A new study suggests that girls in single sex schools are fighting the gender gap when it comes to confidence.

Research suggests that, from the age of nine, girls experience a gradual drop in self-confidence, continually falling below that of boys until they are well into old age. A recent Australian study has made a surprising discovery, however, finding that one particular group of girls is going against the trend when it comes to this drop in confidence – those enrolled at all girls’ schools.

Girl Power

The study, conducted by the University of Queensland, involved 10,000 students in single sex schools answering a series of questions under test conditions. Dr Fitzsimmons, lead author of the study, said the findings were significant. “What this study goes to show… is that there is an environment in which whatever is driving that difference in confidence between adolescent boys and girls is not happening,” he said. Essentially, the study found that there was no difference in the confidence levels of students at single sex girls’ schools when compared with students at single sex boys’ schools. Dr Fitzsimmons suggested that confidence of female students at single sex girls’ schools may be the result of watching other girls and women in leadership positions within the school environment. “I’m not for a single second advocating single sex education,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “My thrust was simply to say that…the lack of self efficacy can be driven by the belief that certain roles are undertaken by men.”

Breaking The Cycle

Director of the Australian Gender Equality Council, Loren Bridge, said that girls’ schools place significant focus on challenging gender stereotypes. “It comes back to the notion that women in the workplace need to be ‘fixed’ because their confidence is lacking,” she said. “Maybe it’s the environment that needs to be fixed.” We couldn’t agree more. Even though this study highlights a group of young girls who seem to be resisting the inevitable drop of self-confidence experienced by women, perhaps the answer is not simply the school they are attending, but rather the role models such an environment provides.

What are your reasons for sending your child to a co-ed or single sex school? Let us know in the comments. 



  • It might be better for women but how are we ever going to teach women to respect themselves if they can only do it when they’re by themselves. And how are we going to teach men that women are equal if we remove them from their classrooms?


  • My kids went to a mixed public school simply because that’s all that was available in our area. We tried to enrol our daughter in a girls only school but were rejected as we lived out of area, which was disappointing


  • I know there was a study that found females did better in single sex schools and boys did better in co-Ed schools. But as we become more accepting of the range of identifications it makes it more difficult for children in single sex schools, as it’s fairly binary.


  • It really depends on the child. Some are suited to co-ed and some function better in single sex schools.


  • Real life is that we deal with both males and females. Prefer co-ed schools.


  • I think both types of schooling have their pro’s and cons.

    • Pros and cons for both for sure and parents need to do their research.


  • Choice is important and single sex will schools will suit some children and not others. Strong role models are important and opportunities.


  • While I am not pro single sex school perhaps there is something to be learned here for all schools. Role models are definitely needed for all kids.


  • Also the fact you don’t have boys pushing themselves forward all the time.


  • I won’t be sending my son to a single sex school as I want him to be able to interact with males and females…just like in the real world. I personally don’t like them and think they don’t help in getting kids to be confident around the other sex, or even know how to talk to and interact with them to some degree


  • I am with Ellen. I don’t like single-sex schools because this is not how society works. My daughter has always gone to a co-ed school, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any different.


  • Personally I don’t believe in single sex schools as society isn’t single sex either and school should help prepare our kids to live in a mixed society


  • Interesting article


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