Our Students, Our Schools, Our Future

NCGS engages the power of many voices to strengthen our schools, communities, and world. Now is a time when we need to assert our collective voice—educators, parents, students, alumnae, and supporters—to ensure innovative, vibrant, and safe school environments. We must focus on our commitment to educate and empower students with the skills and confidence to make a positive impact on our world.

Deep learning requires that students feel safe and secure. Not just safe to express themselves and their ideas, but safe from threat of physical harm.

Educators play a critical role in empowering students with the tools and informed perspective to become influential contributors to our complex, changing world. We cannot achieve this without an unwavering faith in the security of our classrooms and campuses, and a steadfast imperative to requiring safe learning communities for our students. Furthermore, students cannot reach their full potential and develop into the leaders of tomorrow when faced with today’s reality of school shootings and violence.

As educators, parents, and alumnae, it is vitally important that we work together to inspire the next generation to lead with courage, competence, and empathy. At NCGS, we recognize the strength of our community to empower girls to use their voices to shape the world. Together, we can help build a more equitable and peaceful society by supporting civil discourse, cultivating respect for differences, promoting independent thinking, understanding varying perspectives, and committing to optimal and safe learning environments for our children.

The Extraordinary Relevance of Girls’ Schools: Educating the “Missing Million” and the First Female President

“There has never been a better time to be female. —Terri McCullough, Director of No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, a Clinton Foundation initiative led by former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton


I am a product of a girls’ school. The year I graduated, Saturday Night Fever had just come out. As a member of the yearbook staff, we were allowed to stay overnight in the school library to celebrate the yearbook’s completion. When we laid out the last photo and copy, we cranked the music and danced our hearts out to “Staying Alive.” The Head of School lived upstairs, and that night she joined us, not to quiet us down, but to dance with us. Surely, we were dancing to celebrate finishing a yearbook, but we were also dancing to celebrate ourselves. In the eleven years I spent at the school, my teachers knew me, encouraged me, saw promise in me, and urged me to see my potential. It was there I learned to write, to explore a text, to sculpt, to skip on a balance beam, to sing, to dissect, to explore, and to find my voice. It was there I discovered the extraordinary relevance of a girls’ school. That was over thirty years ago, and though the mission of educating girls has always been important, it has never been more relevant or more urgent.

This past July, I attended the annual STEM Think Tank and Conference at Harpeth Hall in Nashville, where I heard Terri McCullough speak. As director of No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, which tracks the progress of women and girls around the globe,  Ms. McCullough shared sobering statistics that point to a global gender “imagination gap.” Namely, that women around the globe are less able to imagine what they can truly achieve, and this is particularly evident in the fields of engineering, technology, and science. Women have even lost ground in those fields since the 1980s. According to the National Science Board report, Science & Engineering Indicators 2016, “Women remain underrepresented in the workforce, with the greatest disparities occurring in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences.” Per No Ceiling’s current estimates, there are “one million women” missing from science and engineering fields.

According to research outlined in the report Cracking the Gender Code, the problem “starts in the classroom…where too few girls are pursuing studies in computing and related subjects.” The report was produced jointly by the professional services company Accenture and Girls Who Code, an organization founded by 2015 NCGS Conference keynote speaker Reshma Saujani. Cracking the Gender Code includes data from the American Association of University Women noting that in recent years, “only 20 % of Advanced Placement (AP) computer science exam takers in high school have been female, compared to 48 % for calculus, 59 % for biology, and 34 % for physics,” The future is even more grim as the report goes on to state, “if nothing is done to change current trends, young women will lose the race for the high-value, high-productivity jobs at the heart of the digital economy.” Further, noted is the economic impact of the gender gap: “The shortage of females in computing is a fundamental economic challenge in the U.S. economy and our long term global competitiveness.” Moreover, when I asked Charles Fadel, co-author of 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times and a 2012 NCGS Conference keynote speaker, about the work needed to prepare girls for tech, he told me, “You better get on it!” Fortunately, in my work I have been able to see firsthand the impact girls’ schools  are having on correcting this gender gap.

