Gender Bias in School
Leaper, Campbell (UC Santa Cruz). “Do I Belong? Gender, Peer Groups, and STEM Achievement,” International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology (2015).
Riegle-Crumb, Catherine and Morton, Karisma (University of Texas). “Gendered Expectations: Examining How Peers Shape Female Students’ Intent to Pursue STEM Fields,” Frontiers in Psychology (2017).
Lavy, Victor and Sand, Edith (University of Warwick). “On the Origins of Gender Human Capital Gaps: Short and Long Term Consequences of Teachers’ Stereotypical Biases,” Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (2015).
Female graduates of single-sex high schools demonstrate stronger academic orientations than their coeducational counterparts across a number of different categories, including higher levels of academic engagement, SAT scores, and confidence in mathematical ability and computer skills, according to this UCLA report. Women who attended single-sex schools tended to outperform their coeducational counterparts: mean SAT composite scores (verbal plus math) were 43 points higher for female single-sex graduates in the independent school sector and 28 points higher for single-sex alumnae in the Catholic school sector.
Assessing the biggest ever swath of historical data on the issue, researchers found that girls who go to girls’ schools will later earn more than those from mixed schools – partly because they are less likely to make gendered decisions about their studies and are therefore more likely to take math and science subjects.
Park, Hyunjoon, Behrman, Jere and Choi, Jaesung (U of Pennsylvania). “Causal Effects of Single-Sex Schools on College Entrance Exams and College Attendance: Random Assignment in Seoul High Schools.” January 2012.
We exploit a unique feature of schooling in Seoul, the random assignment of students into single-sex versus coeducational high schools, to assess causal effects of single-sex schools on college entrance exam scores and college attendance. Our validation of the random assignment shows comparable socioeconomic backgrounds and prior academic achievement of students attending single-sex schools and coeducational schools, which increases the credibility of our causal estimates of single-sex school effects. Attending all-boys schools or all-girls schools rather than attending coeducational schools is significantly associated with higher average scores on Korean and English test scores. Single-sex schools have a higher percentage of graduates who attended four- year colleges and a lower percentage of graduates who attended two-year junior colleges than coeducational schools. The positive effects of single-sex schools remain substantial, even after taking into account various school-level variables such as teacher quality, the student-teacher ratio, the proportion of students receiving lunch support, and whether the schools are public or private.
Across a wide range of high-quality studies, students in single-sex schools, compared to their counterparts in coeducational schools, have been shown to have higher academic achievement and more favorable social-emotional outcomes. What we do know with a reasonable degree of certainty is that, in general, single-sex schools are more effective than coeducational schools, and conversely, in general, that coeducational schools are not more effective nor are they more equitable. On average, students attending a single-sex school will gain small but significant and substantial educational and social emotional advantages.
Harvard’s new research report suggests that teen girls face a powerful barrier to leadership: gender bias. Based primarily on a survey of nearly 20,000 students, the report shows that many teen boys and teen girls — and some of their parents — have biases against teen girls as leaders.
Whereas perceived peer support is positively associated with girls ’ STEM achievement motivation, experiences with STEM-related discrimination are negatively related to achievement. In a survey of American adolescent girls, 52% of participants reported hearing negative comments about girls ’ abilities in science, math, or computing. The most common perpetrators were male peers.
In a nationally representative sample from grades 7-12, 56% of girls reported being sexually harassed in school; girls were more likely than boys to say they had been negatively affected by sexual harassment. These negative emotional effects take a toll on girls ’ education, decreasing productivity and increasing absenteeism from school. Thus, although both girls and boys can encounter sexual harassment at school, it remains a highly gendered phenomenon, directly and negatively associated with outcomes for girls.
Brutsaert, Herman and Van Houtte, M. “Gender Context of Schooling and Levels of Stress among Early Adolescent Pupils,” Education and Urban Society (2004).
US Department of Education. “Early Implementation of Public Single-Sex Schools: Perceptions and Characteristics.” (2009).
Watson, Cary. “Career Aspirations of Adolescent Girls: Effects of Achievement Level, Grade, and Single-Sex School Environment,” Sex Roles: A Journal of Research (2002).