The New York Times ran last week the article, “The Universal Phenomenon of Men Interrupting Women.” The article states, “Academic studies and countless anecdotes make it clear that being interrupted, talked over, shut down or penalized for speaking out is nearly a universal experience for women when they are outnumbered by men.”
The article got me thinking about the supportive, inclusive nature of all-girls educational environments. Also, about how deep learning requires an atmosphere of respect that encourages students to engage in dialogue. Girls’ schools are such places.
At an all-girls school, girls take center stage and are encouraged to speak their minds without interruption. We not only observe this daily on our campuses, but research also supports this unique characteristic of girls’ schools. Dr. Rosemary C. Salomone noted, “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.” Girls’ school students self-report the same findings.
According to the High School Survey of Student Engagement data analyzed for Steeped in Learning: The Student Experience at All-Girls Schools, “girls’ school students are more likely than their female peers at coeducational independent and public schools to experience an environment that welcomes an open and safe exchange of ideas.” Nearly 87% of girls’ school students feel their opinions are respected at their school compared to 83% and 58% of girls at coed independent and public schools, respectively.
This experience does not shelter girls’ school students from the real world, but to the contrary better prepares them to find and use their voices beyond the walls of the classroom. As a college professor once shared with NCGS, “I could identify students from girls’ schools on the first day of class. They were the young women whose hands shot up in the air, who were not afraid to defend their positions.”
We are proud of the work of the men and women at our member schools who teach girls there’s enormous potential and power in being a girl. Together, we are raising girls’ voices.
Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools