Although some countries and regions have made tremendous gains in enhancing gender equality, people worldwide still face challenges constrained by patriarchal hetero orthodoxy due to discrimination and inequality. Gender inequality in the US has been prevalent in many dimensions, including the military ban on transgender people, the debate around gender-neutral restrooms, equal pay for men and women in the workplace, and single-sex education institutions. This shows that gender inequality continues to be a persistent problem that must be taken with the importance it deserves so that it can be stopped. Thus, the paper will evaluate single-sex education institutions by analyzing the arguments that support single-sex schools and those against them. This study supports that single-sex schools should be abolished.
One of the arguments for supporting single-sex schools is that they have fewer distractions than mixed schools. Single-sex schools avoid the opposite gender because boys or girls alone can be more focused on their own (Van Houtte, 2020). However, when the opposite gender is introduced, they will likely be distracted by trying to form relationships and please them. Boys and girls are different, which implies that they require adequate time to discover their bodies. When taken in mixed schools, they are likely to be concerned about their physical appearances, inhibiting their ability to focus on education attainment (Van Houtte, 2020). However, when they are in single-sex schools, they have a relaxed environment where they are free from the pressure of the opposite sex; hence they can focus on their studies and excel. According to a study conducted in South Korea, students who attended single-sex schools performed better than their partners in mixed schools (Barry, 2019). This indicates that single-sex schools provide learners with a more conducive environment to focus on education, not their physical appearance.
The other argument for single-sex education is that it provides an opportunity for a tailored education curriculum. When students study in single-sex schools, they have an opportunity to have a more tailored education and allocation of resources. In addition, single-sex institutions provide adequate room for free gender-based topics, which can be inhibited by mixed gender. For instance, girls’ sexual education is an important factor during adolescence; however, educators may face more challenges when teaching it in mixed schools than in single-sex schools (Van Houtte, 2020). Many schools have to segregate boys from girls to teach sexual-based topics, which makes them uncomfortable teaching the subjects. In addition, some education institutions are forced to skip or ignore the topics (Wong et al., 2018). This shows that single-sex schools provide a good opportunity for teaching tailored education for different sexes independently.
Single-sex education is essential for the empowerment of the different genders. This is especially beneficial to the girls because it provides an all-empowering environment for women where they can grow independently. Women in their learning institutions are safe from the erosion of self-worth built by their male peers through bullying them. According to Van Houtte (2020), women in their early academic or career years have low self-efficacy compared to men. Therefore, if they are not empowered during these vulnerable periods, they will likely face challenges with their self-esteem. Learning in single-sex institutions provides an excellent opportunity for women to focus on their self-esteem, achievement, and education. Thus, avoiding males in their learning empowers women making them less vulnerable to men than those who go to mixed schools. On the other hand, avoiding girls enables boys to be independent, and this empowers them to pursue their careers before engaging in opposite-sex relationships.
On the contrary, other theorists argue against single-sex education institutions. The traditional belief that girls are different from boys and that having them in the same educational institutions would be detrimental to their education and development is outdated and old fashion (Byrne & Carthy, 2020). Society is changing and becoming more secular; hence, there is a need to rethink same-sex schools. Religious schools provided same-sex education in the past to avoid the contamination of the students; however, the model is not applicable in today’s world. Thus, students should be allowed to learn in the same education institutions because the world has become more secular.
The second reason against same-sex education institutions is that it promotes gender stereotypes. When educational institutions inhibit boys and girls from interacting, it creates a gender stereotype that affects them negatively even when they leave school. When boys and girls are allowed to interact, they get to understand the nature and importance of each other, thus more capable of coordinating in the future than when each gender studies apart (Barry, 2019). Same-sex education institutions make students view the opposite gender as foreign, which may lead to a lack of understanding and respect between the different genders. However, the different genders form bonds and respect when allowed to interact and form friendships. Thus, this theory shows that abolishing same-sex education institutions in the US is advisable.
The third reason against single-sex education is that it leads to a lack of diversity which has been a major issue affecting the development of the US education system today. When students of the same gender learn in the same schools, various mentalities can flourish more than when they learn with their opposite sex. For instance, same-sex schools are characterized by high levels of bullying compared to mixed schools (Barry, 2019). This is because the educational institutions lack diversity; instead, students learn what to do as boys or girls. This puts them under pressure to adopt the expected behaviors, which leads to undesired behaviors, especially for the boys. Same-sex schools put much pressure on students who do not conform to the typical form of their sex. For instance, transgender students may have problems in single-gender schools because they may be forced to behave according to behaviors they do not conform to. However, when students are allowed to learn in mixed schools, they enhance diversity and can conform to the behaviors that suit them most. For instance, transgender males can adopt feminine behaviors without much pressure as compared to when they are in male-only learning institutions.
There has been much controversy about single-sex schools and mixed schools. Some theorists argue that single-sex schools are better than mixed schools, while others dispute this view and call for mixed schools. Those who argue for same-sex educational systems state that it leads to fewer distractions whereby each gender can focus better when studying alone. In addition, single-sex schools provide an opportunity for a gender-tailored education. Single-sex education institutions are essential for the empowerment of the different genders, especially the female gender. Theorists who argue against the same-sex education systems state that the model is old-fashioned and outdated as religious conservatives promoted it. In addition, single-sex schools lead to gender stereotypes as boys and girls are taught how to behave based on their gender, which may be problematic for transgender. Finally, mixed schools enhance diversity among students by allowing them to interact with the opposite gender. Both sides have made logical arguments to support their reasons. However, as the world evolves and gets closer to gender neutrality, single-sex schools are expected to reduce in number as mixed schools increase.
Barry, A. (2019). Gender differences in academic achievement in Saudi Arabia: A wake-up call to educational leaders. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 15(15).
Byrne, D., & Carthy, A. (2020). An argument against sex segregation in post-primary schools: Examining wellbeing perspectives. Psychology & Sexuality, 13(2).
Van Houtte, M. (2020). Boys keep swinging? Sex-composition of the school and pressure for gender-conformity. Gender and Education, 13(2), 1–17.
Wong, W. I., Shi, S. Y., & Chen, Z. (2018). Students from single-sex schools are more gender-salient and more anxious in mixed-gender situations: Results from high school and college samples. Plos One, 13(12), e0208707.