Single-Sex or Segregation?
Picture yourself at school. Raising your hand when you have a question, writing down the homework in your planner, and taking notes on the lesson.
The usual, right? Not so much. You look around and see all your classmates are male, and you are too. Your school is a single-sex school. These types of schools have not been common since the 19th century when only boys were allowed to go to school. So why are single-sex classrooms and schools making a prevalent return now? This particular type of education is making a comeback, and it is a trend that is growing quickly. In fact, these schools have been re-appearing in the country since the early 2000’s.
The problem with this sort of education is that, though it is helping some girls discover their true passions in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field, it actually contributes to gender inequality. Therefore, creating single-sex classrooms would not benefit education or promote learning and will instead enhance gender inequality. To begin, single-sex education promotes gender stereotypes. An example of a gender stereotype is automatically assuming a baby girl will like the color pink when she is born, even though she may turn out to be more of a tomboy when she grows older and like the color blue, for example. Gender stereotypes in single-sex education can be more serious than a girl liking blue instead of pink, though. The article “Is Division the Answer? More Public Schools Splitting Up Boys, Girls” states that, “When preparing for a test, the boys may go for a run, or engage in some other activity, while the girls are more likely to do calming exercises, such as yoga,” (Bonner and Hollingsworth 2).
Some girls may want to run before a test, while some boys might want to do yoga. Naturally presuming that girls want to do more calming things and boys wanting to partake in more rowdy exercises is extremely stereotypical. Furthermore, victimization is a problem caused by single-sex education. A study in Colombia found that, “Girls who didn’t like to do typical ‘girl things’ were more likely to be more victimized by their all-female peers than their counterparts in mixed schools,” (Solyom 1). The girls who were did not like to do typical girl things like playing dress-up and having tea parties were an issue to the “normal” girls, more than they were an issue to the boys.
Gender stereotyping is just one of the adversities in single-sex education and it proves it would not be beneficial at all. Furthermore, single-sex education is not the best solution for the lack of girls in the STEM field. The times are changing, and more and more girls are going into STEM, however, it is not enough. Still, boys outweigh girls in the field, and single-sex schools are trying to change that. Ms.
Sherwin, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project voices her opinion when she says, “The government has to try other things before resorting to sex separation…Many girls are able to succeed in science and math in coed schools,” (Khadaroo 2). And she is right: the government has to and can try other things.
Schools can have an even amount of boys and girls in the classroom. Perhaps there can be one or two co-teachers in the room to help focus on more students. These options are just the few that can make single-sex education avoidable. Also, “the creation of single-sex public schools…hasn’t been proved to improve outcomes,” (Khadaroo 1). If the approach has not been proven to work, then the government has to try the other ways mentioned above.
To summarize, there are other ways to make up for the lack of girls in the STEM field that are more beneficial than single-sex education. However, the opposing side claims that single-sex is the right approach and will solve the problem easier. They say that “…
the all-girls setting is powerful,” (Khadaroo 2). Ms. Chaves, who is a ninth grade Spanish teacher at one of the all-girl TYWLS (The Young Women’s Leadership School) in New York, claims that the setting is powerful. Her previous experience in coed schools has showed her that, “…
when group projects included some aspect of technology, typically the girls would say, ‘He knows better how to do this. I will do the writing part and he will do the technology part,'”(Khadaroo 2). With boys out of the way, girls are able to do the parts in a project they normally would not have been able to do. Secondly, at the all-girl schools girls are more comfortable and venturing into the STEM field when they themselves are doing the technology part, and not the boys (Khadaroo 2). Even with all these good things related to single-sex education, it is still not a good option. This is because, as stated before, there are other ways, like having an equal amount of each gender in every class.
More over, the success of the single-sex classrooms has not been proven, study-wise, that they are effectively solving the gap of a lack of females in the STEM field. Lastly, single-sex education actually leads to sexism. For schools that allow only the same sex, this could come as a surprise. Diane F. Halpern, a former president of the American Psychological Association, voiced her opinion.
She said, “…there are lots of problems whenever you segregate people into groups,” (Bonner and Hollingsworth 1). Segregating people into groups is exactly what single-sex education is doing, and one of the problems that is arising is sexism.
In addition, Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, agrees that sexism is an issue in single-sex education. He claims, “…there’s no proof single-sex classrooms work while there’s plenty of evidence they actually..
.lead to sexism,” (Bonner and Hollingsworth 2). Tying back to the last claim about single-sex education, these types of classrooms do not work and are not the best solution, as well as lead to sexism. To wrap up, the single-sex school approach leads to sexism. In conclusion, regardless of the few benefits single-sex education promotes, there is still more evidence in which single-sex education encourages gender inequality and does not benefit education. Even though opponents will claim that an all-girls school, for example, is a better place for girls to achieve in STEM, downsides will occur.
Gender stereotypes will cause trouble in schools, along with sexism. With that said, students, when vacillating between single-sex or not, choose not. Single-sex education is doing more harm than good, so what can be done? Will you let it happen? Or will you do something about it? That is up to you.