A study published in the Psychological Bulletin on Monday challenges claims of the benefits of single-sex education.

The meta-analysis examined 184 studies representing the testing of 1.6 million students from 21 nations, then selected 57 of those that corrected for factors like parental education and economics for further investigation. Several specific areas were examined, such as general school achievement, school attitudes, educational aspirations, and self-concept.

The authors found that many claims of single-sex schooling advocates, such as that girls and boys will perform better in different subjects when segregated, did not hold up. “The theoretical approach termed ‘girl power’ argues that girls lag behind boys in some subjects in coed classrooms,” said co-author Erin Pahlke, PhD, of Whitman College. “This is not supported by our analysis, and moreover, girls’ educational aspirations were not higher in single-sex schools.”

The study authors detailed disadvantages to single-sex education as well. “There is a mountain of research in social psychology showing that segregation by race or gender feeds stereotypes, and that’s not what we want,” said Janet Hyde, PhD,  professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The adult world is an integrated world, in the workplace and in the family, and the best thing we can do is provide that environment for children in school as we prepare them for adulthood.”

Check out Feminist Majority Foundation’s Education Equality Toolkit to learn more about sex segregation in schools.

Media Resources: American Psychological Association 2/3/14; University of Wisconsin-Madison News Releases 2/3/14; Feminist Majority Foundation

 

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