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.

Elizabeth F. Cleary, Dean of Academics and Faculty, Miss Hall’s School

Women in the Philanthropic Driver’s Seat

“It’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life.”  – Oprah Winfrey, founder of NCGS member school, Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (South Africa)

During the month of November when we recognize National Philanthropy Day (November 15) and #GivingTuesday (November 29), let’s reflect on how women today are driving philanthropy in unprecedented ways.

In the U.S., women already control just over half (51%) of all personal wealth in the nation ($14 trillion) and are poised, through inheritances from spouses and parents, along with ever-growing earnings, to control an estimated $22 trillion by 2020. The ongoing long-term trend of women achieving, on average, higher levels of education than men, should also continue increasing women’s share of personal wealth for decades to come.

Women are exercising a burgeoning leadership not just in family philanthropy, but also in large-scale philanthropic donations. This is critical to fundraising because women are nearly twice as likely as men to say giving to charity is the most satisfying aspect of having wealth. Additionally, in growing numbers, women are leveraging their philanthropic influence in collaborative ways with one another by networking and creating giving circles to deepen their philanthropic impact.

Among NCGS’s principles is to “prepare girls for lives of commitment, confidence, contribution, and fulfillment.” In our unique position working with girls, we have the responsibility to introduce students to financial literacy, which includes philanthropic understanding, early in their lives. This helps lay a foundation for women to manage and donate money—a habit that continues for a lifetime.

The NCGS principle of self-efficacy, one’s belief in her ability to succeed and accomplish tasks, plays a role in how goals and challenges are approached. Women have the power to be agents of change through their philanthropic support and decisions. Women are beginning to exert this power by making larger gifts and engaging in more substantive ways with the organizations they support.

In addition to helping mold future generations of philanthropists, NCGS wants to help change perceptions within our member school communities about who is philanthropic and why

According to U.S. Trust, “women want to use their wealth in ways that will have a positive social impact, particularly when it comes to companies and causes in which they invest time and money.” And yet, giving to their alma maters routinely falls down women’s list of giving priorities. So what do our advancement and development teams need to do differently to encourage women to thrive as donors to our girls’ schools?

Partnering with the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, NCGS is addressing this question by focusing on current trends in women’s philanthropy. We are offering a variety of programs that will highlight how girls’ schools are blazing new trails in women’s philanthropy, giving our members practical action steps to implement at their own institutions.

I hope you will take advantage of these NCGS resources to further advance philanthropy within our schools:

  • I am facilitating a featured panel session at the CASE-NAIS Independent Schools Conference in Austin, Texas, on January 22-24, 2017. Women in the Philanthropic Driver’s Seat: How to Steer Funds to Your School will include Kathleen Loehr, Principal of Kathleen Loehr & Associates; Andrea Pactor, Associate Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy; and Elizabeth Zeigler of Graham-Pelton. These industry experts will offer their perspectives on women’s philanthropy globally and share research findings that account for various trends.
  • On January 23, 2017, Graham-Pelton is generously sponsoring a reception at the JW Marriott in Austin, TX, for representatives of NCGS member schools. Connect with girls’ school heads and advancement officers as well as gain further valuable insight from Graham-Pelton, a global fundraising consulting firm. To attend this complimentary evening exclusive for NCGS member schools, please contact Eliza McGehee.
  • The Women’s Philanthropy Institute is hosting DARE. DO. Women, Philanthropy, and Civil Society on March 14-15, 2017, in downtown Chicago. This two-day symposium will be a mix of interviews, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and networking. The symposium will focus more on the “why” than the “how-to” of women’s philanthropy. Topics covered will include continuity and change—how organizations can reframe messaging through new language and bolder thinking to stay vibrant and relevant; creativity—reimagining ways to maximize impact; community—how networks contribute to deepening women’s civic literacy and engagement; and collaboration—leveraging partnerships and amplifying voices. Click here for more information and to register.

