The Family Room The Family Room Blog Home

Do single-sex schools teach kids stereotypes?

Sex segregation reinforces outdated gender roles, some say.

By Kristin Wong May 23, 2013 4:02PM

Earlier this year, Maine faced a bill that would allow public schools to offer single-gender classrooms. After a local school district tried it for several years, Sen. John Tuttle argued that sex segregation allows kids to learn more effectively. 

Photo: Girls in single-sex school classroom / Elyse Lewin/Getty Images But the opposition complains that sex segregation reinforces negative gender stereotypes and roles. As an op-ed in the Portland Press Herald argues:

"If both boys and girls are told that girls are too shy to raise their hands in a mixed-gender classroom, so they have to be sent to a quieter place where they can learn, they will carry that message through life."

The piece adds that girls are likely to assume all boys are "cartoon images" who need "constant physical action."

"Boys who don't see girls performing alongside them in the classroom will develop ideas about girls' abilities based on what others tell them. They won't grow up seeing girls as individuals and knowing some who fit the stereotype and others who do not."

It's not all speculation; some experts would agree. A 2011 report in the Journal of Science argued the ineffectiveness of single-sex schooling. In “The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling,” experts reported:

“...sex-segregated education is deeply misguided and often justified by weak, cherry-picked or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence.”

They added that research in other countries has found little difference between single-sex and coed education.

Gallery: 7 annoying moms you’ll meet at the park (or wherever else you go)

Still, other studies would beg to differ.  There was a 2009 report from UCLA's Graduate School of Education, for example. Professors found that graduates of all-girls' schools showed stronger math and computer skills and had higher standardized test scores than coed graduates.

But psychologists and neuroscientists alike argue that any benefit to single-sex education is sorely outweighed by the long-term negative impact of gender segregation.

What do you think? Does single-sex education teach stereotypes? Or does it lead to better learning?

Love content like this? Friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and find us on Pinterest.

Photo: Girls in single-sex school classroom / Elyse Lewin/Getty Images


News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads

  • Baby in a bouncer

    10 things a new mom can't live without

    As a new mom, you’ve recently discovered there are many things you can live without—sleep and modesty being chief among them. But what can’t you live without? Seasoned moms share their Top 10 list for how to survive the early months of motherhood.

  • 28 ways to teach your kids to love their bodies (Courtesy of YourTango)

    28 ways to teach your kids to love their bodies

    Here are our experts' best tips for how to be a positive role model for your kids so that they grow up healthy, strong and confident about the way they look.

  • Parents fighting with child nearby

    Is your unhappy marriage hurting your kids?

    The center of the family is your relationship; not the children.

  • Cell phone in bed

    12 ways to have a great morning

    Transform your mornings from grumpy to great by following these 12 simple steps. (Singing in the shower is highly encouraged.)

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

    12 celebrities who opted to adopt

    We're all aware of the reasons one might prefer to raise biological children. There's the miraculous experience that is pregnancy and childbirth. Also, let's not forget how expensive adoption is (though with the cost of childbirth in the United States growing ever-more crippling, it's hard to say which method is most economical). Couple that with the difficulty of the adoption process -- unless, of course, you're Madonna -- and you've got plenty of strong incentives to go the traditional route. Despite the arduous adoption process and the significant financial commitment, all kinds of people -- both famous and not -- choose to adopt for a variety of reasons. Check out this slideshow to see which celebrities (besides the famous Jolie-Pitts) opted to adopt.

  • Parenting TED Talks SS

    The 8 TED talks every parent needs to watch

    One of our favorite ways to start the day is with a piping hot cup of coffee and a thought-provoking TED talk. In case you'€™re not familiar with the group, TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading ideas through projects and talks by a diverse group of inspired thinkers - people of all cultures, ages and disciplines. As you can probably guess, listening to these innovators share their ideas is a surefire way to jumpstart your day and get your creative juices flowing. Click through the slideshow above for the eight TED talks every parent needs to see. By Cordelia Tai

  • Pinterest (Pinterest)

    5 ways to 'prove' the Easter Bunny exists

    Got kids that are questioning whether or not the Easter Bunny is real? If you want to keep the tradition going at least one more year, try one of these ideas...

  • gracechon.com

    Adorable pics of baby and his matching rescue dog

    You're cold-hearted? We'll take care of that for you...read on.

  • Image via Tumblr // Image via Tumblr (Image via Tumblr)

    Kid writes the best poem ever about how much poetry sucks

    This kid despises poetry and he's not afraid to let you know.

  • Monster Jam World Finals 2014 (Courtesy of Dynamom)

    6 reasons monster truck shows rock

    I used to be one of those moms who thought, 'who on earth would bring their child to an event like that?' and then I had a son. Here's why you might become a convert, too.

  • 6 signs your home is ruled by cats (© Caroline Golon)

    6 signs your home is ruled by cats

    Take a look at your house for these telltale signs that a cat is running the show.

  • 7 signs you're ready to get a dog (© Thinkstock)

    7 signs you're ready to get a dog

    Check out this list of requirements you should meet before getting a new puppy or adult dog.

buzzing now on msn living
follow us
follow us follow us on facebook follow us on pinterest follow us on twitter
family videos