Jen Dalitz
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Little Wins

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Competition, all-girl groups and the case for single-sex schooling

Friday, May 04, 2012

I've been asked in the past whether single-sex schooling is appropriate in a gender balanced world, and being a co-ed kind of girl myself, I wasn't really sure.  So I was interested to read the results of this new study which  found robust differences between the competitive choices of girls from single-sex and coed schools. The study showed that adolescent girls were 16 percentage points more likely to enter a maze-solving tournament if they were in an all-female group, according to an experiment by Alison Booth and Patrick Nolen of the University of Essex in the UK and Australian National University.

Moreover, girls from single-sex schools behave more like boys even when randomly assigned to mixed-sex experimental groups. Thus it is untrue that the average female avoids competitive behaviour more than the average male. This suggests that observed gender differences might reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits. 

The study, which also shows that girls from single-sex schools choose to enter tournaments more than girls from coed schools, suggests that a girl's environment plays an important role in explaining whether she chooses to compete.

Access the full findings here.

 

Leith Mitchell commented on 24-May-2012 06:33 PM
Mid-way through reading a great book at the moment- Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine- debunking myths that female & male brains are vastly different. Fine asserts that when we look around in our society, and we want to explain whatever state of sex
inequality we have, it’s more comfortable to attribute it to some internal difference between men and women than the idea that there must be something very unjust about our society. My favourite example from the book- "according to Dr. Brizendine’s 2007 book
“The Female Brain”: “Maneuvering like an F-15, Sarah’s female brain is a high-performance emotion machine — geared to tracking, moment by moment, the nonverbal signals of the innermost feelings of others.” Is Sarah some kind of psychic? Dr. Fine clarifies:
“She is simply a woman who enjoys the extraordinary gift of mind reading that, apparently, is bestowed on all owners of a female brain.”
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