NCGS is also hosting numerous upcoming professional development gatherings that will include sessions and pre-conference workshops dedicated to women’s philanthropy:

  • February 22, 2017: Educating Girls Symposium, School Communities: The Power of Many Voices in New York at The Nightingale-Bamford School.
  • June 25-27, 2017: NCGS Conference, Education Innovation: Building Cultures of Creativity in Washington, DC at the Marriott Wardman Park. At a pre-conference workshop, dive deeper into current research and trends in women’s philanthropy and how girls’ schools can put this knowledge to work in innovative ways.
  • October 23, 2017: Educating Girls Symposium, School Communities: The Power of Many Voices in Los Angeles at Westridge School.
  • April 2018: Philanthropic Round Table in New York, NY, hosted by Miss Hall’s School. NCGS will partner with Miss Hall’s to raise the level of discourse about women and philanthropy. Learn more about the history and outcomes of this event in our November PEP Talks episode, “Innovations in Women’s Philanthropy”.
  • June 18-20, 2018: Global Forum on Girls’ Education II in Washington, DC, at the Marriott Wardman Park will offer opportunities to engage in international dialogues about charitable giving.

Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools

Helping Girls Find Their Political Voice

On November 8, 2016, thousands of young women currently attending or recently graduated from girls’ schools across the country will be a part of history in more ways than one. They will be of eligible voting age for the first time, giving them the opportunity to help elect the next president of the United States. These young women will see a woman’s name listed on the ballot as a major party candidate for the first time in U.S. history.

In 2020, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted American women the right to vote. When we celebrate this milestone, it is possible we will have a woman in the White House as president.

As historic as this election is, we still have a long way to go. Women make up 51% of the population, but hold only 22% of the 500,000 elected offices in the United States. In order to have equal representation at every level of government, we need 140,000 more women in office.

Girls’ schools help girls develop their voices. In particular, their political voices. In fact, girls’ school graduates are 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. Girls’ schools are in a prime position to help plug the leaky political pipeline just as they are doing for women in STEAM.

Like girls’ schools around the world, IGNITE is an organization dedicated to helping young women develop and use their political voice. I recently had the opportunity to speak with IGNITE’s founder and president Anne Moses, who is an alumna of The Nightingale-Bamford School and an adjunct faculty member at the women’s college Mills.


Anne Moses, Founder and President of IGNITE

Q:  Tell me a little bit more about IGNITE. What is the organization’s mission?

A:  IGNITE is building a national movement of young women who are ready and eager to become the next generation of political leaders. We have programs for high school girls and college women that provide civic education, exposure to women in civic and political leadership, hands-on training opportunities, and a peer network of women who support and nurture each other’s aspirations. We are also working to shift the culture to one that’s more actively encouraging young women to declare their political ambitions. We just launched a very successful social campaign called #DeclareYourAmbition and our kick-off PSA, ‘We All Belong Here’ has received so much positive attention online in an otherwise nasty political season for women and girls.

Q:  What inspired you to start IGNITE?

A:  In 1991 I was 23 years old, applying to grad school, working as a waitress by night.  I was at home a lot during the day watching the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings during which Anita Hill got publicly humiliated on TV by the Senate Judiciary Committee—all men—who denied her experience of having been sexually harassed in her workplace. I remember screaming at the television when I saw the vote go down. We all know what happened next—the year of the woman in 1992, when four women were elected to the U.S. Senate. Fifteen years later, I had held leadership positions in some of the top women’s political organizations in the country and the number of women in federal office had only inched up. I realized, if we wanted to elect many more women in office, at the federal, state, and local levels, we needed to start building political ambition in young women, when they were in high school and college. Somebody had to do that work, so I started IGNITE.

Q:  Girls’ schools help young women build self-confidence, develop leadership skills, and set higher aspirations. How did your girls’ school experience influence the work you do today?

