Career and Family Outcomes for Women Graduates of Single-Sex Versus Coed Colleges

Abstract

This study compares educational, career, and family outcomes by gender composition of college and race/ethnicity of women who graduated in 1993 from three selective U.S. colleges (two single-sex; one coed). It also compares these graduates’ assessments of their college experience. The 60 White women and 60 Women of Color were interviewed as traditional-age seniors and surveyed annually for 16 years. In 2009, 76.7% responded. All groups were happy with their alma maters, although they assessed the advantages and disadvantages somewhat differently. Single-sex graduates more frequently indicated that their college had provided a supportive environment and complained that it provided a limited social life. Coed graduates more frequently indicated that their college provided cultural broadening and positive social relationships. Coed White graduates were in touch with more college friends than single-sex White graduates; there was no significant difference by type of college for Women of Color graduates. Results indicate no significant differences in advanced degrees or career status or STEM field involvement by gender composition of college or race/ethnicity. Nor were any differences in marriage or motherhood variables found. The similarity in outcomes supports the primacy of status of college and is interpreted as positive indication that U.S. colleges have become more hospitable to women.

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Acknowledgment

This longitudinal study was supported by the Faculty Research Committee of Quinnipiac University. Thanks to Melissa Gibbons and Celeste Jorge, for many years of able assistance keeping track of participants, coding, and entering data. Thanks, also, to the participants for sharing their lives.

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Correspondence to Michele Hoffnung.

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Hoffnung, M. Career and Family Outcomes for Women Graduates of Single-Sex Versus Coed Colleges. Sex Roles 65, 680–692 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9914-z

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Keywords

  • Career
  • Coed college
  • Marriage
  • Motherhood
  • Single-sex college
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Title IX