Curve Ball-single gender education

Patricia Schwarz patricia at theory.caltech.edu
Sat Jan 3 19:40:37 EST 1998


Mary Ann Sesma wrote:
> 
> I may be throwing a curve ball into these overlapping threads-- AP, Groups,
> etc,  but  one of the most remarkable educational experiences that I ever
> had was at a small Catholic women's college--Immaculate Heart College in
> Los Angeles.    The sisters were all  Ph.D's in their various subject
> fields.  These ladies did not hold back.  

<stuff snipped>

Speaking of nuns and education:

I saw a bar chart comparing by country the percentage of physics
PhD's awarded to women, and all the Protestant countries were
crammed together in the under 10% region, the Catholic countries
filled out the middle of the chart in the 15-35% region, and anything
above in the 40-50% range was either secularly Islamic (Turkey) or
formerly Communist (Hungary and Russia).

That was in Scientific American back in 1991 I think. Catholic
countries are better at producing women physicists than are
Protestant countries. That is noticeable in my field in fact,
visibly.

In Londa Schiebinger's "The Mind Has No Sex?" she talks about
the effect that the Reformation had on the nice network of science
and math teaching convents that had established themselves by
that time. There were a lot of popular science and math books
written by nuns back then believe it or not. 

The Reformation set back the education of girls and women quite a 
bit, to the extent that schools for girls were considered Papacy and
had to be closed down. It took a while for the Prods to get to
the level of acceptance of female education that the Catholics had
attained before them. (And they called it the "Enlightenment" ha! )

I know people think "Gallileo" when they think of science in
relation to Catholicism, but nuns have done a LOT to further the
education of women throughout history.

-patricia



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