February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
UN Women reports that worldwide less than 30 per cent of researchers are women and only 30 per cent of female students study STEM-related fields in higher education (UN Women 2019). Yet recent studies consistently show that girls in girls’ schools are bucking this trend:
- A 2017 report by Monash University found that girls at single-sex schools were 85 per cent more likely than girls in co-ed schools to study advanced STEM subjects (Forgasz & Leder, 2017).
- A study from the University of Sydney found that for girls, “single-sex settings resulted in much more favourable attitudes towards mathematics than those in coeducational settings” (Lee & Anderson, 2015).
- In 2017 a University of Queensland researcher found that single-sex environments have a positive impact on girls through encouraging them to take more male-dominated subjects and university degrees, such as engineering, than girls in co-educational schools. Tran found that girls from single-sex schools who achieve highly in mathematics are more likely to choose male-dominated subjects and degrees than girls from co-educational schools who are equally good at mathematics (Tran, 2017, pp. 59-60).
- A researcher at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research found that, by Year 8, girls in single-sex schools are more likely to enjoy and be confident in maths than girls in co-educational schools (Ryan, 2016).
- A Swiss study identified a “very robust” positive effect on mathematics proficiency for girls in single-sex classes and found that single-sex schooling strengthens girls’ self-confidence in mathematics (Eisenkopf, Hessami, Fischbacher & Ursprung, 2015).
- A 2018 German study has found that single-sex programs in computer science and mechanical engineering have led to a decrease in the number of female students dropping out of STEM disciplines (Busolt, Ludewig & Schmidt, 2018, p. 251).
- A 2017 Taiwanese study found that single-sex schools are advantageous for women’s pursuit of careers in the technology fields. With less gender stereotyping and discrimination women had the freedom to choose subjects that were not stereotypically for women. Single-sex schools were reported to provide girls with female role models who further encouraged their involvement in technology (Wang, 2017, pp. 156-157).
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The Alliance Research Library is an unparalleled source of information on single-sex education for girls with over 400 research abstracts, including over 160 related to single-sex education, many of which summarise research from subscription-only academic journals.