A:  I was fortunate to have a girls’ school education, so I know what it’s like to have a network of peers and a group of adult role models who have your back and are actively promoting your success. I think attending a girls’ school is one of the best ways to prepare a young woman to run for public office because girls’ schools are all about setting high aspirations. IGNITE wants young women to actively declare their ambitions and to embrace their innate leadership capabilities—all the things for which a girls’ school education stands.

Q:  Why is it important for women, especially young women, to get involved in the political process?

A:  Politics is really about governance; about who gets to make the policy decisions impacting your life. There are so many policy issues that our local, state, and federal elected leaders determine. Issues like who can access what kinds of healthcare and how our colleges or military should handle cases of sexual assault. Young women need to weigh in on these issues so they can ensure their interests are reflected and represented at the local, state, and federal levels. Half our population is made up of women. It’s common sense that half our policymakers ought to be women as well. This is more than an issue of equity. It’s a matter of good governance.

Q:  What role can young women play in the upcoming presidential election?

A:  Obviously, young women who can vote should exercise that hard won right. Those who are too young to vote can still voice their opinions and encourage their friends and family members to vote—and in many cases, they can facilitate that process by finding out where the requisite polling stations are and educating their peers and family about the importance of political participation. Civic education is only taught in 29 states across the U.S. (and not taught very well in many of those 29). This is one of the reasons we have such low voter turnout. If you are a young woman who feels passionately about the issues being put forth in this election and the candidates espousing those issues, use your voice to influence others. Also, we encourage young women to go to the IGNITE website to take the #DeclareYourAmbition pledge.

Q:  What would you say to a young woman who thinks her one vote won’t make a difference?

A:  It’s easy to assume a single vote won’t count given the millions of people who do vote. But more and more frequently, elections are decided by tiny margins. An example from the state of Washington: Senator Maria Cantwell and Governor Christine Gregoire both won statewide races by less than 250 votes. Likewise, local races for school board or city council seats are regularly decided by even smaller margins.

It’s also important to note young women (18-25) actually vote at higher rates than young men in every single election (typically by about 7%). But even in the most recent 2012 U.S. presidential election, only 44% of young women and 37% of young men actually voted! Imagine if every single eligible 18-25 year-old young woman voted? That group of young women would have the power to decide every election.

Q:  What are the biggest barriers stopping women from running for office?

A:  Young people are turned off by politics, and young women are turned off even more than young men. Given the political climate this year, it’s not at all surprising young women feel intimidated and completely disgusted by what they see as highly sexist treatment.

But more globally, I think young women who are interested in running feel like it’s too audacious to admit to political ambition. One of the things we often hear from college women is, ‘Well, I might be interested, but I don’t have enough experience to be qualified.’ You don’t need 20 years of experience to have a career goal! And certainly, the majority of male college students would never think they have to earn their ambition in the same way.

The research shows this all stems from the way we socialize young men and women—educators, parents, and other influencers don’t talk to women as much about politics and don’t actively encourage them to run for office or assume any kind of civic and political leadership. So political ambition is hindered from the get-go, and then young women who are interested feel isolated in their goals.

Q:  What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in getting involved in politics?


  1. Declare your ambition. Don’t be afraid to tell people this is what you want to do.
  2. Figure out which issue you care most about. Get involved in community efforts to address that issue and establish yourself as a go-to leader, someone who gets stuff done. 
  3. Find a candidate you like, volunteer on her campaign, do a great job, tell her you want to run for office some day, and ask her to mentor you. There’s nothing like working on a campaign to demystify the mechanics of running. And most women in office want to do right by the next generation.
  4. Be proactive about building and maintaining a network of people who can and will support you in all your endeavors. Do for others, do for your community, and be the kind of person you admire.

Q:  What work do you do with young women to make sure they have a political voice?

A:  Throughout all our programming, IGNITE gives young women a deeper understanding of an array of personally relevant policy issues. We don’t tell them what to think, we teach them how to think and critically analyze the issues in their communities and how they might solve them. We also teach them about voting—the history of the suffrage movement, and how to ensure they and their peers exercise that right. Last, we introduce our participants to elected women leaders from their home communities, who demystify the process of how to get elected, and give voice to the difference they make once in office. The combination of these factors helps young women see there are multiple ways to exercise their own political voice—as an advocate around policy issues, as a voter, and ultimately, as a legislator.

