Same-sex Education Not as Detrimental as it Seems
10/7/2011 9:10 AM
By LESLIE CHANG · Daily Trojan
The journal Science recently published a study that claims single-sex education is more detrimental than beneficial.
Unfortunately, our world is incredibly segregated by gender. Men and women often feel the need to live up to certain expectations society has instilled in them.
Thus, single-sex education is not as harmful asScience asserts it to be. In fact, it has many positive effects. Students who attend same-sex institutions can explore their minds in an environment free from gender stereotypes.
At USC, students obviously attend classes taught by members of the opposite sex and with members of the opposite sex. Students at universities and colleges such as Wellesley and Barnard have a vastly different experience in that respect.
The authors of the study, a group of researchers that includes psychologists, child development specialists and a neuroscientist who specializes in gender, claim sex segregation is not a catalyst for higher academic performance.
According to these researchers, there is no scientific backing to statistics that render higher test scores from single-sex classrooms, so there should be no reason to continue educating girls and boys in separate environments.
In fact, they argue breaking up gender is actually harmful to society, for the separation in itself is the first step to exacerbating gender stereotyping and reinforcing sexism within the work environment.
Advocates of single-sex environments, however, assert gender stereotypes are broken down, rather than reinforced, at such institutions.
Without the pressure of traditional male success in subjects such as math or science, girls are more likely to pursue careers in fields that otherwise would have been discouraged, such as engineering or biochemistry.
Without the stereotype of “girly subjects” looming overhead, boys are also presented with the opportunity to explore subjects such as music, poetry or home economics, classes that might otherwise be deemed “too sissy” to take just because they are considered more feminine subjects.
The absence of stereotypes under the guise of peer pressure will put a stop to gender roles that might consequently be broken in the future.
Students in single-sex classrooms or schools might not have any previous conceptions of what girls and boys are generally expected to do and how they are expected to act, which gives them an advantage as they stride forward without hesitation.
This is key to seeing the number of female CEOs or politicians rise because society still reinforces the idea that men are stronger, smarter and more capable.
Sex-typing, such as unequal pay for the same office position for males and females, only continues the very stereotypes that should, by now, be eradicated.
With that, Wellesley and Barnard seem to have their female students’ best interests in mind.
The conclusion might not be a direct result of keeping genders separate, but it is a success for those four years.
Individuals who attend single-sex institutions have the liberty to pursue their goals without the cultural values otherwise ingrained into the minds of everyone else — the lack of pressure serving as an advantage to stepping ahead without fear.
As a girl — and a likely minority in my future workplace — living in a weakened economy and male-dominated society, the eradication of gender roles is something I want to see in the near future to ensure my chances at proving myself are not lost to years of stereotype reinforcement.
The bigger picture needs to be taken into consideration. Stereotypes must be broken in the real world.
Link from the DailyTrojan.