“You can’t be what you don’t see,” said Marian Wright Edelman, civil rights activist and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. This quote speaks volumes to a question I often get asked as president of Barnard College, an institution devoted to educating and empowering young women: “Are women-only institutions the only way to go?”
My answer may surprise you, because it’s no. But as a cognitive scientist who has dedicated her research to exploring how to ensure the success of women and girls, I tell people that there are some special ingredients that you find in women-focused spaces that do make a difference — ingredients that can be exported to coed environments but usually, and unfortunately, are not.
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