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The Disadvantages of Schools Segregated by Sex

by Neil Kokemuller

Despite efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union and other detractors, sex or gender-based segregation still exists in both public and private schools as of 2013. While proponents emphasize increased student concentration and gender-specific teaching opportunities, several common drawbacks have been noted in single-gender educational settings.

Promotes Gender Inequality

A major concern of the ACLU, as explained in a February 2012 article on its website, is that single-gendered schools tend to promote continued gender inequality for women. Much emphasis has been placed on providing women equal access to jobs and fair pay. Gender-segregation may teach young women that they aren't capable of competing in a contemporary workplace. Or at least, it limits the ability of men and women to learn the process of coexisting equally in a school environment.

Promotion of Gender Stereotypes

The other major contention of the ACLU is that gender-segregated schools perpetuate commonly-held stereotypes about the roles of men and women in society. In particular, the ACLU article noted that gender-specific schools tend to accentuate training boys to handle competition, while girls sometimes experience less pressure to perform on tests and school work. These qualities go against the general move toward promoting inclusion and acceptance of individuals in 2013.

Limited Academic Benefits

Proponents of single-gendered schools generally point to enhanced academic performance when students are isolated from other-gendered students. A September 2011 "ScienceDaily" article contended with this belief, noting that studies and publications by its authors show that single-gendered school students don't perform significantly better or worse than students in coed schools. However, students in segregated environments miss out on indirect opportunities to learn teamwork and cooperation in a mixed-gender setting.

Lack of Educator Training

Even if you were to give merit to the benefits of single-sex educational environments, educational nonprofit GreatSchools indicates that few teachers are effectively trained to manage a single-gender learning environment. Few colleges offer programs or courses specific to teaching in a gender-segregated environment. Instead, teachers typically come out of mixed-gendered college degree programs before taking over a same-gendered classroom.

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