At the Harpeth Hall conference, I met three young women, all under age thirty, who had started their own tech companies. After their talk, I spoke to one who, while completing her undergraduate studies, created an app that “propagates generosity.” I asked her what students need to know as they enter the world beyond high school and college. She replied, “Girls need to have or develop an undying curiosity for and about the world out there.” She then smiled and said, “Honestly, it’s so that they can achieve what the world has not yet imagined.”

But the data is hard to ignore, and the statistics are just as concerning for women entering the political arena. Indeed, the funnel of female candidates going into politics is just as meager as it is for STEM sector jobs. The recent NCGS article, “Helping Girls Find Their Political Voice” shared statistics from IGNITE: women make up 51% of the U.S. population, but hold only 22% of the 500,000 elected offices. That’s only 12% of our nation’s governors, 18% of mayors, 19% of congress, and 24% of state legislators. In order to have equal representation at every level of government, we need 140,000 more women in office. And, as the world knows well, the United States has yet to elect a women to the highest office in our country’s 240-year history.

To compound the issue, girls’ schools today are faced with even greater competition from coed and for-profit institutions as we are continually asked to explain what makes our schools not only unique but also relevant. Yet, when looking at the research about girls’ school graduates’ attitudes toward STEM and politics, this relevance is irrefutable:

  • Girls’ school grads are six times more likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology and three times more likely to consider engineering careers compared to girls who attend coed schools.
  • Girls’ school grads are also 12% more likely than their peers from coed schools to have a political discussion with friends. They also find it essential to keep current with the political scene.

So how, armed with this data, can we measure the value proposition of girls’ schools?

At Miss Hall’s School it comes down to mission. Founded in 1898, when young men were much more likely to have access to college preparatory education, Miss Mira Hall did something radical: she founded a school dedicated to ensuring girls would receive the same high-quality education as their male peers. Even when her school burned to the ground in 1923, she believed so strongly in her mission to educate girls that she raised the school from the ashes.

Those of us who work at girls’ schools live that mission every day. Through the Miss Hall’s core competencies of voice, vision, gumption, and interpersonal efficacy, we can frame conversations with students in ways that provide them with skills not only for their years at Miss Hall’s, but also to sustain them throughout their lives. Language about the core competencies is embedded both in admission and advancement materials, and more specifically, these principles guide all that we do—in syllabi, assessments, advising, grade level meetings, and graduation requirements. Using these principles to ground students in specific actions, we put language around the metrics of leadership and provide the critical tools toward empowerment.

Although in 1898 Mira Hall could not have imagined Hillary Clinton running for President of the United States, I am guessing she would agree with Clinton that “women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.” As Michelle Obama stated in her speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, her daughters “now live in a world where it is taken for granted that a woman could be President.” We did not see the first woman President elected this fall, but our mission has never been more important to ensure our students see this in their lifetime.

There are 161 million women and girls in the United States and 3.52 billion across the globe. Students at Miss Hall’s and girls’ schools around the world are part of this group, often dancing at morning meetings or assemblies to celebrate themselves and their potential to be agents of change in the world. Guided by our mission to educate future female leaders, we encourage girls to approach learning with courage, to invite them to become members of this missing million, to empower them to run for office, and to imagine and achieve what the world has never seen.

How Do Girls Learn Best?

As a new school year begins, we’ve been thinking a lot about how girls learn best. In many ways, this question could be answered by describing what girls’ schools do best. This is because girls’ schools are dedicated to championing the educational and developmental needs of girls.

So how do girls learn best? Here are just a few elements that are critical for helping young women reach their full potential:

Role Models and Strong Mentoring:

Girls need role models to help them become their best selves. Research has found positive female role models are essential for girls to grow into confident women, especially as they choose college majors and career paths that are needed in today’s world.

