Mixed-sex education

Mixed-sex education

Mixed-sex education, also known as coeducation or co-education, is the integrated education of male and female persons in the same institution. It is the opposite of single-sex education. Most older institutions of higher education were reserved for the male sex and since then have changed their policies to become coeducational.



The first mixed-sex institution of higher learning in China was the Nanjing Higher Normal School, which was renamed National Central University and Nanjing University. For thousands of years in China, public schools, especially public higher learning schools, were for men. Generally only schools established by zongzu (宗族, gens) were for both male and female students. Some schools such as Li Zhi's school in Ming Dynasty and Yuan Mei's school in Qing Dynasty enrolled both male and female students. In the 1910s women's universities were established such as Ginling Women's University and Peking Girls' Higher Normal School, but there were no coeducation in higher learning schools.

Tao Xingzhi, the Chinese advocator of mixed-sex education, proposed The Audit Law for Women Students (規定女子旁聽法案) at the meeting of Nanjing Higher Normal School held on December 7, 1919. He also proposed that the university recruit female students. The idea was supported by the president Guo Bingwen, academic director Liu Boming, and such famous professors as Lu Zhiwei and Yang Xingfo, but opposed by many famous men of the time. The meeting passed the law and decided to recruit women students next year. Nanjing Higher Normal School enrolled eight Chinese women students in 1920. In the same year Peking University also began to allow women students to audit classes. One of the most notable female students of that time was Jianxiong Wu.

In 1949, the People's Republic of China was founded. The government of PRC has provided more equal opportunities for education since then,[citation needed] and all schools and universities have become mixed-sex. In recent years, however, many female and/or single-sex schools have again emerged for special vocational training needs but equal rights for education still apply to all citizens.

In China Muslim Hui and Muslim Salars are against coeducation, due to Islam, Uyghurs are the only Muslims in China that do not mind coeducation and practice it.[1]


Admission to the Sorbonne was opened to girls in 1860.[2] The baccalaureat became gender-blind in 1924, giving equal chances to all girls in applying to any universities. Mixed-sex education became mandatory for primary schools in 1957 and for all universities in 1975.[3]

Hong Kong

St. Paul's Co-educational College was the first mixed-sex secondary school in Hong Kong. It was founded in 1915 as St. Paul's Girls' College. At the end of World War II it was temporarily merged with St. Paul's College, which is a boys' school. When classes at the campus of St. Paul's College were resumed, it continued to be mixed, and changed to its present name.



In the United Kingdom the official term is mixed,[4] and today most schools are mixed. A number of Quaker co-educational boarding schools were established before the 19th century. In England the first non-Quaker public mixed-sex boarding school was Bedales School, founded in 1893 by John Haden Badley and becoming mixed in 1898. The Scottish Dollar Academy claims to be the first mixed-sex boarding school in the UK (in 1818). Many previously single-sex schools have begun to accept both sexes in the past few decades; for example, Clifton College began to accept women in 1987.

Higher education institutions

The first United Kingdom university to allow ladies to enter on equal terms with gentlemen, and hence be admitted to academic degrees, was the University of London in 1878, with degrees being conferred upon the United Kingdom's first four female graduates in 1880.[5] The first institution engaged in educating students, given the University of London's then role was an examining authority, to become fully co-educational was University College London in 1878.[6] The University of Cambridge allowed women to take its examinations in 1881 but refused to confer degrees upon women until 1948. The University of Oxford allowed women to take its examinations in 1884 but refused to admit female graduands to the degrees if they passed the said oral examinations until 1920.[6]

Given their dual role as both boarding house and educational establishment, individual colleges at Oxford and Cambridge remained segregated for much longer periods. The first Oxford college to house both men and women was the graduate-only Nuffield College in 1937, with the first five undergraduate colleges (including St Catherine's) becoming mixed in 1974. The first mixed Cambridge college was the graduate-only Darwin from its foundation in 1964. Churchill, Clare and King's colleges of Cambridge were the first previously all-male colleges to admit female undergraduates in 1972. Magdalene was the last all-male college to become mixed in 1988.[7]

The last single-sex college in Oxford, St Hilda's, went mixed from Michaelmas term 2008; however Permanent Private Halls exist which are open only to men. Three colleges remain single sex at Cambridge: Murray Edwards (New Hall), Newnham and Lucy Cavendish.


