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Same sex education or Single-sex education is the practice of conducting education where male and female students attend separate classes or in separate buildings or schools. The practice was predominant before the mid-twentieth century, particularly in secondary education and higher education. Single-sex education is often advocated on the basis of tradition, as well as religious or cultural values. It is practiced in many parts of the world. A number of studies starting in the 1990s are showing statistical data that children from single-sex schools are outperforming students from coeducational schools[How to reference and link to summary or text], however, other studies suggest that these are non-conclusive[How to reference and link to summary or text]. In 2002, because of these studies and bipartisan support, the US law of 1972 that made coeducation in public schools mandatory was revoked and funding was given in support of the single-sex option. There are now associations of parents who are advocating for single-sex education.


Many support single-sex education and hold that it can help student's learning.

Several studies show that single-sex groupings deliver advantages to students. Dr Rowe, a Principal Research Fellow at the Australian Council for Educational Research, presented the VCE Data Project – a population study of 270,000 Year 12 students’ achievements on 53 subjects of the Victorian Certificate of Education over a 6-year period (1994-1999). The findings indicated that after adjusting for measures of students’ ‘abilities’ and school sector (government, Catholic and independent), the achievements of boys and girls in single-sex environments were, on average, 15-22 percentile TER ranks higher than the achievements of their counterparts in co-educational settings.

According to supporters, gender roles can be subverted in a single-sex environment; girls will be more likely to pursue the arts, and boys more likely to pursue mathematics and science. Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, an Icelandic educator who introduced single-sex kindergarten to Iceland in 1989, stated: "Both sexes seek tasks they know. They select behavior they know and consider appropriate for their sex. In mixed schools, each sex monopolises its stereotyped tasks and behavior so the sex that really needs to practice new things never gets the opportunity. Thus, mixed-sex schools support and increase the old traditional roles." In one school which shifted from coeducation to single sex education, the girls who once didn't want to take up playing the trumpet, took courage to take it up in the single sex system and became very good at it.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

As well there are neurological and chemical differences that include: the female uses the left hemisphere of the brain more often; this area of the brain is associated with speaking, reading and writing. The frontal lobe (facilitates speech, thought and emotion) is more active in females.[1] Therefore they retain and process information better with open ended assignments that allow them to fully express themselves.[2]

According to many studies (Kadidy & Ditty, 2001, Elliot, 1971, Cone-Wesson & Ramirez, 1998) females hear better than males which would call for males to sit closer to the front of the classroom to hear instruction better; as males usually are seated in the rear of the classroom, this would be a change from the traditional seating arrangement. Also females have higher levels of estrogen in the brain which reduce aggressive behavior and create a calmer classroom atmosphere.[3] They are also more likely to assume a leadership role in a single-gendered classroom than a co-educational one.[4]

Without the presence of the opposite sex, students will be less distracted from their academics.[How to reference and link to summary or text] As well, teachers will have the ability to devote more time to instruction and less to discipline.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

In short males and females receive and process information differently, hear and see differently, and develop at different paces[How to reference and link to summary or text]; therefore, different teaching styles and classroom structures should be adopted to accommodate both sexes.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Further research involving classroom observation and gender specific instruction implementation should be monitored and considered.[How to reference and link to summary or text]


Supporters argue that socialization is not the same as putting together, but is a matter of educating in habits such as respect, generosity, fairness, loyalty, courtesy, etc. And this can be done with more success knowing the distinct tendencies of boys and girls.

Defenders also state that there are more teenage pregnancies and sexual harassment cases in coeducational schools. Catholics usually refer to teachings of Pope Pius XI in 1929. He wrote an encyclical entitled "Christian Education of Youth" where he addressed the topic of coeducation. He said: "False also and harmful to Christian education is the so-called method "co-education". This too, by many of its supporters is founded upon naturalism and the denial of original sin."


According to defenders of coeducation, segregated learning facilities are inherently unequal. System bias will reinforce gender stereotypes and perpetuate societal inequalities in opportunities afforded to males and females. Single-sex schools in fact accentuate gender-based educational limitations and discrimination. Boys' schools may not offer home economics classes, while girls' schools may not offer metalwork, woodwork or as wide a variety of sports.

Critics of the single sex education argue that without the presence of the opposite sex, students are denied a learning environment representative of real life. This deprives them of the opportunity to develop skills for interaction with peers of both genders in their work environment and fosters ignorance and prejudice toward the other gender.

See also[]

  • Sex segregation in Islam
  • Coeducation
  • Men's colleges
  • Women's colleges


- JOSSEY-BASS (Ed): Gender in Education. Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2002.

- FIZE, Michel: Les pièges de la mixité scolaire. Presses de la Renaissance, 2003.

- SALOMONE, Rosemary C.: Same, different, equal : rethinking single-sex schooling. New Haven : Yale University Press, c 2003.

- CAMPS, Jaume & VIDAL, Enric (Ed): Familia, Educación y Género. Monografias IESF n. 1, Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Familia, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, abril 2007.

- RIORDAN, Cornelius: "The Effects of Single Sex Schools: What Do We Know?", Lectures and Papers, First World Congress of Single-Sex Education (EASSE), Barcelona, 2007.

- VIDAL, E. (Ed). Diferentes, iguales, ¿juntos? Educación diferenciada. Ariel, Barcelona, 2006.


  1. Gurian, M., Henly, P., Truman, T. (2001). Boys and girls learn differently! San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  2. Ferarra, 2005. The single gender middle school classroom: A close-up look at gender differences in learning. The Australian Association for Research in Education Retrieved from:
  3. Gurian, M., Henly, P., Truman, T. (2001). Boys and girls learn differently! San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  4. Grossman, H. & Grossman, S. (1994). Gender issues in education. Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon.

External links[]

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