According to Lucia Gilbert, PhD, at Santa Clara University, not only do female students need mentors, they particularly need female mentors who can model greater diversity in women’s lives today. Her research shows female students, more than males, rated the same-sex mentor’s lifestyle and values as highly important to their own professional development. Gilbert also stresses female students working with female mentors may provide an important antidote to some women’s socialization to defer to men. Rather than being in a relationship of unequal power, in female mentor-female protégé relationships students learn to mobilize their full energies, resources, and strengths.

When a school combines positive role models and strong female mentors, reduced gender stereotyping in the classroom, and abundant learning opportunities, girls thrive.

Girls’ schools send that message to girls every day. Not only do students have a wealth of avenues for self-exploration and development at girls’ schools, they have a wealth of female mentors and peer role models.

Seeing It To Be It:

In addition to mentors and role models, studies confirm girls need examples of female heroes throughout history. In other words, girls must “see it to be it.” Learning about the women who have shaped our world helps girls set their own paths in life. Seeing women’s historic contributions inspires today’s girls.

While women account for 51% of our population, a review of mainstream American history begs the question, where were the women? Women account for only 10% of historical figures in our history textbooks. When girls don’t see themselves in textbooks they learn that to be female is to be less visible.

At girls’ schools, students see stories of trailblazing women every day. Women’s history is infused into the curricula and various aspects of school life to help embolden our girls to achieve their full potential in whichever field they’re drawn to. When girls learn about accomplished women in history they become more aware of the possibilities in their own lives.

Experiential Learning:

Girls are more engaged in learning the “how,” if they also learn the “why.” When trying new things and applying it to what they already know, girls can more clearly see how a particular subject area is relevant to their world and interests. Girls’ schools provide a variety of experiential learning opportunities ranging from internships to community service, study abroad to hands-on research.

Parents and employers are clamoring for an education that teaches students the competencies needed for success in the real world. While real world scenarios can be simulated in a classroom, experiential learning helps girls bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Experiential learning also provides the conditions that are optimal for girls to learn by engaging them in the learning process. The skills gained through experiential learning – having to problem solve in unfamiliar situations – help students develop into self-directed, life-long learners.

Girls’ schools don’t just offer equal opportunity, but every opportunity.

Collaboration:

Girls’ schools focus on the development of teamwork, which research shows girls prefer, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). According to the Center for Research on Girls, studies have identified several benefits of collaboration for women in STEM: more confidence in their solutions, combating negative stereotypes that technical work is solitary and competitive, higher quality work produced in less time than when working alone, improved understanding of course material, improved performance on exams, and increased enjoyment of activities.

The world is desperately seeking to plug the leaky STEM pipeline from its shortage of women, and girls’ schools are playing a critical role. Girls’ schools lead the way in graduating women who become our nation’s scientists, doctors, engineers, designers, and inventors. Girls’ school graduates are six times more likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology and three times more likely to consider engineering careers compared to girls who attend coed schools. Why? Because girls’ schools support collaboration and all-girl classrooms foster female confidence and aspirations.

Developing a Growth Mindset:

The terms “fixed” and “growth mindset” relate to one’s belief in their abilities. According to Carol Dweck, PhD, students with a fixed mindset “believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits.” Alternatively, in a growth mindset, students “believe their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point.” It comes as no surprise that students with a growth mindset tend to academically outperform their peers with a fixed mindset.

Girls are more likely to have a fixed mindset, especially when it comes to math, which contributes to the persistent gender gap in girls’ interest in the subject. This gap emerges in the middle school years, but studies have shown girls’ schools mitigate the declining interest. This is due in part to classroom collaboration, but also because girls’ schools help students develop a “can do” attitude. At girls’ schools, students are more likely to take healthy academic risks, learn through their mistakes, and build resilience.

Girls’ schools teach girls to think “even though I’m not able to do it yet, I’ll tackle the challenge.” The result is girls’ school alumnae go into the world with greater confidence in their academic and leadership skills knowing their goals are attainable.

Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment:

In addition to receiving standard written assessments (grades), girls also need to receive qualitative feedback and communication in order to reduce their anxiety. Girls are prone to perfectionism and have a fear of failure. Even when performing strongly in class, on homework, and tests, girls have a tendency to feel more threatened when being evaluated.

Teachers in girls’ schools are acutely aware of these specific anxieties and the need to support girls with one-on-one conversations related to their grades. This type of interaction is also vital to developing the student-teacher relationship and can often shine a light on how a student is relating to the subject matter. When too much emphasis is placed on just the quantitative grade, girls are inclined to equate that with their self-worth, which can diminish the love of learning.

To be successful, girls need more than just a feeling of support. That support must translate into actions geared toward student success. Nearly 96% of girls’ school students report receiving more frequent feedback on their assignments and other course work than girls at coed schools.

By focusing on how girls learn best, girls’ schools are centered around girls’ unique learning styles. In so doing, girls’ schools successfully prepare young women for lives of commitment, confidence, contribution, and fulfillment.

The Girls’ School Advantage: Top Ten Reasons to Attend an All-Girls School

The admissions season is coming to a close with families weighing their options. They are pouring over acceptance letters, evaluating financial aid packages, and reviewing for the final time their pros and cons lists comparing different schools. Lists that will help them make the ultimate decision—one that’s led equally by the head and the heart—which school will they entrust with educating their daughter.

For many families, they are making a choice between a girls’ school and one or more coed schools. NCGS encourages families to ask themselves, “What do girls’ schools do best?” We’re confident they will discover the answer to be, “A lot.”

Whether she wants to be an astronaut, ambassador, or accountant, a girl needs to know—not just think, but really know, deep down in her gut—nothing can stand in her way. Girls’ schools send that message to girls every day.

To help remind families how a girls’ school will engage, challenge, inspire, and prepare their daughter, here’s a list of the top ten reasons to attend an all-girls school supported by research:

10. INSPIRATIONAL ENVIRONMENT

Girls’ schools champion the education needs of girls.

Single-sex programs…create an institutional and classroom climate in which female students can express themselves freely and frequently, and develop higher order thinking skills. —Dr. Rosemary C. Salomone, St. John’s University, Public Single-Sex Schools: What Oprah Knew

The robust learning environment encountered by students at all-girls schools is highlighted by a recent survey of high school students. The girls’ responses provide unequivocal support for the value of an all-girls educational environment. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

9. ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

Girls’ schools create a culture of achievement.

More than 80% of girls’ school grads consider their academic performance highly successful. —Dr. Linda Sax, UCLA, Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College

Nearly 80% of girls’ school students report most of their classes challenge them to achieve their full academic potential compared to 72.3% of girls at coed independent and 44.3% at coed public schools. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

8. BUILDS SELF-CONFIDENCE

At girls’ schools, a girl occupies every role.

Majority of girls’ school grads report higher self-confidence over their coed peers. —Dr. Linda Sax, UCLA, Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College

All-girls settings seem to provide girls a certain comfort level that helps them develop greater self-confidence and broader interests, especially as they approach adolescence. —Dr. Rosemary C. Salomone, St. John’s University, Same, Difference, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling

7. DEVELOPS LEADERSHIP SKILLS

Girls’ schools empower students to become bold leaders.

Programs at girls’ schools focus on the development of teamwork over other qualities of leadership, while the qualities of confidence, compassion, and resilience also ranked prominently. —Dr. Nicole Archard, Kincoppal-Rose Bay School of the Sacred Heart, Student Leadership Development in Australian and New Zealand Secondary Girls’ Schools: A Staff Perspective

93% of girls’ school grads say they were offered greater leadership opportunities than peers at coed schools and 80% have held leadership positions since graduating from high school. —Goodman Research Group, The Girls’ School Experience: A Survey of Young Alumnae of Single-Sex Schools

6. SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING & MATH (STEM)

Girls’ schools champion the educational needs of girls as a group underrepresented in STEM majors and careers.

Girls’ school grads are 6 times more likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology compared to girls who attend coed schools. —Goodman Research Group, The Girls’ School Experience: A Survey of Young Alumnae of Single-Sex Schools

Compared to coed peers, girls’ school grads are 3 times more likely to consider engineering careers. —Dr. Linda Sax, UCLA, Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College

During the middle school years, girls show a decline in both their performance in math and their attitudes towards math. New research suggests that girls’ schools may mitigate the decline when compared with coed schools. —Dr. Carlo Cerruti, Harvard University, Exploring Girls’ Attitudes About Math

5. DEDICATED TO HOW GIRLS LEARN

Girls’ schools capitalize on girls’ unique learning styles.

To be successful, students need more than just a feeling of support. That support must translate into actions geared toward student success. Nearly 96% of girls’ school students report receiving more frequent feedback on their assignments and other course work compared to 92.9% of girls at coed independent and 79.5% at coed public schools. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

A study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education observed, “more positive academic and behavioral interactions between teachers and students in the single-sex schools than in the comparison to coed schools.” —U.S. Department of Education, Early Implementation of Public Single-Sex Schools: Perceptions and Characteristics

4. HIGHER ASPIRATIONS

Girls’ school students strive for greatness.

Girls at all levels of achievement in the single-sex schools receive a…benefit from the single-sex school environment in terms of heightened career aspirations—an effect unprecedented in any other portion of our study. —Dr. Cary M. Watson, Stanford University, Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

Students at all-girls schools have higher aspirations and greater motivation than their female peers at coed independent and public schools. More than 2/3 expect to earn a graduate or professional degree. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

3. EXCELLENT MENTORING

Girls’ school students are mentored by a community of peers, teachers, and school administrators.

The overwhelming majority of girls’ school students agree to strongly agree that they feel supported at their schools: 94.6% feel supported by their teachers compared to 84.1% of girls at coed schools, 89.9% report feeling supported by other students compared to 73.1% of girls at coed schools, and 82.8% feel supported by their school administrators compared 62.6% of girls at coed schools.  —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

Research indicates that girls place more emphasis on interpersonal relationships than boys, which may provide girls with beneficial social support… Compared to boys, girls are more likely to socialize in smaller groups, share more personal information with each other, and emphasize helping behavior over competitive behavior in their friendships. —Dr. Lisa Damour, Center for Research on Girls at Laurel School, Girls and Their Peers

2. PREPARES GIRLS FOR THE REAL WORLD

Girls’ schools engage students in activities that prepare them for life beyond the classroom.

Nearly half of all women graduating from single-sex schools rate their public speaking ability as high compared to 38.5% of women graduates from coed schools. A similar differential exists for writing abilities: 64.2% of girls’ school graduates assess their writing as high, compared to 58.8% of women graduates of coed schools. —Dr. Linda Sax, UCLA, Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College

In the world outside of school, the answers are not always found in the text. All-girls schools prepare students for the world beyond school by requiring outside research, encouraging them to connect ideas across problem domains, and challenging them to grapple with problems with no clear solution. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

1. ALLOWS GIRLS TO BE THEMSELVES

Girls’ schools provide an environment where students feel safe to express themselves and engage in an open and safe exchange of ideas.

Over 88% of girls’ school students report they are comfortable being themselves at school, which means they are free to focus their energies on their learning. —Dr. Richard A. Holmgren, Allegheny College, Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools

93% of girls’ school grads are very or extremely satisfied with their school’s ability to provide individualized attention, and 80% strongly feel encouragement to develop their own interests. —Goodman Research Group, The Girls’ School Experience: A Survey of Young Alumnae of Single-Sex Schools

Single-sex vs. Co-ed Schooling for Girls: What You Need to Know

The single-sex versus co-ed school debate is back in the headlines in Australia after The Armidale School (TAS) in New South Wales (NSW) announced it will enroll girls starting in 2016. As is the case at TAS, the movement toward co-education is usually driven more by economic viability than educational outcomes and preparation for the world beyond school.

Sadly, we don’t live in a world with gender equality. Men still earn more than women, and women are sorely underrepresented in senior leadership positions, on boards, and in government. Women often experience discrimination in their careers and girls are often disadvantaged in co-ed schools.

Choosing a school is one of the most important decisions that parents make for their children. There may never be agreement on which type of schooling is “better” or “best,” but what we should be able to agree on is that each child is an individual and having choice in the education sector is a positive, not a negative. Education is not “one size fits all.” Do we really want an education system that comprises only state-run co-ed schools? And would other female-oriented organizations such as Girl Guides or YWCA also be under pressure to admit boys?

The case for choosing a girls’ school is strong, and should not be based solely on academic results. While important, academic achievement is only one measure of a well-rounded education. Although girls’ schools consistently perform highly in the annual NAPLAN reading, writing, and numeracy tests and in Year 12 academic outcomes, it is the unparalleled opportunities that girls’ schools provide for girls both during and after their schooling that set them apart.

Girls are more confident and assertive in a learning environment that is free from gender discrimination. Without the competition and social pressure from boys, girls engage in more healthy competition and risk taking – skills that are advantageous for leadership and life success. Girls are also more likely to study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects, and participate in sports and physical education. And post-school they are more likely to pursue tertiary study and careers in STEM, hold leadership positions, and earn higher wages than girls’ educated in co-ed schools. One study suggests girls educated in girls’ schools earn 19.7% higher wages than girls from co-ed schools.

There are predictions of worldwide shortages in graduates from STEM courses, yet only 6.6% of Australian girls studied advanced mathematics in 2013, half the rate of boys. Even worse, in NSW, only 1.5% of girls took advanced mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Girls’ schools, however, are bucking the trend, with girls taking advanced mathematics and physical science subjects at rates as high as 30%.

It’s simply easier for girls to develop leadership skills in girls’ schools where girls fill every leadership position in every year level in every activity. We need more women ready and able to take up senior leadership positions and add diversity to the boards of Australian companies. Currently there are more men named Peter than the total number of women on the boards of ASX 200 companies.

Girls’ schools are at the forefront of ensuring that girls have the academic and leadership skills to equip them for a very different future than that envisioned by previous generations. Many of the jobs that today’s preschoolers will hold have not been invented yet, but most will require some STEM skills. Girls’ schools encourage girls to study STEM subjects and leave the door open to the highly skilled and more highly paid careers in areas tradi

The single-sex versus co-ed school debate is back in the headlines in Australia after The Armidale School (TAS) in New South Wales (NSW) announced it will enroll girls starting in 2016. As is the case at TAS, the movement toward co-education is usually driven more by economic viability than educational outcomes and preparation for the world beyond school.

Sadly, we don’t live in a world with gender equality. Men still earn more than women, and women are sorely underrepresented in senior leadership positions, on boards, and in government. Women often experience discrimination in their careers and girls are often disadvantaged in co-ed schools.

Choosing a school is one of the most important decisions that parents make for their children. There may never be agreement on which type of schooling is “better” or “best,” but what we should be able to agree on is that each child is an individual and having choice in the education sector is a positive, not a negative. Education is not “one size fits all.” Do we really want an education system that comprises only state-run co-ed schools? And would other female-oriented organizations such as Girl Guides or YWCA also be under pressure to admit boys?

The case for choosing a girls’ school is strong, and should not be based solely on academic results. While important, academic achievement is only one measure of a well-rounded education. Although girls’ schools consistently perform highly in the annual NAPLAN reading, writing, and numeracy tests and in Year 12 academic outcomes, it is the unparalleled opportunities that girls’ schools provide for girls both during and after their schooling that set them apart.

Girls are more confident and assertive in a learning environment that is free from gender discrimination. Without the competition and social pressure from boys, girls engage in more healthy competition and risk taking – skills that are advantageous for leadership and life success. Girls are also more likely to study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects, and participate in sports and physical education. And post-school they are more likely to pursue tertiary study and careers in STEM, hold leadership positions, and earn higher wages than girls’ educated in co-ed schools. One study suggests girls educated in girls’ schools earn 19.7% higher wages than girls from co-ed schools.

There are predictions of worldwide shortages in graduates from STEM courses, yet only 6.6% of Australian girls studied advanced mathematics in 2013, half the rate of boys. Even worse, in NSW, only 1.5% of girls took advanced mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Girls’ schools, however, are bucking the trend, with girls taking advanced mathematics and physical science subjects at rates as high as 30%.

It’s simply easier for girls to develop leadership skills in girls’ schools where girls fill every leadership position in every year level in every activity. We need more women ready and able to take up senior leadership positions and add diversity to the boards of Australian companies. Currently there are more men named Peter than the total number of women on the boards of ASX 200 companies.

Girls’ schools are at the forefront of ensuring that girls have the academic and leadership skills to equip them for a very different future than that envisioned by previous generations. Many of the jobs that today’s preschoolers will hold have not been invented yet, but most will require some STEM skills. Girls’ schools encourage girls to study STEM subjects and leave the door open to the highly skilled and more highly paid careers in areas traditionally dominated by men.

Single-sex schools also give girls and boys the opportunity to be taught in relevant ways to suit their different stages of development, interests, and learning styles. Research does tell us one of the key factors effecting learning outcomes is teacher effectiveness. Single-sex classrooms allow content and pedagogy to be tailored to the interests and learning styles of the gender. American psychologist JoAnn Deak said, “girls and boys are as different from the neck up as they are from the neck down.”

Parents also choose girls’ schools for their safe, nurturing environment; for the quality of pastoral care that is designed specifically for girls; and for the excellent female role models who encourage their daughters to aim high in whichever path they choose to follow.

Finally, the viewpoint that girls in single-sex schools are denied the opportunity to mix with boys and are unable to cope with the co-educational environment of university and the workplace is anachronistic. The education landscape has changed significantly, and in the twenty-first century students from single-sex schools are encouraged to participate in co-ed activities such as debating, music, drama, sports, and even academic programs – facilitated and promoted by their schools. Girls also socialize with boys at various school events and outside of school. The factor that distinguishes girls’ schools, however, is that there are no boys in the classroom to distract, discourage, or intimidate girls. Girls participate more actively in classroom discussions and are more engaged in their learning in a single-sex classroom.

Parents, and indeed students, value the ability to choose the school that best fits their needs. Girls’ schools are far more than their academic results — they provide a supportive learning environment that is free from gender discrimination, equipping girls with the confidence to study any subject they enjoy, participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, take on leadership roles, and pursue studies and careers in any field they choose.

tionally dominated by men.

Single-sex schools also give girls and boys the opportunity to be taught in relevant ways to suit their different stages of development, interests, and learning styles. Research does tell us one of the key factors effecting learning outcomes is teacher effectiveness. Single-sex classrooms allow content and pedagogy to be tailored to the interests and learning styles of the gender. American psychologist JoAnn Deak said, “girls and boys are as different from the neck up as they are from the neck down.”

Parents also choose girls’ schools for their safe, nurturing environment; for the quality of pastoral care that is designed specifically for girls; and for the excellent female role models who encourage their daughters to aim high in whichever path they choose to follow.

Finally, the viewpoint that girls in single-sex schools are denied the opportunity to mix with boys and are unable to cope with the co-educational environment of university and the workplace is anachronistic. The education landscape has changed significantly, and in the twenty-first century students from single-sex schools are encouraged to participate in co-ed activities such as debating, music, drama, sports, and even academic programs – facilitated and promoted by their schools. Girls also socialize with boys at various school events and outside of school. The factor that distinguishes girls’ schools, however, is that there are no boys in the classroom to distract, discourage, or intimidate girls. Girls participate more actively in classroom discussions and are more engaged in their learning in a single-sex classroom.

Parents, and indeed students, value the ability to choose the school that best fits their needs. Girls’ schools are far more than their academic results — they provide a supportive learning environment that is free from gender discrimination, equipping girls with the confidence to study any subject they enjoy, participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, take on leadership roles, and pursue studies and careers in any field they choose.