Misconceptions of All Girls

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Periodically, as they should, our community of parents with school-age children revisit the perennial discussion regarding the value of a co-educational environment versus the that of a single-gender educational setting.

During these discussions, it is important that parents understand popular myths about all-girls’ schools and the facts dispelling these ideas.

Myth #1:  Girls’ schools create an overly protective space, coddling and shielding girls from the influences, peculiarities and behaviors of the opposite sex, thereby preventing them from being prepared for the real world of co-ed life.

Reality:  Girls’ schools do, indeed, protect and shelter their students in a way that seeks to transform them, building integrity and self-esteem.  The time spent in girls’ schools is often the most critical years for a young lady’s personal and intellectual development.

Many girls often need a community where they are given time and space to become independent and happy, curious and accomplished.  Girls’ schools provide this, helping girls become self-reliant, reflective, responsible and mature. 

Myth #2:  There is no scientific evidence for the positive effects of all girls’ schools.

Reality:  Recently, data from the survey conducted by UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies reveals well-documented evidence that girls’ school graduates entering their first year of college consistently assessed their abilities, self-confidence, engagements and ambitions as stronger for the academic disciplines than their peers from coed schools.

Specifically, the UCLA research found that girls’ schools graduates have an edge when it comes to interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. Ten percent more girls’ school graduates rate their confidence in math and computer abilities higher at the start of college compared to their peers from co-ed schools.  Girls’ school graduates are three times more likely than their coed peers to consider pursuing a career in engineering.

Myth #3:  Boys and girls learn the same way with one method of instruction fitting all.

Reality:  There are differences in male and female brains, including how information is processed and the ages at which brain structures develop and mature. It is how girls are taught that counts, and teaching to the distinct learning styles of girls is what girls’ schools do best. 

Myth #4:  There is no need for girls’ schools in a time when girls are going to college in greater numbers and a woman’s fight for parity in the workplace has been won.

Reality:  Women, over the years, have made great strides in corporate and political worlds.  Yet, the majority of top positions in finance, medicine and academia continue to be held by men.  Today, women are well represented in entry and mid-level positions in most sectors of the economy, but only 18 percent are currently advancing to the boardrooms and the executive suites. And, a woman makes 78.7 cents compared to every dollar earned by a man. 

Myth #5:  To develop leadership, one must be in a coed setting. 

Reality:  Leadership is not determined by genetics. Leadership is an acquired skill.  Girls’ schools constantly create new leadership opportunities in the classroom, the science lab, the playing field and on the stage. Ask girls’ schools graduates Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Sonya Sotomayor.

Girls’ schools enable young women to develop their voices, their character and their minds in a proud and meaningful manner.

When balancing the pros and cons of an all-girls’ school versus a coed one, do not judge based on the absence of boys, but rather by the presence of self-assured and poised young ladies who bring their character, a love for learning and an enthusiastic desire to succeed, borne of the value which girls’ schools bring to the educational system.