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.
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.
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