How Women’s Colleges Have Changed Over the Past 40 Years

saxA new study by Linda Sax, a professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, offers an analysis of students who have attended women’s colleges over the past 40 years. Over the period, the number of women’s colleges in the United States has dropped from more than 230 to less than 50. Now, less than one percent of women who are enrolled in higher education attend a single-sex institution.

One of the major changes over the 40 years is a significant rise in diversity at women’s colleges. In the 1970s, the student bodies at these colleges were predominantly White. And the students tended to come from families whose income and wealth was well above the average. Now, these colleges have a great deal of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity.

Professor Sax is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Sax is the author of The Gender Gap in College: Maximizing the Developmental Potential of Women and Men (Jossey-Bass, 2008).

The study, Who Attends a Women’s College? Identifying Unique Characteristics and Patterns of Change, 1971-2011, can be downloaded by clicking here.

Filed Under: Research/StudyWomen's Colleges


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