As the number of public schools offering single sex classrooms increases, many parents of girls are wondering if it really makes a difference. What are the advantages of single sex education for girls? Do girls in single-gender education programs do better than their co-educational peers?
Though the research (the most notable of which is a study conducted by the Federal Department of Education) doesn't consistently indicate that single sex classrooms are better, advocates of single sex education disagree. For many people, it's about teaching each gender in a manner that will optimize their learning, in an environment that will best nurture that learning. Some studies show that girls seem to gain more benefits from single sex education than boys do.
Advantages of Single Sex Education for Girls
1. The freedom to explore all subjects without falling victim to the stereotype that math and science are hard. Without the peer pressure to take on more feminine subjects or the fear that boys won't like them if they're successful in traditionally male subjects, girls feel more confident in their ability to tackle mathematics and science.
2. Higher self-esteem. In reviewing the available studies, researcher Pamela Haag found that some studies concluded that girls in single sex educational environments are less critical of themselves than girls in coed schools, have higher career aspirations as they enter college and have less stereotypical views of gender roles.
3. Leadership training. Single sex education, whether it be girls' schools or single-gender classrooms, give girls the opportunity to take on leadership roles and interact with women in positions of leadership. A survey conducted by the National Coalition of Girls' Schools found that 93% of the women surveyed felt that they had more leadership opportunities and that 63% felt they were well-prepared for the "real world."