The first mixed-sex institute of higher education in the United States was Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, which was established in 1833. Mixed-sex classes were admitted to the preparatory department at Oberlin in 1833 and the college department in 1837.[8][9] The first four women to receive bachelor's degrees in the United States earned them at Oberlin in 1841. Later, in 1862, the first black woman to receive a bachelor's degree (Mary Jane Patterson) also earned it from Oberlin College. Beginning in 1844, Hillsdale College became the second college to admit mixed-sex classes to four-year degree programs.[10]

The University of Iowa became the first coeducational public or state university in the United States in 1855,[11] and for much of the next century, public universities, and land grant universities in particular, would lead the way in mixed-sex higher education. There were also many private coeducational universities founded in the 19th century, especially west of the Mississippi River. East of the Mississippi, Cornell University admitted its first female student in 1870.[12]

Around the same time, single-sex women's colleges were also appearing. According to Irene Harwarth, Mindi Maline, and Elizabeth DeBra: "women's colleges were founded during the mid- and late-19th century in response to a need for advanced education for women at a time when they were not admitted to most institutions of higher education."[13] Notable examples include the prestigious Seven Sisters, of which Vassar College is now coeducational and Radcliffe College has merged with Harvard University. Other notable women's colleges that have become coeducational include Wheaton College in Massachusetts, Ohio Wesleyan Female College in Ohio, Skidmore College, Wells College, and Sarah Lawrence College in New York state, Goucher College in Maryland, and Connecticut College.

Primary and secondary schools

Several early primary and secondary schools in the United States were single-sex. One example is Collegiate School, a boys' school operating in New York by 1638 (at the latest).

Nonetheless, mixed-sex education existed at these levels in the U.S. long before it extended to colleges. For example, in 1787, the predecessor to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, opened as a mixed-sex secondary school.[14][15] Its first enrollment class consisted of 78 male and 36 female students. Among the latter was Rebecca Gratz, the first Jewish female college student in the United States.[citation needed] However, the school soon began having financial problems and it reopened as an all-male institution. Westford Academy in Westford, Massachusetts has operated as mixed-sex secondary school since its founding in 1792.[16]

"Coed" as slang

In American and Canadian colloquial language, "coed" (short for "coeducational student") is also an informal term that refers to institutions with men and women. This usage reflects the historical process by which it was often female pupils who were admitted to schools originally reserved for boys or for male pupils who were admitted to schools historically reserved for women, and thus it was they who were identified with its becoming "coeducational". The word is also often used to describe a situation in which both sexes are integrated in any form (e.g., "The team is coed").

In northern American culture, the term "coed" is also widely used as a generic slang term to describe a college female in particular, often in tandem with them being fetishized in some way; for instance, a phrase like "sexy coeds" would normally be assumed to refer to attractive college-aged women specifically.

See also


  1. ^ Ruth Hayhoe (1996). China's universities, 1895-1995: a century of cultural conflict. Taylor & Francis. p. 202. ISBN 0815318596. http://books.google.com/books?id=5bsZxAhzxk0C&pg=PA211&dq=sala+hui&hl=en&ei=TBXDTLKTE8P6lwe-g_kF&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CFMQ6AEwCDgU#v=snippet&q=sala%20hui%20muslim%20girls%20coeducation%20uighur%20no%20problem%20frowned&f=false. Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  2. ^ La mixité dans l'éducation: enjeux passés et présents
  3. ^ http://ettajdid.org/spip.php?article138
  4. ^ Statutory Instrument 2007 No. 2324 The Education (School Performance Information) (England) Regulations 2007 , Schedule 6, regulation 11, clause 5(b).
  5. ^ pages XVII to XVIII of The University of London and the World of Learning, 1836-1986 By Francis Michael Longstreth Thompson Contributor Francis Michael Longstreth Thompson Published by Continuum International Publishing Group, 1990 ISBN 9781852850326
  6. ^ a b ibidem
  7. ^ "Obituary - Professor Sir Bernard Williams". The Guardian. 2003-06-13. http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,976477,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  8. ^ "One Hundred Years Toward Suffrage". http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/naw/nawstime.html. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  9. ^ Jones, Christine. "Indiana University: The Transition to Coeduation". http://www.indiana.edu/~iuspa/journal/editions/2002/Jones.pdf. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  10. ^ "Hillsdale College - History & Misson". http://www.hillsdale.edu/about/history.asp. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  11. ^ May, A.J., University of Rochester History, http://www.lib.rochester.edu/index.cfm?PAGE=2319 
  12. ^ "Our History". http://www.gradschool.cornell.edu/index.php?p=36. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  13. ^ http://www.ed.gov/offices/OERI/PLLI/webreprt.html
  14. ^ "Milestones Achieved by the Women of F&M". http://www.fandm.edu/x22560. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  15. ^ "F&M: 40 Years of Coeducation". http://www.fandm.edu/40yearsofcoed. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  16. ^ Simmons, Carrie (2007-09-07). "History of Westford Academy". Westford Eagle. http://www.wickedlocal.com/westford/archive/x2136193253. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 

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