Does a Single-Sex Education System Benefit Students?

As a child, I thought all-girl schools were boarding schools, where the staff treated you horrendously, the food was dreadful, and the quality of life was grim. It seemed to me as somewhere no one wanted to be. By living in NYC my whole life, public schools were popular as they were close-by and were supported by the government, which was a seemly good enough argument for parents to send their children to public schools.

From elementary school to middle school and high school, I stayed in the public school system as the majority of students did.

Going to a public school was seen as “normal,” whereas some might think that going to a single sex school was seen as a threat to a child’s future. Single-sex schools’ research presents data highlighting the benefits to females in the single-sex education system; however, there are also uncertainties about single-sex schools. In this piece, I will be discussing the benefits of this education system with past research done that further analyzes those concepts, followed by what is lacking in this research, and what we, as a society should make of this data.

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Research suggests that single-sex schools remove distractions and stereotypical assumptions, allowing female students to improve in their academic performance. Females are known to get more easily distracted than males by their surroundings. Separating classes by sex will enable female students to be better engaged in the material (Eisenkop et al.

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7). A Nigerian study found an indirect relationship between female’s mathematics performance and stereotype threats in the classroom (Eisenkop et al. 2). When males are in the class, then stereotypical judgment stems from the idea that males do better in STEM fields. In a single-sex class, females do not get pressured into doing less of their ability.

Female single-sex classes have stereotypical conventions obliterated, allowing females to perform better than co-education classes. In female single-sex classes, social stereotyping is absent, allowing female’s academic performance to not to be drawn back by social conventions.

The average test scores point to the central idea that single-sex schools benefit females in mathematics. A study done in Switzerland assigned female students randomly to either a single sex class to a co-education class (Eisenkop et al. 3). The average grade for female students in single-sex classes was 4.665, and for the female students in co-education classes was 4.496 (Eisenkop et al. 16). The data suggest that females in single-sex classes mathematics grades drastically increased, compared to the other females in the co-education system. German language arts grades for the single-sex classes and the co-education classes were relatively in the same ballpark; female students in single-sex classes had an average of 4.807 and an average score of 4.813 in the co-education classes (Eisenkop et al.16). The data advocates that female students’ surroundings do not impact their German grades. Based on the data collected, researchers deduced that having single-sex classes for females improve their confidence, which improves their grades.

With the stereotypical mindset that males do better than females in mathematics, females may not have the courage to try to go above the average. Low grades in mathematics cause females to have a negative mindset when it comes to education, making them think that they cannot become successful. Due to this, co education classes have been known to compromise females’ self-esteem as there is the belief that females cannot do as well as the males in the class. Single-sex schooling has also been known to build up the confidence levels of female students, allowing them to pursue their goals and close the ratio gender gap in many careers (Eisenkop et al. 2). With confidence comes a competitive mindset, which causes females to strive for grades above the average, as well as the eager to learn the material (Eisenkop et al. 6). Researchers questioned if there was an indirect relationship between the number of boys in the class and female’s academic performance.

However, this indirect relationship was not the case, only the absence of boys allowed mathematic academic performances of girls to increase (Eisenkop et al. 19). Self-evaluation surveys were given out to the female students to evaluate how they perceive their mathematics and German skills. Based on the collection of surveys, females in single-sex classes had a higher positive assessment of their mathematics ability compared to females in co-education classes. According to table 9A, in single-sex classes, the female’s average response score for math self-assessment was 2.382, whereas for co-education classes the average response score was 2.032 (Eisenkop et al. 26).

Both single-sex classes and co-education classes had little to no difference in their assessment of their German abilities. In single classes, the average score response for German was 2.850, whereas for co-education classes the average score was 2.785 (Eisenkop et al. 26). Based on the responses, it was clear to see that there is a direct relationship between grades and perception of abilities. Researchers hypothesized that being in a single-sex class enables female students to have a stronger self-analysis of their mathematics abilities. Although studies were able to conclude that single-sex schools are beneficial to females, there are still uncertainties. A hypothesis stated in this study says, “the influence of teacher gender on the academic performance of female students in mathematics differs between single sex and coeducational classes” (Eisenkop et al. 12). Researchers believed that having a specific gender of the teacher can change the way the teacher connects with the students, overall altering the student’s habits and encouragement (Eisenkop et al. 3).

Researcher’s Holmlund and Sund wanted to discover the effect of different genders of teachers on student’s performance by conducting a study with different genders of teachers. The analysis of the data suggests that there is not enough strong evidence to prove that a student’s performance is related to the gender of the  teacher (Eisenkop et al.11). Further research needs to be conducted to find the effect of different genders of teachers on student’s academic performance.

Single-sex education research has not been going on for a long time; there are aspects of single-sex schools that are still unclear. One example is that the results collected in this paper do not apply to all countries. Systematic variations could occur, affecting the results of this study. Every country has different requirements for potential teachers. Additionally, every country has different examinations and modules for teachers to follow to prepare their students. The difficulty of the course workload can also vary. The data presented in this study only revolved around female students in single-sex classes. It is unclear whether the conclusion made from this study would apply to male students. Females are known to get more distracted than males; therefore, it is unclear if males would benefit the same way from single-sex schools as females do.

Research needs to be in other subject fields such as science, history, etc. to see if there are similar relationships. As indicated, single-sex education systems research is limited and more research will ensure the portrayal of information for a better analysis of the education system. Based on the analysis of the Switzerland academic performance study, the data suggest that females benefit from single-sex schools; distractions and stereotypical conventions are reduced in female single-sex classes, allowing females to concentrate on their education. The study presents further questions that need to be analyzed to thoroughly understand the effect of single-sex schools. With these uncertain pieces of data, researchers should conduct more studies with different variables, such as the behavior of males in single-sex classes. In further analysis, there has not been much data collected about the future outcomes of individuals in single-sex schools. Does being in single-sex schools affect their career choices, or affect the way they interact or judge the opposite sex?

The perspective of life overall might change for students who are put into single-sex schools, affecting their development. Based on the presented uncertainties, parents should have the right to place their child in the education system they see fit.

Work Cited

  1. Eisenkopf, G., Zohal Hessami, Z., Fischbacher, U., & Ursprung, H. (2011). Academic performance and single-sex schooling: Evidence from a natural experiment in Switzerland. Munich: CESifo, Center for Economic Studies & Ifo Institute for Economic Research.

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Does a Single-Sex Education System Benefit Students?. (2021, Dec 20). Retrieved from

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