There have been countless studies showing the pros of girls attending single sex schools but should women be attending single sex business schools in order to get ahead? According to Cathy E. Minehan, dean of the all-female Simmons College School of Management, the answer is yes.
According to a recent University of Essex study, girls do significantly better in single-sex classes in high school but that is when minds are being melded and young girls are learning who they are. Single-sex education is promoted because it helps boost the confidence of young women so that when they get to college and beyond they are already sure of themselves. But according to Minehan, women still need to be seperate even at the higher education level so they can thrive in the male-dominated business world. In a coed environment, “male leadership roles remain unchallenged, and women are left with ‘play the game our way, or go home,’” she says.
Minehan, a former chief of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston who worked for nearly 40 years at central bank branches in Boston and New York, told The Wall Street Journal:
“[At Simmons, students] can develop tools to navigate better in the business world because they understand the subtleties of a male-dominated culture in a way that they might not understand in classrooms that are dominated by men.
An example: negotiations. Women don’t negotiate the same way that men do. We teach classic negotiation theory, classic negotiation practice, but we also teach about the situation women will find in [the outside world] and then how to deal with it.”
She raises an interesting point with this argument. Though women have major progress in the last few years in terms of business school attendance, the numbers are still not where they should be. Business schools are trying to actively recruit women by holding special women-only events but once they are enrolled they will be in a co-ed classroom. Now as a graduate of an all-girls high school, I will say I think certain things were instilled in me that gave me certain advantages over my peers that attended co-ed schools. When I arrived at college I was confident in my classes and never felt afraid of competing with the boys. But, at the same time, I think it was extremely necessary for me to go be in a co-ed environment after being in an all-girls school for years. Because men and women working together is more like the real world and I needed to be in that environment to apply what I had learned. My worry is with women earning their MBA or business skills in all-female environment, are they performing better and being less risk averse because they felt more comfortable being surrounded by other women? If that confidence can carry over into the real world then great but the real world is full of men, especially in business. It is a question of being able to retain the skills they learned in this isolated pod.