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Coeducation is the integrated education of men and women. Before coeducation became predominant, most important institutions of higher education restricted their enrollment to men. Women were educated in all-female schools, if at all.
Coeducation in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, most schools are coeducational, others are boys-only and girls-only. Many previously single-sex schools have begun to accept both sexes in the past few decades, for example Clifton College began to accept girls in 1987.
Coeducation in the United States
The first coeducational institution of higher education in the United States was Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. The Univeristy of Iowa became the first public or state university in the United States to admit women, and for much of the next century, public universities, and land grant universities in particular, would lead the way in higher education coeducation. The agitation for coeducation by early feminists grew through the American Civil War era, and by 1872 there were 97 American universities admitting women. Some institutions refused to integrate fully, but were willing to educate women in closely associated schools—a variation on the later "separate but equal" standard of racially segregated schools followed in some parts of the US. Examples of this parallelism include(d) Radcliffe College at Harvard University in Massachusetts and Barnard College at Columbia University in New York. A variety of sex-segregated women's institutions were founded, most notably the prestigious Seven Sisters. Of the seven, one is now fully coeducational (Vassar College), while five others are not (e.g. Wellesley College, Smith College, Mt. Holyoke College, Bryn Mawr College, and Barnard College). In 1999, Radcliffe College was dissolved and nominal sex separation of undergraduates at Harvard ceased. All women undergraduates at Harvard University now receive diplomas from Harvard College. Other notable women's colleges that have become coeducational include Skidmore College and Sarah Lawrence College in New York state, Goucher College in Maryland, Connecticut College, and Stephens College in Missouri.
It should be noted that many or most "common schools"—the neighborhood, village and county schools that educated most Americans through the end of the 19th century—were coeducational from the beginning, in part because small school districts could not fund separate educational facilities for girls and boys.
Remarkably, after a little more than than a century in the mainstream higher education system of the United States, American women now earn the majority of bachelor's degrees and account for 60% of the enrolled undergraduate population. However, men still earn a majority of undergraduate degrees that lead to higher paying jobs (e.g. engineering) and a majority of graduate and professional degrees (e.g. PhDs and MDs).
U.S. institutions of higher education coeducational from establishment
- Oberlin College (1833)
- Alfred University (1836)
- Hillsdale College (1844)
- Olivet College (1844)
- Antioch College (1853)
- University of Iowa (1856)
- Cornell University (1865, first woman enrolled 1870, first woman graduate 1873)
- Boston University (1869)
- Swarthmore College (1870)
- Stanford University (1891)
- University of Chicago (1892)
- Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1893)
- Brandeis University (1948)
Years U.S. educational institutions became coeducational
- Schools that were previously all-female are listed in italics.
Coeducation in Canada
Years Canadian educational institutions became coeducational
Coeducation in China
The first coeducational institution of higher learnings in China was the Nanjing Higher Normal Institute. It later renamed National Southeastern University in 1921, National Central University in 1928 and Nanjing University in 1949. For thousands of years in China education, especially higher education, was the privilege of men. In the 1910s women's universities were established such as Ginling Women's University, Peking Girl's Higher Normal School , but coeducation was still prohibited. Tao Xingzhi , the Chinese advocator of coeducation, proposed The Audit Law for Women Students (《規定女子旁聽法案》) on the meeting of Nanjing Higher Normal Institute hold on December 7th, 1919. He also proposed the university to recruit girl students. They were supported by the president Guo Bingwen, academic director Liu Boming and such famous professors Lu Zhiwei , Yang Xingfo , and were opposed by many famous men of the time. Finally, the meeting passed the law and decided to recruit women students next year. Nanjing Higher Normal Institute (now Nanjing University) enrolled the earliest 8 coeducational Chinese women students in 1920. In the same year Peking University also began to allow women audit students. Since then, more and more Chinese university became coeducational. The most famous girl students of Nanjing University or of Chinese universities may be Chien-Shiung Wu.
In mainland China, there were many girl's schools and several women's colleges during the ROC. After 1949 since the CCP controlled mainland China, almost all schools and universities became coeducational in the PRC. In recent years new girl schools and women colleges again emerged.
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