Q:  How can schools and students get involved with IGNITE programs?

A:  IGNITE has a high school curriculum that can be licensed by schools and teachers. College students can start an IGNITE Chapter on their campus or join an IGNITE Chapter, if one already exists. College professors can teach our class on Women & Politics.

Q:  Any programs for parents of girls?

A:  Yes! Elections provide a great opportunity for parents to engage their daughters in discussion around civic engagement and political leadership. IGNITE has a parent/daughter toolkit and discussion guides, complete with infographics and segmented by developmental stage.

Q:  Any final thoughts or words of advice you would like to share with the NCGS community?

A:  As educators, you have the power to encourage your students to step into political leadership. Tell a young woman to run for office in her school. Encourage a girl to consider political leadership for her career. Young women tend towards public service, but more typically in the non-profit or educational arenas. Elected leadership is the highest form of public service and has the capacity to change lives. We need more women in office, so ask a girl to run and see how it changes her outlook on what is possible.

Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools

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.


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.

Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools

Where Do Female Athletes Get the Recognition They Deserve? All-Girls Schools.

Women were not allowed to participate in the first modern Olympic games held in 1896. At the 1900 Olympics held in Paris, there were only 22 women among 997 athletes competing in just five sports. Female participation increases with every new games and women competed in every sport for the first time at the 2012 Olympics in London.

The world has come a long way, but as the coverage of the 2016 Olympics is showing us, we still have far to go. The current headlines say it all:

Instead of celebrating the achievement that female athletes are out in force at the 2016 Olympics with the highest percentage of female competitors in history, there’s a seemingly unending need for the success of these female athletes to be linked to the men in their lives.

How do we educate our young women to be resilient – persevere against the odds, build confidence to take risks, have the courage and conviction to be leaders – despite the uphill battles they face with negative media, unequal pay (though major strides were recently made when the Senate unanimously approved equal pay for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team), and body-shaming?

One answer is all-girls schools.

According to the National Coalition of Women and Girls in Education, “despite substantial benefits of participation in sports… students have fewer opportunities to participate in both high school and college sports than their male counterparts.” But not at all-girls schools.

In an all-girls school, a girl can comprehend her value and her capabilities in ways that have nothing to do with how she looks. She can be free to try new things and try on new roles. She can follow her ambitions without wasting a second thought or a backward glance on how her male counterparts might perceive her.

By subtracting boys, an all-girls education adds opportunities. At a girls’ school, a girl occupies every role: every position on every sports team, every team captain. Athletic facilities and coaches are dedicated to girls. There’s no waiting for access to the field or gym until after the football team practices. Not only does she have a wealth of avenues for self-exploration and development, she has a wealth of peer role models. Girls’ schools develop scholar-athletes where everyone supports the girls’ teams: every fan in the stands is cheering for girls.

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,” states Dr. Nicole Archard in her report Student Leadership Development in Australian and New Zealand Secondary Girls’ Schools.

A welcome exception to the media mishandlings about how to talk about female Olympians was when NBC broadcaster Rowdy Gaines said of the US swimmer Katie Ledecky: “A lot of people think she swims like a man. She swims like Katie Ledecky, for crying out loud.”

Ledecky, who wowed audiences around the world by winning one silver and four gold medals with unparalleled grace and focus, graduated last year from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. Among the other female Olympians who attended all-girls schools are Kate Grace, an alumna of Marlborough School who won the women’s 800 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials to earn her place on the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team. Of the female athletes representing Great Britain, 27% attended all-girls schools.

In girls’ schools we have a saying that our schools should not be judged by the absence of boys, but rather by the presence—the self-assurance, poise, and derring-do—of the girls themselves. The same can be said of female athletes. They should not be judged by the men in their lives, their appearance, or age, but rather by their accomplishments. And that is what they are, their individual accomplishments.

