Marlborough students often laugh about their isolation from and social awkwardness around boys, but all jokes aside, it is true that our all-girls setting can lead to some issues with the opposite sex. I think my fellow violets and I definitely thrive in this setting, and although a study by the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies confirmed that girls who receive a same-sex education demonstrate greater self-confidence than girls who attend coeducational schools, we don’t always apply our confidence and self-respect outside of our ever graceful halls of learning.
The main reason that girls choose an all-girls environment like Marlborough is to get more out of their classes by collaborating with similar learners and taking part in a welcoming community. I value the warmth of Marlborough to no end, but my prosperity there can cause disconnection elsewhere. Having complete academic isolation from boys can be detrimental by inhibiting the formation of a bond of mutual respect that comes with debating academia. It is beneficial to girls to learn with other girls, but the School should still implement opportunities to engage intellectually with boys.
When girls do have contact with the opposite sex, it is often at parties alongside a hookup culture, which leads teenage boys to expect a certain level of promiscuity in girls. If this is the only exposure some girls have to boys, they might gather that physicality is all they are valued for in the eyes of their male peers. This confined experience of boys and what they expect disrupts any possibility of platonic friendships between us and them. Girls might prescribe to this expected behavior despite their reticence because they don’t see another way to relate to the opposite sex.
Girls need to be aware of the context in which they see boys and of the way they see themselves around boys. More co-ed intellectual opportunities will prove to girls that they are smart and capable alongside and separated from boys. Incorporating intellectual conversation into socialization can help to create a mutual respect, but Marlborough needs to further assist us by discussing how to apply the confidence we gain to different situations. Providing more opportunities like tutoring 8th graders with Loyola boys for their High School Placement Test Preparation Project would also help our students form mutual intellectual respect.
The reason we came to Marlborough was to become strong women, and while the school helps us achieve this within this haven of estrogen, some co-educational opportunities will reinforce our goal.