Coeducation in Colleges

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Devon MacGillivray

Ed 300 Research Proposal


Research Question

How did the acceptance of women to Trinity affect the structure of each major? Did certain majors become either male or female-dominated? If so, what reasons might the majors attract one gender versus the other? Why?


Having researched admissions statistics when the class was assigned to analyze Trinity Archives sources, I also looked at some major statistics for a select few years. Proposing to look further into major statistics at Trinity College is relevant to Ed 300 because it is directly related to the coeducation movement, integrating girls and boys in a classroom. When girls were introduced into a classroom setting with boys, there was a different set of standards that needed to be upheld for both sexes. These standards that were set with only made more important in college since there was no longer 24-hour supervision that was once provided by parents. As an Economics and American Studies double major, with a concentration in gender and identity, most of my collegiate career has been spent studying women’s roles in America and the separation between men and women, as well as personally experiencing what studying in the male-dominated field of economics is like. From the little research I have done using Trinity data, I know that Economics is one of the largest fields of study offered at the college, therefore I think it is important to address when the field started to grow for both men and women. To address the questions I have proposed, it will be necessary to see which majors/fields are more popular among men and women, and if these fields may be “stereotypical,” which in turn causes them to be unattractive to one sex or the other. Finally, I think it will also be important to address when certain majors were introduced, specifically if some of the female-dominated majors slowly became popular to women, or were introduced after women began to enroll at the college because they were more appealing.

Research Strategy

My original search strategy included searching variations of “popularity of college majors men women” on Google, which is how I found most of the sources listed below. I made an appointment to meet with a librarian next week to receive some help searching Trinity data, and potentially accessing what I had looked at for the Trinity archives assignment, since the true focus of my paper is Trinity College. After my original search I did face a lot of trouble finding relative sources from the Trinity Online Resources website, so hopefully after I meet with a librarian, and/or meet with you, I will have a firmer grasp on how I should handle researching my proposed questions. I also plan on contacting some professors in the male-dominated fields, from both Trinity and all-female schools to try and get some interviews/information about their thoughts on co-education in the classroom and how it might deter either male or female students from certain subjects.


Finkel, Rachel. “Interdisciplinary Majors Gaining Popularity in College.” The Daily Pennsylvanian. 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <>.

Gordreau, Jenna. “Most Popular College Majors for Women.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 10 Aug. 2010. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. <>.

Held, Elizabeth. “Are Single-sex Colleges Still Relevant? | USA TODAY College.”College. USA Today, 7 Oct. 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <>.

Lewin, Tamar. “At Colleges, Women Are Leaving Men in the Dust.” Education. The New York Times, 9 July 2006. Web. <>.

Marklein, Mary Beth. “Higher Education Stats Stir New Concerns in USA.” USA Today. Gannett, 6 Sept. 2006. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <>.

Rampell, Catherine. “College Majors That Put Women on Equal Footing With Men.”Economix Blog. The New York Times, 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <>.

“Top 10 College Majors.” Test Prep: GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, SAT, ACT, and More. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <>.

One thought on “Coeducation in Colleges”

  1. Devon, you’ve identified an interesting research question for this writing assignment. I wish to encourage you to maintain your primary focus on Trinity, but broaden the question slightly to allow you to bring in more historical interpretation. For example, consider revising your RQ into something like: “How and why did the co-education of women affect the gender demographics of student majors at Trinity and similar institutions?” Adding “how and why” allows you to move beyond description to analyzing the process more deeply, and ending with “Trinity and similar institutions” enables you to read more broadly to determine if there were general patterns beyond just our particular school.

    You need to do more focused searching for sources beyond Google, since all of your bibliography items are newspaper articles, and none appear to have an historical focus. Start with WorldCat and run a subject search for “Coeducation–United States–History” and you will find relevant books such as Leslie Miller-Bernal and Susan Poulson, Going coed : women’s experiences in formerly men’s colleges and universities, 1950-2000 (Vanderbilt Univ Press, 2004). Run a similar search in the America: History & Life database (which specializes in historical articles).

    Regarding Trinity, contact the Office of Institutional Research to ask for spreadsheet data on majors by gender, going back as far as 1970s if possible.

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