So let’s give female athletes around the world the proper admiration and credit they deserve for their hard work and dedication. Just as we do for our male athletes.

Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools

Summer Reading: For Students and Educators

Summer is the prime season for reading.

Students who take part in summer reading programs significantly improve their reading skills. Whether measured by the number of books read, amount of time spent reading, or total visits to the library, research shows that students’ vocabulary test scores increase as a result of summer reading. Instead of losing knowledge and skills during the summer months, kids can actually avoid summer learning loss and show gains.

We encourage our students to be life-long learners. As educators, we also need to be students ourselves to stay informed about topics such as best practices for teaching girls, classroom innovations, and health and wellness issues related to the healthy development of girls and young women. Summer affords faculty and administrators a precious few months to catch up on our “must read” lists.

Several NCGS member schools select an all-school book for students and faculty or an all-faculty book for summer reading. Recommended reading lists for students by grade levels are also popular practice.

As a thought leader in girls’ education, NCGS offers an online bookstore with reading lists for educators, students, and parents. NCGS thanks the faculty and staff at member Emma Willard School for curating this summer’s student reading lists grouped by age-appropriate levels. The NCGS bookstore is available to help schools identify an all-faculty book or inspire selections for your students. It’s also an excellent resource for recommended reading for parents of girls.

As another school year comes to a close, we hope you – and your students – find the time this summer to relax with a good book or two or three… or more!

Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools

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:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools

International Women’s Day: Step It Up for Girls’ Education

Today we proudly observe International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day first emerged from the labor movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and Europe. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to celebrate women’s rights and world peace by proclaiming March 8 as International Women’s Day. Since those early years, the day has become a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

The United Nation’s 2016 International Women’s Day theme, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” focuses on how to advance the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda is a plan of action to eradicate global poverty, preserve the planet’s natural resources, ensure prosperous societies, foster peace and justice, and strengthen global solidarity. This plan contains several goals that are aligned with the missions of NCGS and Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl empowerment campaign, including:

  • Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
  • Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Educating girls transforms lives, families, communities, and entire countries. Globally, more than 62 million girls, half of them adolescents, are not in school. Millions more are fighting to stay there. Access to education for women and girls, like gender equality, is not only a fundamental human right, it is also a means of achieving a peaceful, prosperous world that helps fuel sustainable economies and societies. When girls are educated, they lead healthier and more productive lives. They gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence to break the cycle of poverty and help strengthen their communities. And educated girls are also more likely to educate their future daughters.

As the leading advocate for girls’ schools, NCGS connects and collaborates globally with individuals, schools, and organizations dedicated to educating and empowering girls. Girl Up empowers and mobilizes girls around the world to take action by raising awareness and funds to help girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl. NCGS and Girl Up know it is vital to the continued health of girls’ education that we engage the power of many voices to strengthen our schools, communities, and world. We – educators, students, parents, alumnae, advocates – can help inspire the next generation of girls and women not just within our existing girls’ schools, but around the globe to lead with courage, competence, and empathy.

Progress has been made towards increasing access to education and enrollment rates in schools, yet bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals. While the world has achieved equality in primary education between girls and boys, few countries have achieved that target at all levels of education. Consider the different ways that girls’ rights to education are cut short around the world:

  • Only 32% of constitutions protect girls’ rights to attend secondary school. While 71% of national constitutions protect girls’ access to primary education, few countries protect their rights to attend secondary education.
  • In many countries, more than half of girls drop out before they reach the 6th grade.
  • Gender bias, cultural norms, and economic backgrounds can hinder girls from completing even the most basic level of schooling, regardless of the policy protections in place.
  • Girls from low-income families receive the least schooling. Particularly in Middle Eastern and African countries, girls from low-income families complete primary school at disproportionately low levels.
  • In many developing countries a prohibitively long – and unsafe – distance between home and school prevents girls in rural areas from completing their education, and girls in urban areas face social isolation and are more likely to be confined to the home.

