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Quizzical Quiz

Megan O'Neil | Thursday, November 3, 2005

In an apparent attempt to help high school-aged girls make a great choice in a higher educational institution, CosmoGirl! has posted a College Guide on its Web site for the past several weeks.

Included in the fragments of advice is mention of women’s colleges accompanied by a picture of a group of sweet-looking girls gathered in a cozy room.

“What do Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Cathie Black (the head of CosmoGIRL! and a bunch of other magazines!) have in common?” the site asks enthusiastically. “They went to an all-women’s college! Find out if you should, too.”

It then invites visitors to the site to click on a link to a four-question quiz to determine if indeed you should consider a women’s college.

“Does having boys in your classes keep you from doing your best work?” it begins. “Do you think that your school’s clubs don’t provide enough opportunities for girls like you?” it continues. “At college, are you willing to limit your chances of meeting guys mainly to off-campus activities?” It then wraps up with my personal favorite – “Are you are lesbian? If not, are you comfortable around lesbians?”

It is no wonder the Saint Mary’s admissions office struggles to construct a class of 400 each year. One careless person such as Marty Nemko, the author of this quiz, can erase the work of an office full of diligent recruiters with four brief questions.

He might as well have tagged it “Want to hear some reasons not to attend a women’s college?” Or maybe “Want to affirm your decision not to apply to a women’s college?” Or even “Some good insults for women’s colleges students and alumnae.”

Really, considering Nemko is a “College and Career Counselor” one would think he would have a little more educated perspective on women’s colleges and the experiences they offer their students.

The contradictions are obvious. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Madeleine Albright, two of the most powerful and accomplished women in American history, seemed to have suffered much from their limited chances to meet guys. And neither of them are lesbians as far as I know.

And Cathie Black, what’s her excuse? Apparently she graduated from such an institution. But perhaps she was too busy choosing the next ‘hunk of the month’ to notice what low quality product was running under her magazine’s name.

You might wonder why I care what some stupid quiz, squeezed between Neutrogena face wash ads and printed by a publication I outgrew nearly a decade ago, has to say about all-women’s education.

I care because it perpetuates stereotypes – stereotypes I heard from my high school classmates when I selected Saint Mary’s three years ago. Stereotypes I continue to hear, unfortunately, from students from other institutions today.