmatism is Cmc’s alcohol policy: if I’m not mistaken, underage drinking is allowed in part because it is assumed that social alcohol consumption is part of the culture that cmc students expect to one day become a part of as professionals. However, what cmc lacks is not a culture in which women can thrive; its wealth of resources attests to that. It does, indeed, teach young women how to flourish within a pre-existing professional setting. What it does not do is teach young women how to overcome obstacles directly related to gender inequality. Being female at cmc, one could argue, is a minor and downplayed part of a student’s identity. At Scripps, however, the opposite is true: the unique character we know as ‘female’ is at the center of every discussion. As a previous commenter so aptly put it, gender is literally a ‘core’ requirement. My point is this: each of these institutions by themselves offer a less than whole experience for female students. In other words, both Miller and Kaikaya are right, but they’re missing the point. The unique structure of the Claremont colleges is this symbiotic relationship that allows women and men from all schools to participate in the rigorous academic depiction of gender at Scripps and then put these skills to use at CMC. It is too limiting to view gender equality in higher education as merely a product of status as coeducational institutions or not. In a modern discourse on gender, we must not only consider the immediate causes and consequences of of gender on long term success, but the overall structure within which gender is discussed. In the case of the Claremonts, this structure is, uniquely, our little habitat we call a consortium.

  70. Just a thought….it might be wise to stop for a moment and notice how quickly we can become tribal, how quickly we can look at something that we belong to as better than something we don’t belong to and how quickly we are inclined to protect the tribe we belong to. The deeper truth is that both institutions are flawed and incredible, just as every one of you students are both flawed and incredible. And, as always, we have much more in common than what sets us apart; the question for the psychologists, the neuroscientists, the philosophers, the anthropologists, the biologists among you is really a question that will accompany you far beyond the campus of the 5Cs: how is it that we are more highly reactive to our differences than what binds us together?

  71. There are some thoughtful comments here that already respond to the ideas of the author well. Womens colleges are a defensive but also proactive mechanism. Women are not isolated from all of society and its gender issues by going to a womens college. We still live and operate in a patriarchal world, much as you might think otherwise: we apply to internships, we view the media, we read articles like this. We do not live in some bubble. What we have been given by our choice of a feminist setting is exposition to a deliberate discourse of feminism and the opportunities of not operating in the ‘boys club.’ These are tools to prepare us better to operate post-graduation in ‘real’ society, and I for one cherish my time outside the boys club.

    I do not think you must go to a womens college to be prepared to be successful in ‘real’ society and to break gender norms. I however hardly think that womens colleges perpetuate the gender gap. I do not mind you your decision to face gender inequity head-on in your own cherished CMC environment and gain practical experience with your approach; it shows you have resolve. Scripps women also have resolve, and we are not being babies nor naive by standing for our values and being proactive.

  72. After reading through the many articles posted about Scripps being a woman’s college, I am writing this in response to all those out there who have been questioning our values and our decision to attend a woman’s college. First and foremost, I would like to respond to Shannon Miller’s recent article about gender gap. I may, or may not be talking on behalf of the all the woman at Scripps college, but I would like to point out that the article did come off as an attack. One thing I would like Miller, and others to understand is that every single college among the 5C’s has a particular niche. Each college nourishes a particular type of student body. When I used to hear people arguing about which of the 5C’s is better, I never used to understand why people are so blinded by the fact that every person is different in what they would like out of their college experience. Every student is at a different phase of their lives. Some may need a competitive environment, where as some prefer less competitive environments. Some may prefer huge social scenes at college, where as some may prefer less of a social scene. Same goes for some preferring a co-ed environment, and some preferring a woman’s college. When I first applied to Scripps, I had a lot of people ask me why I would want to be in an environment that was all woman. Well I felt it was time to speak up. Im sick and tired of people being insensitive to the fact that every person is different in what they would like depending on what kind of background they come from. I am an international student from India who comes from a male dominant society. I applied to Scripps college because now is the phase in my life where I thought I would need the utmost of opportunities to develop leadership skills and confidence. I am not ashamed to say that before I came to Scripps, I honestly had no idea how many opportunities there are on campus to finally break out of the male dominant society that I have experienced. I finally had the courage to take up leadership positions because I was in a community that had a number of opportunities for woman like me. We cannot act as if gender gap does not exist, because it does. I myself have experienced it in many ways. So if your going to talk about why CMC is better than Scripps, talk for yourself. Tell people that CMC was a ‘better fit’ than Scripps because you are at a different stage in your life where you may be ready for such a co-ed environment. But don’t go comparing colleges and making statements about gender gaps. College is a place where we all learn to grow out of certain obstacles. Scripps has allowed me to emerge from one such obstacle. I love being surrounded by woman who can relate to what I have been through and what I am going through now. So Shannon Miller, next time you talk about one college being better than another, think about what kind of people you are talking about. Don’t be blinded by certain statistics. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and everyone prefers different environments. I am proud to be attending and all woman’s college, and whether people agree with me or not, for a person like me, this was one of the best choices I have ever made in my entire life. So to all you Scrippsies out there, be proud for the decision you made! People can say what they want about our college and our choice! Fight for what you want and most of all, keep smiling because we all know that all these statement being made about Scripps can’t take our pride away! 🙂

    Sravya Vajram
    Scripps College Class of 2016

  73. Shannon-

    I attended Scripps for 2 years before deciding to transfer. I agree with your basic point: that a women’s college is nothing like the real world, and separating women from men does not teach female students how to cooperate and lead in a co-ed environment. However I would argue that the CMC experience is completely artifical as well, in its own way. Students at the 5Cs are given special priveleges and individualized attention that the majority of college students could never even imagine. Class sizes are small, food is prepared and paid for at a number of luxury dining halls (all within walking distance), and parties are a free-for-all of drugs and alcohol for students ages 18 to 22, completely uninterrupted by any legitimate police force. How can a student move from the comfort of his or her parents’ home into this manufactured environment and know anything about the “real world”?

    How is the reality manufactured by Scripps college any less real than the one manufactured across the street? Yes, students at Scripps take some all-female courses and live in all-female housing. But as a biology student at Scripps, most of my classes were co-ed at the Joint Sciences Department, CMC or Pitzer. I was surrounded by men at social events and in many of my classes- which is what every female at Scripps experiences (unless she chooses to avoid all classes with men- an exception, not the rule). And yes- I experienced sexism like I had never been exposed to in my life, and never have been exposed to since I left. From outright vandalism with sexist slurs written across the Scripps lawn, to judements and stereotypes about “Scrippsies”.

    When asked which school I attended, I always felt subtly judged when I gave my response. I didn’t understand it when I was attending Scripps, but after reading this article, I feel like I am coming a little closer to understanding my feelings of inferiority to other 5C students. It seems as if the choice to attend a women’s college is perceived as a sign of weakness. It’s as if people believe there must be something wrong with you for trying to escape reality and hide under the security blanket of a school without testosterone. Maybe you think the Scripps student hates men so she avoids them out of anger. Maybe you think she is simply intellectually incapable of competing in a classroom with men. Or she’s just timid and meek- not strong enough to voice her opinion in the presence of a man- not confident and capable like the Claremont Mckenna female.

    But maybe, just MAYBE, the Scripps student is just a girl who thinks gender inequality is so important that it deserves to be the focus of an entire institution. She believes it is a problem that cannot be solved by carrying on as usual in this “real world” of ours that is so tragically flawed. She believes that sharing a classroom with men is not enough to change the deeply rooted attitudes of men AND women that shape our society. She believes we need to put our brilliant minds together, cultivate a few ingenius ideas and some feminine camaraderie, and talk about this issue every week- or even every day- in order to completely and truly transform the reality of our shared world.

  74. protip: probably not a good idea to have a public twitter account visibly linked to your identity that talks about your drunken mishaps

    • Or how you drunkenly “deal with Scrippsies” after a trip to Sushi Cruise. I will no longer be accepting your fake ID, Shannon.

  75. “I wish we could all get along like we did in middle school…I wish we could bake a cake full of rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy….”
    In summary, I wish we could all see our similarities and differences and be respectful of the experience each student at the Claremont Colleges has chosen that will propel them to a prosperous future.