For girls in developing countries, going to school can be more than just an opportunity to be educated – it can mean financial security, staying healthy and safe, and the possibility of getting a job that otherwise would not be possible.

Girl Up works closely with its partners at the United Nations to make sure adolescent girls have access to quality education and the opportunity to complete their schooling through high school. Providing a girl with an education means:

  • She is healthier – an educated girl is more likely to seek healthcare for herself and her family, and marry at an adult age.
  • She is economically powerful – an educated girl will earn more money, reinvest 80-90% of her wages back into her family and community helping to break the cycle of poverty.
  • She is poised to be a leader – an educated girl will be more involved in her community, more prepared for decision-making, and more confident in her own abilities.

The positive impact of girls’ education has been shown to transcend generations, resulting in better health outcomes among women, their children, and eventually, their grandchildren. Working together, the girls’ school community, strengthened by mission-aligned partners like Girl Up, can help prepare girls and women around the globe for lives of confidence, contribution, and fulfillment. If we are going to transform girls’ lives around the world, we need to advocate for girls’ education and gender equality not just annually on March 8, but 365 days a year.

Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) and Melissa Hillebrenner Kilby, Director, Girl Up

Data sources: Let Girls LearnNo Ceilings: The Full Participation ProjectGirl Up, and United Nations

Block that Stereotype: Doing Public Relations for Teenage Girls

I’m often stunned by what adults say to me when they learn that I’m a psychologist who consults to girls’ schools and cares for adolescent girls in my private practice. All too frequently I hear, “Teenage girls? They’re crazy!” or “How do you put up with all of those mean girls?” or “They’re totally obsessed with their phones!” Of course, anyone who works closely with teenage girls can attest that hoary stereotypes don’t begin to describe the dynamic, compelling young women we have the privilege of guiding, and learning from, every day.

Those of us who spend time with adolescents share an obligation to challenge the negative views held about teenagers in general and girls in particular. While conducting research for my book, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood (my 280-page attempt to change how adults think and talk about adolescent girls), I developed several handy responses to the derisive things I hear.

“Teenage girls? They’re crazy!”

Adults who make comments along these lines are usually referring to the intense emotionality that sometimes characterizes adolescent girls. Teachers of middle and upper school students know that girls sometimes do get upset, but usually feel better as quickly as they become undone. When confronted with adults who call girls “crazy” or “dramatic” I will often say:

“Yes, it’s true that girls can sometimes be intense and emotional, but being a teenager isn’t easy. A lot of growth and change is packed into a very short period of time, so it’s bound to be stressful.”    

If I’ve still got their attention, I’ll add:

“Interestingly, new research tells us that teenagers process feelings differently than kids and adults do. In adolescence, the part of the brain that calms feelings down is easily overridden by the part of the brain that has emotional reactions. Girls are rarely “being dramatic,” and most of the time, they manage their feelings really well.”

“How do you put up with all of those mean girls?”

I have an especially prickly reaction to comments like this because we have mountains of evidence demonstrating that girls are no meaner than boys. This is true regarding both the use of physical aggression and the use of relational aggression (rumor spreading, excluding, etc.) for which girls, specifically, are unfairly infamous. Here’s the response I stand ready to deliver:

“Funny you should say that. For the most part, girls are incredibly good to each other – I regularly watch girls go to bat for friends and lend support to classmates, even the ones they don’t much like. We know from research that girls are actually less aggressive than boys physically, and no more aggressive than boys socially. But when they’re not getting along, girls do become upset, seek peer support, and worry about one another. Adults are probably more likely to hear about it when girls are in conflict, but that doesn’t mean that girls are less kind than boys.”

“They’re totally obsessed with their phones!”

