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Gender segregation in the classroom

Julia A. Keith Julia.A.Keith at DARTMOUTH.EDU
Fri May 26 17:39:48 EST 1995

It strikes me that the solution to the gender problem at the jr high level and
beyond is not to seggregate the sexes, but to somehow change the culture so
that "smart" girls are still attractive.  I have a jr high age daughter who
recently changed her career goals from veterinarian to pop rock star for
reasons of teenage perception of what's desireable in the eyes of the opposite
sex.  I went to high school in the 70s, and back then boys could be smart and
"cool", but not girls.  I was told by my high school boyfriend that he felt it
was unfeminine that I had the best grade in physics.  Needless to say, I became
extremely self conscious about even answering questions in class. I don't think
the culture here in America has changed much since then on this regard-women 
who are good in English are commended, those that are good in science are an
oddity of some kind.  There is nothing worse than being an oddity in jr high
(Personally, I think there's nothing worse than jr high, but that's a cultural
phenomenon harder to change).

Solution? A prominent woman developmental geneticist appeared in a recent issue
of Glamour magazine and as much as we got yucks out of it in the lab, I think
it's a step in the right direction.  Why can't one be "glamorous" AND smart? 
We need to teach our daughters that smart is not a bad word.  Unfortunately,
the current political climate in America is almost anti-intellectual and does
little to reinforce this.

Doing my best not to raise Madonna,
Julie Keith

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