A League of Their Own: Do Single-Sex Schools Increase Girls’ Participation in the Physical Sciences?

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Sex Roles

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

With the rapid shifts in the education of women in the United States, and the underrepresentation of women in fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), an issue generating much controversy is whether women may benefit more from single-sex education or coeducation. The present study surveyed 548 U.S. high school boys and girls from single-sex and coeducational high-schools from the Midwest. Half of the participants completed a mathematics test under stereotype threat (ST) condition and half under no threat condition. Although girls in single-sex schools had higher achievement motive and self-esteem than those in coeducational schools, they were not more likely to pursue STEM careers. Overall, students in single-sex schools outperformed students from coeducational schools on the math test. Girls’ math performance was significantly higher in the ST condition than in the no threat condition.