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Argumentative Essay: Single-Sex Education is More Beneficial for Females

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In tertiary education, it is uncommon to find single-sex colleges and universities, not only in America but also across the world. The education system usually sees college students as people who have gained maturity to be able to make sensible choices regarding their actions. However, single-sex education has been more prevalent in elementary and high school levels. The main reason it is prevalent in elementary and high school levels is because of the nature and extent of growth and development that children and teenagers experience at this period. In fact, Bigler and Signorella (9) points out that the power of peer pressure is no myth. Once children begin to have an interaction with others, peers will have a strong influence on gender attitudes and identities. More importantly, acceptance by peers is higher when children conform to gender stereotypes. Essentially, this motivates girls to conform to prescriptions for femininity and boys to those of masculinity (Elliot 363). Nonetheless, as children and teenagers develop their sexual consciousness, females would focus more on academics when studying in schools where there were no male students (Anfara, Vincent and Mertens 53). For instance, they would not experience the urge for romance and flirting with the opposite sex when they share classes or see them around from time to time. Schools on the other hand would have easier work focusing on education when dealing with only one gender. In retrospect, single-sex education is more beneficial for females because the school’s main focus is on the education.

From elementary school through college, in single-sex schools, heterosexual females are more likely to make academics a priority. According to various studies, the primary reason that heterosexual females are likely to focus on studies is that they do not have divided attention, particularly, the urge to impress their male counterparts in a mixed school or classroom (Anfara, Vincent and Mertens 55; Elliot 369). The females would study more without worrying about seeming like nerds. In a mixed dispensation, female students become aware of sexual attraction, and more often spend considerable time in pampering their image to entice their male colleagues. In the absence of male students, female students would be more focused on studies.

Moreover, the facts on women graduates from single-sex schools are also persuasive. When schools are in a mixed dispensation, most of them spend tremendous time in monitoring the behavior of both male and female students (Elliot 371). For example, teachers would want to be keen on how the mixed gender students relate with each other. However, in singe-sex education, the focus is only in education since teachers would not worry about children or teenagers engaging in elicit sexual behaviors (Bigler and Signorella 10). According to Hayes, Pahlke and Bigler (693), single-sex schools tend to emphasize academics significantly more than coeducational schools. They typically have same sex teachers and administrators, whereas the curriculum is more narrowly focused. Thus, such schools have several benefits for female students.

A major advantage is that girls and women feel less inhibited in the classroom and devote more time to academic work. Most female students also receive more attention and mentoring from their teachers (Hayes, Pahlke and Bigler 694). Another advantage is that single-sex schools foster social solidarity on a shared gender identity. Many societies have begun to establish women colleges because they provide a uniquely supportive environment in which women can develop their full potential, free from competition with men, for social status or for leadership (Anfara, Vincent and Mertens 56). Thus, females are likely to excel in a single-sex school setting than a mixed setting. Many female learners affirm that they feel more confident about subjects such as science and mathematics, when they attend single-sex schools. Besides, they receive more encouragement from their teachers and parents and thus, develop a stronger academic self-concept.

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In single-sex education, there is evidence from few studies because little focus has been given to the subject in terms of research. Hayes, Pahlke and Bigler (697) points out that in 2005, the US Department of Education undertook a systematic review of existing research on single-sex education. After an exhaustive search of the literature that initially identified over two hundred published studies, just four qualitative studies met standard criteria of validity. The existing data on outcomes in single-sex versus coed learning environments is problematic not only because it is so meager (Hayes, Pahlke and Bigler 699). It also happens that some of the most commonly cited research studies on the subject are among the shoddiest. However, the four qualitative studies that met the standard criteria all found a significant improvement in the academic performance of students assigned to single-sex classes. For the females, and after three years of assessment, only 59% of those in mixed classes reportedly achieved a score of proficiency on state assessment exams. In contrast, 75% of females in single-sex classes did attain the proficiency grade in the assessment exams (Hayes, Pahlke and Bigler 700). However, most of the studies did not give compelling reasons for the improvement.

