All Together Education

source: Julia Vann for

source: Julia Vann for

Growing up, I did not speak up often in class, especially my science or math classes. I knew I did not feel comfortable with the material, so I did not want to embarrass myself if I spoke up and got something wrong. I remember struggling with math and science, and thinking it was normal for most girls to not be at the top of their class in those subjects. I always felt positively reinforced in English class learning to analyze literature and understanding grammar. Now looking back, I wonder if I would have felt more comfortable if I were in a learning environment that only had other girls. Would I have been more or less likely to speak up? Would other girls have the same problems in school as me that were also scared to speak up? Were there girls who were good at math and science who could help me?

So, what is single-sex education?

In her book, Gendered LivesJulia T. Wood explains single-sex educational programs as a campus or classroom where female and male students are separated to be taught more specifically to learning styles and development. The idea behind single-sex education is intriguing, as supporters believe this tactic can help stamp out the inequities in education. Female students may be able to more closely focus on STEM fields and get the teaching techniques and encouragement they need to succeed in those fields. Male students would, on the other hand, be given a chance to pursue HEAL fields, and teachers may be able to help young boys, who generally are behind in reading compared to young girls, develop their reading skills. However, Dr. Janet Hyde, professor of psychology and women’s studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison, states that there is no real scientific evidence to support these claims. In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union has been investigating these programs and believe that they promote gender stereotypes (Taylor, 2014).

Gender Norms and Stereotypes


Gender Stereotypes in Action. source:

Many critics disagree with single-sex education stating that eventually males and females will have to interact, and it is important to know how to do so before entering the real world. The separate-but-equal standpoint has historically not been the best way to achieve the greatest outcomes. Most critics believe that in order to truly stamp out the inequities in the education system, we must focus on giving both males and
females, of all races, religions, and other demographics the same opportunities and support within the same school.

Motoko Rich wrote an article for the NY Times, describing a single-sex education program in Florida, beginning his article by describing the classroom.

In one third-grade classroom, the walls are bordered by cheetah and zebra prints, bright pink caddies hold pencils and glue sticks, and a poster at the front lists rules, including “Act pretty at all times!”

Next door, cutouts of racecars and pictures of football players line the walls, and a banner behind the teacher’s desk reads “Coaches Corner.”

The students in the first class: girls. Next door: boys.

Rich goes on to describe the teaching styles for both classrooms, saying the teacher incorporates competition for the boys and ensures there are extra sweaters in the class for the girls, in case they get cold and are distracted by it. One male student (8 years old) even says he would rather learn in a girl-free environment, because girls are “bossy.”

These are only a few of the negative stereotypes being reinforced by this particular single-sex education program, and I am sure they are being reinforced at others.

Girl Power?

The video below discusses how studies done by the ACLU, the US Department for Education, and the American Psychological Association shows that single-sex educational programs does not necessarily help students learn better and it actually reinforces sexism and gender stereotypes. Watch for yourself!

Source: Youtube user DNews

Title IX

Title IX extends beyond equal opportunities for women’s athletics. It is a law that requires all federally funded schools to provide equal opportunities in every type of educational program. Athletics is only one of ten key areas Title IX addresses. These areas are: Access to Higher Education, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environment, Math and Science, Sexual Harassment, Standardized Testing and Technology. For example, if a student is sexually harassed, they may report it to the Title IX office at their university, which would work diligently to address that harassment and to prevent it from happening again or to others.

Title IX helps create equality/ source:

Title IX helps create equality/ source:

In 2002, Mary Beth Markleinfrom USA Today, asked 3 female college presidents about the impacts of Title IX after 30 years of the law’s presence. Judith Rodin, President of University of Pennsylvania, states, “American society is inexorably moving toward more gender balance, to the mutual benefit of both sexes. The growing presence of women in the professions, and the ascent of women into positions of influence, is transforming our society in ways subtle and dramatic.” Judith was the first female to serve as president of the university, starting in 1994.

Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, expresses just how far we have come since Title IX was first enacted. She believes that in order to truly fight for equality in education, we as a society should keep progressing through Title IX. She says,

The answer is to build on the successes of Title IX by creating affirmative opportunity — that is, programs and policies that will encourage women and minorities to pursue advanced degrees in mathematics, science, engineering, and technology. At Rensselaer, we offer interactive and hands-on learning in our studio courses that spark the interest and nurture the enthusiasm of all our students, particularly women. Our retention rates for women in engineering and the sciences are above the national average.
Title IX continues to expand horizons for women. But we must persist in encouraging women and underrepresented minorities in these fields if we are to ensure our nation’s competitive edge in the global marketplace.

To see all three president’s statements in full, click here.

One step forward, two steps back.

Up until the late 19th century, schools were segregated by sex. Are we sure that turning about 100 years of progress around back to single-sex education as the predominant form or equal form of education is the best idea? Or can the existing gender stereotyping and sexism be what pushes Title IX to the next level to attempt to make another positive change in our society?

After researching this type of education, I began to wonder what it would have been like for me to attend a school like that. It sounded interesting at first and there may be some advantages to a single-sex classroom. However, I believe moving forward is always best.

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Think like a man

Have you ever felt it was difficult to tell someone how you feel? Do you feel uncomfortable crying when you are sad or frustrated? Personally, I am not always able to talk about how I feel, although many stereotypes involve women as loving to express their emotions. However, many men and boys find it even more difficult to talk about their feelings. Many males have said that they avoid discussing their emotions, because it makes them feel uncomfortable and too vulnerable. When talking to a friend of mine, Brandon, he explained that he didn’t grow up learning how to talk about his feelings because his father never talked about his either. He expressed that, “that kind of conversation usually got me a stern look and a prompt conversation change” from his father. So why do men often feel uncomfortable showing emotions?

Society’s Affects

Learning to put into words how you feel or what you are thinking is imperative to effective communication. We, as a society, often focus now on ways that women and girls are confined by gender norms, but it is important to see and understand how men and boys can be harmed by similar gender norms. Tara Culp-Ressler discusses how forcing gender norms on children can harm them, discussing points made by Dr. Pereira, the deputy director for the University of Warwick’s Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, saying in many cases they are putting pressure on themselves to fit in that it can cause anxiety and other health issues. For boys in particular, Dr. Pereira says that they are, “struggling with anxiety about proving themselves and suppressing their feelings, all while lacking a strong emotional support system.”

When discussing gender norms, Paul Kivel discusses a “gender box,” or “Act-Like-a-Man” box in his essay “Act Like a Man.” A gender box is a set of expectations put in place on how a “real man” should act. For example, they are told not to cry when they are upset or hurt, they are told to fight back and not walk away, and they are told to appear tough and in charge.

Below is a video that shows a child getting a shot at the doctor’s office, and in the background you can hear his father saying “don’t cry, come on say it, say “I’m a man.” The child tries to stop crying and hits his chest with his little fist, repeating, “I’m a man!” While I personally think this video is adorable,  it did receive criticism for perpetuating the gender norm that men don’t cry.

Source: Youtube user Jamar Collins.


It is important to help a child get through a difficult situation, such as getting a shot. However, telling a young boy that he shouldn’t express his emotions is putting him into that gender box.  As Miriam Porter writes in her article, “Gender discrimination through the eyes of my son,” children don’t always see the gender norms that are being placed on them. She describes unfair gender norms for both boys and girls to her son, to which he replies, “Who makes the rules?” I did not always see how males could face harm from gender norms, so this topic broadened my understanding of gender norms and how working to understand them can help all people. Seeing how people are affected by gender norms, physically and mentally, can change how people view a norm and potentially how society works as a result of that norm.

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Who’s That Girl? It’s Katie

I am a senior Communication Studies major, concentrating on organizational communication and public relations. I have a minor in Rhetoric and Professional Writing. In my time at Longwood, I have joined numerous organizations. Currently, I am a sister of Alpha Gamma Delta, a member of the Geist chapter of Mortar Board, Vice President of Lambda Pi Eta. In addition to those organizations I have previously been a Peer Mentor and a Global Leader.


My SOVA supervisor (right), an athlete (middle), and I at the 2015 Summer Games

During my internship with Special Olympics Virginia, I gained new expertise, knowledge, and skills that have helped shape how I approach my field of study. In my internship I wrote and coordinated press releases for upcoming events and news. Executing several social media campaigns, which were successful, became a huge part of my experience. I was able to see a new side of social media, apart from what we learn in class or what I do in my free time. I also helped create web stories for the website by interviewing families and representatives involved in SOVA.

Intercultural Communication offered insight into how many different cultures view women and men. That is one of the only class-related times I have encountered gender, but it was a great learning opportunity. Like many, I have struggled with gendered norms my entire life, but especially in the last four years. I have a chronic condition and have been put on hormone treatments that have many side effects. As a result of the physical changes from hormone treatments gendered norms have become “normal” for me. From this course, I hope to learn how to communicate to others about gender identities and other issues. I want to ensure that I understand the issues so I can better communicate about them.

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3 Ways to Understand Your Culture

A culture can be seen in any society and makes up a large part of how we interact. This is also true of cultures in the workplace. In your workplace you may experience one type of culture, but your significant other or friend experiences a completely different kind at their workplace. This can be for a number of reasons, but we are going to focus on how a manager and the company itself plays a role in in how a culture is formed.

To see this culture, we must look into a few constructs….

1) Pragmatist or purist?


or pragmatist?

The Pragmatist Approach is when the culture of a workplace helps the manager to shape the organization, through strengthening commitment and performance. A manager is in charge of shaping the culture to fit with the company’s goals. The Purist Approach views culture as something an organization is, rather than just something it has. The interpretation of the culture by employees may vary in this approach.By determining which approach best fits your workplace, you are able to better understand its culture and why it functions how it does.

2) Take a look at your “web of significance”

Geertz’s description of culture

Clifford Geertz explains that in culture, we are not only forming these “webs” through our interactions, but we are also viewing the world through them and therefore may be limited by them. Does your boss call meetings in the conference room every time he has something to say? Does the company require certain phrases to be said or a certain attitude to be had while working? These can be workplace rituals and conversations that are a part of your workplace culture.

Disney has created a workplace culture through their brand, which is how they present themselves to the world. Through their orientation for new employees, or “cast members” as they call them, the Disney brand is explained and is often referred to in daily life. The principles that guide Disney are: Innovation, Quality, Storytelling, Community, Optimism, and Decency. It has been said that Disney’s culture is “non-negotiable” and that everyone employed there is active in this culture. Disney show the webs of significance working efficiently by the company ( and Walt Disney himself) putting this culture in place and having employees live this culture through rituals and conversation.

3) Are you blurring  the lines between work and home? 

A mom juggling work and home life

Because of corporate colonization, we have increasingly begun mixing home life and work life. Corporate colonization is explained as just that–when corporate beliefs run into our everyday lives. When I worked at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant as a hostess, I was required to be friendly to all guests and be cordial to employees, too. I soon began acting the same way to people when I was not working.

At first I was taking part in surface-acting (a portrayal of emotions not truly felt) but eventually started deep-acting (truly feeling the emotions required by my job). The deep-acting began because I got so involved in the company’s policy to be warm and welcoming to all guests. If this happens in your workplace, then your culture experiences corporate colonization.


Looking at these 3 aspects of culture will help you to understand what goes on around you and how it affects you. If there is unhappiness in your job, perhaps it is because of the culture surrounding you. Do you prefer the pragmatist approach to the purist, but your company is using the purist approach? Do the values created by the company not match with your own? Are you looking for a job with very defined work hours, that doesn’t overflow into your home life? By understanding your workplace culture, you can look into jobs whose cultures match with your own values and beliefs.

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3 Steps to Deciding Whether to Send That Email or Not

Say you are the general manager of a restaurant and you have to fire one of the servers working there. Would you send them an email, call them and possibly leave a message, or maybe send them a quick text? This is a common dilemma when facing possible conflict. There are many different levels of conflict and choosing which form of communication to use for each may help to solve part of the conflict, however small or large it may be.


To decide which form, or medium, of communication to use in this type of situation, there are 3 steps:

1) Decide how “ambiguous” the information being given is

As described by Katherine Miller, author of Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes, information that needs to be told to others is considered a task and that task can be either ambiguous or unambiguous. This means that a task that is open to multiple interpretations would be ambiguous and a task that is pretty cut-and-dry would be unambiguous. The information regarding firing an employee would be considered ambiguous since it could be interpreted differently than you intended which could cause conflict.

2) Look at the types of media you have to choose from

Each form of media can be categorized as either “rich” or “lean” media. Rich media are those that are more personal and involve multiple cues, like face-to-face interaction or video chats. Lean media would be the opposite, like text messages or flyers.

3) Do the first two steps match up?

Effective communication derives from an ambiguous task being explained using a “rich” media, like firing that previously mentioned employee in a face-to-face interaction. In a recent article on PRWeek, the CEO of AOL informed his employees about a decision made regarding healthcare via a mass email. Let’s think about this situation. He used a lean media for a pretty ambiguous task, and what was the result? A communication failure.

 Here is another example:

A very obvious communication failure. John is probably wondering why he is being fired.


Now, not everyone is a general manager or a CEO, so where does this information come in handy for the rest of us? If you are a student and need extra help from a professor for any number of reasons, you would be faced with an ambiguous task and should therefore choose a rich media to present the professor with this information. If you are falling behind on a project at work, you would need to talk to your boss face-to-face rather than through an email. On the other side, if you were having a yard sale and wanted to invite people in your neighborhood, it would be an unambiguous task and would need a more lean media, like flyers or an event on Facebook.

Communicating effectively is key to any position held or relationship.  Recognizing when to convey a message in an email, text message, or in person can determine exactly how a situation will unfold. Will it be simple, or will it turn into conflict? That depends on what you choose as your medium.


Which form best fits your task?


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To Sum It All Up…

Katie McGhee

Hello all! I am Katie McGhee, a sophomore Communication Studies major with a Rhetoric and Professional Writing minor. I grew up on a farm outside of Mechanicsville, Virginia, so Farmville is pretty close to my life back home. Here at Longwood University, I am a sister of Alpha Gamma Delta and was a Peer Mentor in the fall of 2013. I came to college as an undeclared student but by the end of my first semester I had fallen in love with Communication Studies. I personally believe that the ability to communicate well with others is an essential skill for any path a person may take. My hope is that through my own education in communication I will be able to join a campaign against human trafficking or become a lobbyist for that same cause.

I have always enjoyed speaking for presentations, but once I took my Public Speaking class I learned how to construct actual speeches with organizational patterns that would benefit the work that I hope to do. Along with that experience, I learned many things while working at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store & Restaurant. As a host and a cashier I worked with guests on two different levels. I learned how to read people, but also how to handle a difficult situation in both areas of my two jobs. However, I also worked alongside very different kinds of people, which showed me how all different types of people interact when placed in a necessary situation like needing to make money. Without this time at Cracker Barrel, I doubt I would have learned to manage a team of people as I was the host who had been there the longest. This taught me to delegate tasks as well as pick up the slack if necessary because we were considered a team. When working alone, I figured out how to best manage my time to make sure all tasks were done when they were needed to be done. Though neither jobs seem difficult, it is the mental part of it that you can either excel at coping with or get frustrated by easily, and I think I taught myself to cope well with whatever was thrown my way.

For my future, I have not fully decided about going to graduate school. If I do not, then I will try to get a job in a government related field or a PR firm that would help me get experience so that I could then branch off into either writing speeches or working on campaigns. Either way, I feel confident that I will find something that pertains to what I want to do. I have started to research different careers in my desired field and graduate school programs, but I have not taken any solid steps yet. From this Organizational Communication course I hope to learn how I can be a person that employers want to hire but also learn how become someone that can exist and perform well in any organization.

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