I've been asked in the past whether single-sex schooling is appropriate in a gender balanced world, and being a co-ed kind of girl myself, I wasn't really sure. So I was interested to read the results of this new study which found robust differences between the competitive choices of girls from single-sex and coed schools. The study showed that adolescent girls were 16 percentage points more likely to enter a maze-solving tournament if they were in an all-female group, according to an experiment by Alison Booth and Patrick Nolen of the University of Essex in the UK and Australian National University.
Moreover, girls from single-sex schools behave more like boys even when randomly assigned to mixed-sex experimental groups. Thus it is untrue that the average female avoids competitive behaviour more than the average male. This suggests that observed gender differences might reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.
The study, which also shows that girls from single-sex schools choose to enter tournaments more than girls from coed schools, suggests that a girl's environment plays an important role in explaining whether she chooses to compete.
Access the full findings here.