In Depth

35 Years After Coeducation: Where Are We? First Female Student Council President in 1993 A History of Coeducation

In 1973, the year of the merger between Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy, PA boys’ overall happiness increased by 24 percent, with no negative impacts on grades, drug use or relationships, according to the merger study by Fred Peterson. According to A Portrait of a School: Coeducation at Andover, written by instructor in History Kathleen Dalton in 1986, coeducation was proposed in 1967 by Phillips Academy’s Steering Committee. The Steering Committee was a group of faculty members whose studies of the school in 1966 culminated in a comprehensive report introducing the idea of coeducation, according to school archivist Ruth Quattlebaum. Students at Andover at the time of the proposal argued that the real world was coeducational, so education should not be single-sex, according to Portrait of a School. The two schools paved the way to coeducation by gradually introducing integrated activities and courses, according to Dalton’s book., and, in its first year as a coeducational institution, Phillips Academy was composed of approximately 70 percent male and 30 percent female students, according to Portrait of a School. Quattlebaum said Phillips Academy intended to have a 50-50 ratio “since day one.” “The ideal coed school was 50-50. It was an eventual goal. There are a lot of reasons this did not occur [at first]; the school had to convince girls to go to a former boys’ school and had to fix the school facilities [including the] locker rooms in the gym and dorms.” Aside from admitting more girls to the school, it was important for the school to address gender differences in learning styles, overt gender bias, equality issues in the athletic department and male predominance in extracurricular organizations. In a letter to Phillips Academy cluster deans in 1973, Carolyn Johnston, Abbot Academy Dean of Students, addressed characteristic traits of girls and offered advice based on her previous experience with girls. Johnston wrote, “The first thing that is usually said is that girls cry a lot or easily…Many will cry but for any reason.” Concluding the letter, Johnston wrote, “So much of what I have said here applies to boys! It’s really a question of degree, and I believe you will find that girls demand that you give greater cognizance to their feelings which they indeed do share with boys.” According to Portrait of a School, Rabbi Everett Gendler, Jewish Chaplain from 1977 to 1995, sent a letter to Andover’s Coeducation Committee in 1985 regarding gender inequality in The Phillipian and the Philomathean Society that required school-wide attention. The Coeducation Committee, made up of faculty members, pointed out issues with coeducation from 1985 to 1986, according to Quattlebaum.