When girls are learning the skills they need to succeed, there are benefits to being educated in an all-girls environment. One reason is not the absence of boys, but rather the presence of girls.
Girls today have access to many more opportunities than in previous generations. One by one, the barriers separating girls from boys’ activities have fallen, and more women are now seen at boardroom tables, in science laboratories, in government and even in space. Despite these gains, women are still under-represented in many fields.
According to Megan Murphy, executive director of the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, even in progressive coed schools, boys still tend to dominate leadership positions and often occupy most of the seats in upper-level science and math classes. Boys’ athletics teams also typically get more attention, staff resources and funding.
When girls are learning the skills they need to succeed in fields that remain dominated by men, there are benefits to being educated in an all-girls environment, she said. The reason is not the absence of boys, but rather the presence of girls.
When every seat on student council is held by a girl, when every member of a top-flight math team is a girl and when every competitor on the sports team is a girl, it opens girls’ minds to the idea that they really can achieve success in any field.
“Whether a girl wants to be an astronaut, an ambassador, an author or an attorney, we want girls to know deep down that there’s nothing that can stand in their way,” said Murphy. “That’s the important message girls’ schools send to girls every single day.”
Studies have found that girls’ school graduates are six times more likely to major in math, science or technology, and three times more likely to consider careers in engineering than girls in coed schools.
Murphy said there’s no doubt that girls behave differently when they are surrounded only by other girls. Research shows that in all-girls’ schools, female students take more risks, are more comfortable with making mistakes and are more engaged in their learning compared to their peers in coed environments, she said.
One survey of alumnae from girls’ schools found 80 per cent of former students held leadership positions after graduation. Other studies have found that girls’ school graduates are six times more likely to major in math, science or technology, and three times more likely to consider careers in engineering than girls in coed schools.
For James Whitehouse, Head of Elmwood, it’s hard to overstate the impact on girls when they see older students taking on leadership roles, putting themselves forward to compete and demonstrating excellence in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
While Elmwood educators often spotlight the achievements of famous role models like female athletes, scientists and CEOs, he said in many ways the role models girls identify who are just a grade or two ahead can be far more influential.
Research shows that in all-girls’ schools such as Elmwood, students take more risks and are more engaged in their learning compared to their peers in coed environments.
“In a girls’ school they have exceptional role models every day in their peers,” he said. “Every voice is a girl. All their thoughts and ideas are heard.”
Whitehouse noted that over half of Elmwood’s graduates go into STEM subjects. “The girls are really passionate about those subject areas,” he said.
In a world where only six per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, Murphy said it remains very important for girls to practice speaking out and stepping up.
“What brings me great enthusiasm and hope is how girls’ schools foster an environment that helps girls hone their voices and learn how to use them at a very young age,” Murphy said.
For more information on Elmwood’s all-girls advantage Book Your Tour today.
Advantages of all-girls’ schools
- Nearly 87 per cent of girls’ school students feel their opinions are respected at their school, compared to 58 per cent at coed schools.
- Girls’ school graduates are three times more likely to consider engineering careers
- Girls’ school graduates are six times more likely to consider majoring in math, science and technology vs. girls in coed schools
Statistics provided by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Elmwood.
Written by: Briana Tomkinson, Postmedia Content Works