  76. For those who chose CMC because it’s more like the ‘real world,’ do realize that in the real world, not everyone is rich, white, and from a privileged background. If you belong to that category, maybe you’re sheltering yourself by staying in your comfort zone and hiding out in a college full of people from your racial and socioeconomic group.

  77. What is this drivel….a little ashamed to be a CMC alumna right now. I guess the saving grace is that you are a freshman and haven’t quite been educated yet. Just because you prefer one way of learning doesn’t mean that others are lesser than. And the large number of women’s college alumnae in high powered positions seems to contradict your theory that a women’s college is ‘sheltering’ or ‘indulging weakness’ or ‘fantasy.’ I value my CMC education dearly but I would never throw ignorant darts like this at my dear, highly accomplished friends who attended institutions such as Scripps, Smith, Mills and Spellman. I really hope the exposure your article is getting will help you re-think your opinions.

  78. Props to you, Shannon, for having the guts and courage to
    write a controversial article about such a clearly sensitive topic. You
    intelligently and eloquently stated your personal opinions and rationale,
    opinions that you are rightfully entitled to have and to express.

    I believe everyone reading Shannon’s article, Shannon
    included, appreciated all of the responses refuting her claims or thought
    processes regarding all-women colleges. To those of you suggesting she should stay out of the Motley, accusing her of homophobia (???), or writing hurtful/false comments because you feel personally offended by this article, I commend you. It takes a lot of
    intelligence and thought to write derogatory and false comments behind the
    protection of an online alias.

    You may or may not realize the effect that these comments
    have, but they are pitiful. We should encourage thought-provoking and
    controversial articles like Shannon’s…not discourage them via online
    bullying. If you really knew Shannon, you’d know all of these comments have
    been comically false and outrageous—Shannon is after all the number one
    proponent of “woman power” that I know.

    You are brilliant and beautiful. Never lose the courage and
    passion that you exude every single day, that I admire so very much! You are my
    definition of a strong, independent woman who can do whatever she puts her mind
    to and never ever backs down. (More concisely—you are a BAD bitch). Keep on
    writing Shan, you’re pretty damn good at it. We’ve got your back! <3

  79. Hey Shannon,

    Thanks for providing the opportunity for discourse. I’m a Bryn Mawr alum, class of 2011, and I disagree with some of the points in your article.

    “Well, I don’t need to venture across Ninth Street to find independent, intelligent, and motivated women; CMC is full of them…We don’t become leaders by thriving in an atmosphere that artificially eradicates sexism but by fighting to earn our success under the same conditions we’ll face once we graduate.”

    Women’s colleges aren’t about telling other women at co-ed institutions that they are inadequate, so I am sorry to hear that you have received this impression. Ideally, women’s colleges are about providing a space for women to be themselves and explore who they are, whatever that may be.

    Women’s colleges do not “pamper” their graduates by creating an artificially unsexist environment. Rather, they make it a little easier for those who have been relegated a particular voice and position in society to seize the tools to make themselves more successful. If you’ve lived in a sexist environment your entire life, you are more likely to recognize and critique *all* the ways in which sexism impacts you if you devote yourself to studying it. If you’ve never felt comfortable being yourself, never felt respected and valued in certain fields, or never succeeded in a leadership position in a male dominated culture (or even if you have), how much more might you be successful if you learn, live and work in an environment that is dedicated to building you up and working with others like you? The aim is to give you some of that empowerment that male children might experience, given their advantages, from years 0 – 18, so that when you *do* enter the “real world” you are savvy, you are on par or above with other folks, you feel confident, and most importantly that you feel confident succeeding as yourself, in your identity, above all else.

    In K – 12 I remember having experiences where I was clearly not taken seriously because of my gender; that did not happen at Bryn Mawr, where people tended to assume that, on account of my having successfully applied and matriculated, I was intelligent, capable, motivated, interested in learning, and fully invested in becoming a successful and autonomous person in adulthood.

    Last but not least, a shout out to the incredible alum network, who continues that same support and understanding until well past your college years.


  80. […] McKenna (co-ed) College student, Shannon Miller, wrote a response article for the CMCForum called Don’t Like the Gender Gap? Don’t Encourage It.  In it, she directly attacks each of Pfeiffer’s arguments.  Pfeiffer believes that being […]

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