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Competition, all-girl groups and the case for single-sex schooling

I’ve been asked in the past whether single-sex schooling is appropriate in a gender balanced world, and being a co-ed kind of girl myself, I wasn’t really sure.¬† So I was interested to read the results of this new study which¬† found robust differences between the competitive choices of girls from
single-sex and coed schools. The study showed that adolescent girls were 16 percentage points more likely to
enter a maze-solving tournament if they were in an all-female group,
according to an experiment by Alison Booth and Patrick Nolen of the
University of Essex in the UK and Australian National University.

Moreover, girls from single-sex schools
behave more like boys even when randomly assigned to mixed-sex
experimental groups. Thus it is untrue that the average female avoids
competitive behaviour more than the average male. This suggests that
observed gender differences might reflect social learning rather than
inherent gender traits.

The study, which also shows that girls from single-sex schools choose to
enter tournaments more than girls from coed schools, suggests that a
girl’s environment plays an important role in explaining whether she
chooses to compete.

Access the full findings here.



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