A team of neuroscience and child development experts argue in a new article in Science magazine that there is “no empirical evidence” that segregating students by sex improves education—but that there is compelling evidence that it can increase gender stereotyping among students and adults.
The authors, led by Diane F. Halpern, a psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., found that the brain-based sex differences often cited by single-sex education advocates—such as differences in memory tasks and brain-activation patterns—have been small and generally the studies focused on adults, not children.
Likewise, they said, studies on the effectiveness of single-sex education programs have not accounted for academic differences in the students entering them. They found students in single-sex classes did not perform significantly better than those in mixed-gender classes, once their prior performance and characteristics were taken into account.
A version of this article appeared in the September 28, 2011 edition of Education Week as Single-Sex Schooling