January 8, 2020


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.

Girl Power

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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What are your reasons for sending your child to a co-ed or single sex school? Let us know in the comments. 


  • They have a great benefit as boys are generally given more slack to be disruptive and there is a train of thought on different learning styles for girls and boys. Can still be fraught with mean girls and there is a gap with socialising with boys.


  • My daughter is seven and I’m already appalled at what boys are saying to her in the classroom and playground. I’m not sure going single sex is a solution, though.


  • Girls probably perform better academically. I’m not sure that they escape low self esteem tho. Girls don’t like their bodies, their hair, their clothes etc. That doesn’t stop in an all girl school. And when it comes to relationships with boys, they may be disadvantaged with little social communication with them


  • It has been well researched that girls do better all round in single sex schools. However, boys are better co-ed.


  • We never had the option of going to an all girl school but I don’t think it really makes a difference. It’s the school and the teachers that make the difference. If the teachers and headmaster/headmistress do their job then all children will be rewarded


  • Mixed children is a better option in my opinion.

    • I think so too and I doubt if it’s true that girls are more confident in single sex schools.


  • We never had an option like that near us so co ed it was


  • I think co-ed school are better but I think its not for everyone


  • i personally prefer a co-ed – thats like the most natural thing .. character building it is.


  • Interesting read my daughter is going into year 4 at a coed school, I have to decide what to dofr high school


  • I don’t have the option to send my daughter to an all girl’s school as there is none close but I don’t think I would even if the opportunity was there. It’s an interesting theory though.


  • I’m not fussed on if the school is single sex or co-ed, I choose what is closest and more practical for my family. There are advantages to both schools


  • When there was Girls Technical High Schools and Boys Technical High Schools were in adjoining the boys used to congregate at the back of the Girls Technical High Schools if it backed onto a back street. They might have done better academically but not life skills


  • I’m a high school teacher currently working at a single sex all girls school. Definitely agree with the researchers, the school I’m currently working for has a 30 something year old female principle who is someone who has achieved a lot in life and still succeeding. I do believe it is the environment that cultivates the level of confidence and success in our girls and boys. Our principle is all about supporting and empowering and she’s old enough to have authority but young enough to be relate able and like an older sister. The female teachers at schools also play a primary role in teaching our girls to be confident leaders


  • My daughter went to a co-ed primary school but about to attend a girls school. Hopefully she adapts well.


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