Women's College Dean Says Same-Sex Education Is Better for Businesswomen

65-year-old Cathy E. Minehan, dean of the all-women Simmons College School of Management, a small Boston college which launched the first MBA program designed for women in 1975, says that women have a better chance of succeeding professionally without men around.

In a coed academic environment, "male leadership roles remain unchallenged, and women are left with 'play the game our way, or go home,'" she told the Wall Street Journal.

Before taking over Simmons last summer, Minehan was the chief of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and spent almost 40 years working in banking in Boston and New York. She said she chose the dean position over retiring because she'd "always had this interest in what you can do, systemically, to make it easier for women to be successful in business."

Minehan is clearly (and rightfully) proud of what Simmons' women have accomplished — "If Harvard wants a case about a woman leader, they usually are looking at stuff we've developed," she said — but her views on same-sex education seem a bit antiquated. "Why is it better to address those systemic issues in an all-women environment when so much of the business world is dominated by men?" the WSJ asked her. "How is that good training for real life?" Here's her response:

Just think about mission-driven education in general-for example, historically black colleges. The schools provide not only a first-class education, but also an environment and culture in which it's easier to talk about some subjects.

[At Simmons, students] can develop tools to navigate better in the business world because they understand the subtleties of a male-dominated culture in a way that they might not understand in classrooms that are dominated by men.

An example: negotiations. Women don't negotiate the same way that men do. We teach classic negotiation theory, classic negotiation practice, but we also teach about the situation women will find in [the outside world] and then how to deal with it.

When (shockingly) asked about Marissa Meyer, Minehan said the whole being pregnant while also CEO thing wasn't such a big deal. "If she's smart enough to run Yahoo, which the board seems to think she is, she's smart enough to figure this out," she said.

We've written at length about how Meyer's refusal to talk about her gender can be frustrating, but the idea that only women should have to learn about "the subtleties of a male-dominated culture" in an academic setting is disheartening in a different way. It's doubtful that "gender-blind" Meyer would ever step foot on Simmons' campus.

Why an All-Female School May Be Best Training Ground [WSJ]

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