This is a tough one given that it’s pretty accurate. But in my experience, adults deliver this line in a tone suggesting that teenage girls are irrational creatures who cannot possibly be understood. So I say:

“Yes, they do love their phones. But as the researcher Danah Boyd notes, ‘They’re not addicted to their phones. They’re addicted to each other.’ And we were, too! I don’t know about you, but I spent many teenage afternoons pressing a corded phone to my ear, even as I did homework and watched television. If someone had given me better technology for staying in touch with my friends when I was a teenager, I know I would have used it.”

I find that my partners in these conversations are usually open to a more positive view of adolescent girls, especially when I back up my opinions with research. To me, there’s no better work than teaching and caring for teenagers. But if we really want to support girls, we need to advocate for them everywhere we go.

Lisa Damour, Director of Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls, is a psychologist in private practice and a clinical instructor at Case Western Reserve University, and writes a monthly column for the Motherlode blog at the New York Times. She is the author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood (Ballantine, 2016).

NCGS: 25 Years of Advancing Girls’ Education Together

The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) proudly celebrates this year a quarter century of advocating for girls’ schools. Consider the shifts in the educational landscape over the last 25 years, and you will see the impact of the Coalition. The early days of the feminist movement and the Title IX push for equal access placed all-girls schools at risk.  Although coeducation had been the norm in public schools in the U.S. since the mid-nineteenth century, the social changes occurring in the 1970s helped solidify coeducation as the universally accepted standard in both public and independent education. Men’s colleges and secondary schools, wanting to respond to the feminist cry for equal access while also seeing the enrollment advantages in widening their applicant pools, opened their doors to women and girls. Suddenly, single-sex institutions were no longer seen as a natural alternative. Despite the historic role of girls’ schools in providing quality education for girls, single-sex education was seen as anachronistic.

Girls’ school educators knew otherwise and recognized the urgent need to change the climate and the conversation.

I had the pleasure of hearing from the Coalition’s founding Co-Executive Directors, Margaret “Meg” Moulton and Whitney “Whitty” Ransome, regarding their reflections on 25 years of the Coalition, what the NCGS community means to them, and how the girls’ school landscape has changed.

MEGAN MURPHY: I know it’s hard to believe, but NCGS was founded under your leadership 25 years ago. Congratulations! I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions on the past 25 years of the Coalition.

MEG MOULTON: NCGS did for girls’ schools in the 90s (and continues to do so) what Gloria Steinem did for women in the 70s. It gave girls’ schools a voice and a place on the map. They were no longer referred to as “dinosaurs.” “Dynamite” was used to reference their stature and impact.

WHITTY RANSOME: We never dreamed during the late 1980s when NCGS was being conceived that so few could accomplish so much. Long before it became the norm, four of us ran NCGS as a virtual office with shared leadership roles, all on a shoestring budget. We became social entrepreneurs, supporting an engaged and committed Board in realizing common goals. The work of our volunteers matched and complemented the work of our incomparable professional colleagues!

MEG: Seeds were planted at the Coalition’s start. Those seeds are now bearing fruit. They will continue to do so given NCGS’ ability to ride the crest of the wave and to seek new opportunities to collaborate, serve its members, and advocate for girls and their education in a continually changing world. Megan, you and your team have excelled in your abilities to raise the curtain. The Board of Trustees, in its wisdom, has never failed to provide valuable strategic guidance in charting the organization’s next and future steps. NCGS remains strong, vital, and hasn’t forgotten to tip its hat and make its mark.

MEGAN: Thank you! NCGS is what it is today thanks to the dedicated passion you two brought to the organization. You shared your talents to advance girls’ education. What does NCGS and the girls’ school community mean to you?

WHITTY: Co-founding and co-directing NCGS has been the most fulfilling work of my career. My years with NCGS are about deep passion: a calling, not just a job. It’s been my honor to serve the thousands of women and men who expect the best from their girls and get it!  NCGS’ success depends on the power of collaboration, connections, creativity, and partnerships.  One of our former Board chairs called Meg and me “the guerilla girls” suggesting a can-do attitude on everything we undertook.