When it comes to education in particular, a central issue is whether sex equality requires that all students be treated alike, or whether there might be a legitimate place for recognizing gender differences in the classroom. According to Elliot (376), there is need for a girls-only environment if they were to succeed academically. Because of these calls, a considerable numbers of middle-class parents are convinced of the virtues of that their daughters would develop in a single-sex environment. In recent years, there has been considerable interest in single-sex schooling in the public sector as a means to provide more equitable education for both males and females, particularly in sex-typed fields such as mathematics. Notably, there is support for the claim that single-gender schooling in mathematics is positive for females.

Several ideologies have emerged in the 21st century on how gender sexuality, gender roles, stereotypes, and social interactions between men and women are viewed in the education system. In the US education, the essentialist theory of gender learning styles, as well as conservative and neoliberal views of education has had a significant effect on the debate on single-sex schooling (Shapka and Keating 926). The theories envisage that boys and girls’ development differ during adolescence, gender specialties and differences allow women to find solidarity among women. In 2008, Title IX rules were changed by the Bush administration to include more school freedom to try single-sex options (Elliot 377). Over the last decade, nationwide and internationally, a continued increase in the boy-girl literary gap caused schools to consider separating boys and girls in reading and writing classes. In addition, the goal of helping females to be more successful in math, science, and technology has led to more girls-only classes in these subjects in both public and private schools. More schools are employing sex segregation because of repeated incidences of conflict between boys and girls. Clearly, coeducation renders power relations, which are usually invisible. Sex segregation helps to expose these power relations because of the absence of the other gender. This helps students to relate and act differently, to become owners of their own learning.

In a counter argument, proponents of coeducation argue that single-sex education has certain disadvantages. The most significant problem they say is that women and girls who attend single-sex schools lack the opportunities that students in coeducational schools enjoy. Thus, they lack educational equality (Shapka and Keating 933). In fact, they argue that the current workplace dispensation involves an environment that is diverse in terms of gender. Training females in an exclusively women environment would deny them social skills that are needed for the interaction with their male counterparts in the workplace (Shapka and Keating 936). Failure to have this gender interaction acumen would make them perform poorly in teams of both male and female. Thus, coeducation is often presented as a universal cure for disparities in educational opportunities for women and girls.

Clearly, the purpose of single-sex education for most schools is to provide appropriate and more effective education for each sex. As observed, single-sex education benefits females significantly because of the exclusive focus on them that single-sex schools administer. The use of single-sex schooling and the rationales for it differ markedly from country to country. In some places for instance, educators consider single-sex schools necessary because of differences in biological makeup between females and males. Religion may also be a factor. Thus, Muslim countries in general favor single-sex schooling because of their cultural values and religious roots. For example, in Pakistan, schooling is sex-segregated at all levels, in conformity with Islamic theology. Although in the US, there were fewer single-sex public schools, there is considerable debate about the value of single-sex schools in educational achievement. In retrospect, single-sex schools tend to emphasize on academics significantly more than coeducational schools, and these tremendously benefits female students.

Works Cited

  1. Anfara Jr, Vincent A, and Steven B. Mertens. “Do Single Sex Classes and Schools Make a Difference.” Middle School Journal, vol. 40, issue 2, Nov. 2008, p. 52-59,
  2. Bigler, Rebecca S, and Margaret L. Signorella, “Single-Sex Education: New Perspectives and Evidence on a Continuing Controversy.” Sex Roles, vol.65, iss. 9-10, 31 July 2011, doi:10.1007/s11199-011-0046x,
  3. Eliot, Lise. ‘Single-Sex Education and the Brain.’ Sex Roles, vol. 69, no. 7-8, 2013, pp. 363-381.
  4. ProQuest,, doi:
  5. Hayes, Amy R., Erin E. Pahlke, and Rebecca S. Bigler. ‘The Efficacy of Single-Sex Education: Testing for Selection and Peer Quality Effects.’ Sex Roles, vol. 65, no. 9-10, 2011, pp. 693-703. ProQuest,, doi:
  6. Shapka, Jennifer D., and Daniel P. Keating. ‘Effects of a Girls-Only Curriculum during Adolescence: Performance, Persistence, and Engagement in Mathematics and Science.’ American Educational Research Journal, vol. 40, no. 4, 2003, pp. 929-960. ProQuest,

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