3 Advantages of Single-Sex Schools

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Research has shown that single-sex schools have many advantages for their students. On the whole, students educated in single-sex schools have more confidence than their coed peers and perform better academically. In addition, these students tend to not feel the pressures of gender roles and learn to pursue areas that interest them no matter what is considered socially acceptable for their biological sex.

Though it's impossible to make true generalizations about all same-sex schools, the following are commonalities of most of them.

A More Relaxed Environment

Even though many boys' and girls' schools demonstrate high standards of education, they often have more relaxed environments than their co-ed counterparts. These are cultivated in the absence of gendered desires to impress. When students are among peers that are physically similar to them, they do not feel as if they have to prove something about their biological sex, as is often the case for girls and boys in traditional schools.

In addition to being true to themselves and behaving as they please, students in single-sex schools are more willing to take risks when they are not afraid of failing in front of the opposite sex. The resulting classrooms are often dynamic, free, and bursting with ideas and conversation—all hallmarks of a great education.

Same-sex schooling also reduces the formation of cliques in some cases. With oppressive gender stereotypes and gender distraction out of the picture, students can concentrate on their studies and extracurriculars. Some experts say that this lack of pressure and competition gives rise to more welcoming attitudes toward peers of the same biological sex and the easier formation of platonic relationships as well.

Less Gender Stereotyping

Gender stereotypes rarely find their way into and impact same-sex schools, though they persist outside of them. In co-ed schools, students speak and behave in the interest of affirming their gender-related self-concept. In same-sex schools, this is a much less prominent issue and students worry less about whether their behavior is masculine or feminine enough for how they'd like to be perceived.

Teachers in traditional schools tend to unconsciously (and unfairly) differentiate between males and females in their classroom when it comes to academics, behavior, and discipline—sex-segregated schools couldn't do this even if they wanted to. Overall, students in same-sex schools are less likely to feel pressured to act "correctly" in terms of cultural standards for their sex in the eyes of their teachers and peers.

A Curriculum Tailored to Student Needs and Interests

Some same-sex schools train their teachers in gender-specific teaching so that they can take full advantage of the opportunities a sex-segregated classroom affords. Same-sex schools make certain studies more productive and meaningful than co-ed schools.

Teachers at all-male schools can teach books that speak to the male experience. A class discussion of Hamlet in these schools might involve studying the complicated formation of a young man's identity. In an all-female school, students can read books with strong heroines such as Jane Eyre to understand how women's lives are affected by prevailing attitudes toward their sex and how they prevail in spite of these. Carefully-selected topics can benefit students by speaking to the nuanced experiences of a single sex.

Note that same-sex schooling only eliminates gender stereotypes when teachers do not make assumptions about the sex they teach. For example, a teacher in an all-male school can educate their students about how their bodies will change through puberty without making assumptions about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Teachers in all schools should only draw on what they know to be universally true of either sex and keep in mind that sex is not binary.

Article edited by Stacy Jagodowski