MEG: There is no question that Whitty and I take great pride in helping to give NCGS its legs at the start. NCGS reflects attributes that I would like to model in my life and hope that girls in our tomorrow will model them as well—strength of purpose, belief in one’s possibilities, the self-confidence to lead, a humbleness that allows one to join hands with others, the nerve to take informed risks, a belief in the power of one’s voice to be heard, and the drive to make a difference. The girls’ school community is a sisterhood of schools and colleagues who value education and are committed to a belief in the power of women to lead by example and to be change agents. It is a community of leaders and doers who have realized that, through their actions, there are many avenues on which to travel that impact girls and women directly and indirectly.

MEGAN: I can think of so many ways your influence is still felt today at NCGS from a continued dedication to research to providing valuable professional development opportunities. What are your proudest NCGS accomplishments?

WHITTY: Yes, using both qualitative and quantitative research to document outcomes and creating ways to serve our membership through conferences and professional development are among our proudest accomplishments for NCGS. Along with moving girls’ schools from surviving to thriving, helping build increased enrollments, positioning girls’ schools as thought leaders on multiple topics (STEM, civic engagement, leadership, global involvement, financial literacy, and countless other areas), data collection publications, and media work.

MEG: I am proud of what Whitty and I accomplished together at the Coalition’s start and I couldn’t be more proud of the organization today. Looking in my rear view window, I too take great pride in helping to trumpet the importance of research in documenting the value of girls’ schools. One of my greatest joys was stretching NCGS’ embrace internationally to include other girls’ school organizations and to broaden the reach of our work across national boundaries. NCGS was one of the first organizations to thinking globally and to begin to define programming that speaks to global citizenship. The upcoming Global Forum on Girls’ Education is a testament to the Coalition’s continued stature as a trusted leader, facilitator, responder to issues (and opportunities!) confronting girls worldwide.

MEGAN: How has the girls’ school landscape changed over the past 25 years?

MEG: Dramatically! A far more receptive audience is in place. Other agencies have invested in the education of girls worldwide. Girls’ public schools have opened with great success around this country and beyond due, in part, to NCGS’ active support in tilling the soil. Who would have imagined an increase in NCGS membership from 56 schools in 1991 to 200 in 2016, that new girls’ school would open, enrollment would grow, and impressive new levels of philanthropic support would be achieved?

WHITTY: Yes, the biggest change since 1991 has been the remarkable increase in enrollments and the establishment of new public and private girls’ schools in the U.S. and around the world. I attribute the resurgence of all-girls education to a savvy use of research, public relations, and the media. Coupled with the development of a common vocabulary describing the benefits and outcomes of an all-girls education, NCGS has positioned girls’ schools as thought-leaders on what strategies work best with girls.

MEG: In its 25 years, NCGS has become a respected worldwide advocate for the education of girls. Its members and public are singing the same song—girls matter, girls’ schools change lives.

MEGAN: Looking ahead to the next 25 years, what do you envision for the future of girls’ schools?

WHITTY: Harnessing the power of social media and other innovative technology as we did with print and TV, continuing international links, giving voice to girls who are denied education, and never underestimating the power of girls and women to change the world!

MEG: Girls’ schools and the education of girls have earned their place. NCGS will continue to weave its way into its future—rising to challenges and realizing opportunities. Garth Nix wrote, “Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” I believe with continued strong leadership and an enterprising spirit, NCGS will make its path and walk on it with the confidence and unequivocal belief that girls matter. NCGS will continue to make a difference in girls’ lives through promoting educational settings and communities that value their present and future.

MEGAN: Thank you both! The resources and opportunities NCGS provides are ever-evolving and growing, but the pillars of research, professional development, advocacy, and networking holding up our mission remain as strong today as when the Coalition was formed. I recently wrote to our membership that the NCGS mantra for 2016 was connect, collaborate, convene—three words that have been at the heart of the Coalition since its inception. Thank you for setting NCGS on this path!

Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools