I graduated from Deerfield and quit co-ed education cold turkey when I stepped into Wellesley College, where most students identify as women. I transitioned from a culture that revolved around the influence of boys to their presence hardly being felt. The refrain among Wellesley students to the first years was this: “After a while, you just don’t notice.”
Deerfield’s toxic gender culture is a hierarchy determined by the boys, and every action I took was just another charge of my worth for the jury of boys to deliberate. My Wellesley siblings gave me the freedom I so badly needed but didn’t know existed. Removing boys from my academic life was jarring, but it felt like quitting cold turkey: once you eliminate the harmful thing entirely, it loses its power over you.
Leaving Deerfield helped me understand what it meant to be heard and to be respected for what you bring to the table and not how well you fit the mold. Single-gender education taught me what Deerfield couldn’t: self-worth is about the self, and not what “tradition” and “culture” prescribed to me. Women without limitations are a force to be reckoned with, and it is time for Deerfield’s women to defy the norm, own their power, and find their worth.