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The Case Against Single-Sex schooling


The structure of the U.S. educational system is not only a topic of political debate — it’s a topic of psychological debate as well. Rebecca Bigler, professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Texas, Austin, and Lise Eliot, associate professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University, are coauthors of “The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling,” which heavily criticizes same-sex educational institutions:

Rigorous educational research has found that, contrary to popular belief, single-sex education does not produce better achievement outcomes compared to coeducation. Careful analysis in both the United States and from around the world demonstrates that any apparent advantage of single-sex schools disappears when you account for other characteristics, such as students’ prior ability and the length of the school day. Superior schools are successful for reasons that are unrelated to the gender of their student body.

Bigler and Eliot dismiss the idea that females and males learn differently, calling the evidence for that claim “small and statistical,” and argue that separating children based on gender only primes stereotypes about the opposite gender. According to Bigler and Eliot, the main defect in same-sex education is that it does not allow girls and boys to interact and learn from one another, which they see as a crucial element in creating “the truly egalitarian society that we hope for their future.”

Dr. Leonard Sax, executive director of the National Association of Single Sex Public Education, disagrees, arguing that males and females respond to and thrive in different learning environments: males in more energetic settings, and females in softer, calmer settings.


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