By Barbara J. Bank, Harriet M. Yelon
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Additional resources for Contradictions in Women's Education: Traditionalism, Careerism, and Community at a Single-Sex College
At CWC, residential isolation was high and the college culture put more stress on gender equality and autonomy values than did the entering students. The dominant views within the college culture concerning the other norms and values we studied were either mixed (as in the cases of propriety norms, self-oriented norms, and achievement values) or very similar to those of the entering students (as in the cases of traditional family norms and values). As our framework predicted, students who entered CWC in the fall of 1991 increased their endorsements of gender equality norms and autonomy values, but they retained, rather than changed, the norms and values that already matched those of the college culture, as well as the norms and values about which there was disagreement between existing students and faculty.
It was this interpretation that led me to the questionable assumption that higher scores on our Achievement Values scale would indicate a more emancipatory, less traditional orientation. I now see this assumption as questionable for three reasons. First, sorority women who scored higher than independents on the Achievement Values scale also scored higher on Traditional Family Values. Second, as noted earlier, sorority women valued their membership status more, on average, than independent Traditionalism and Emancipation: Sororities at CWC 43 women valued being independents.
For these “below average” students who later graduated from CWC, there was a large, significant increase in the average level of endorsement of Gender Equality Norms. In contrast, students whose entry-level endorsement of Gender Equality Norms was above the average level of endorsement of the existing students did not change their average level of endorsement between entry to CWC and graduation. These findings are consistent with the conclusion that the norms of Gender Equality held by students who entered in 1991 and remained to graduate was affected by the existing culture of CWC.