Single-gender schools prove beneficial

I have a different opinion than described in “Study shows single-gender schools cause stereotypes” published Wednesday in The Daily Texan.

First of all, nothing in the paper talked about how the research was conducted. Please describe what exactly was done. Grades? Statistical analysis between single-sex and normal public schools? Lab research? Functional MRI? Interviews of teachers? There is a lot of neuroscientific evidence about differences in the female and male brains at the embryonic stage. Males are born with bigger brains and females with large bridges — the structure which connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It might result in the differences shown by functional MRI studies in task-solving strategy: More neurons are activated throughout women’s brains while fewer neurons are activated more intensely in men. It should, therefore, not be surprising that men and women solve problems differently as adults.

Secondly, about two years ago, the Texan published an article about studies conducted in New York urban schools that showed that there is no difference for boys in co-ed schools but a huge difference for girls in middle and high schools. The academic success in single-gender girls schools was higher. And I can believe it. At least the article explained how the studies got those numbers.

Third and most importantly, the whole point of creating all-girls schools in poor performing school districts, such as Austin Independent School District, is to destroy the stereotypes created in “normal” schools: that girls do not succeed in math, science and engineering and are low achievers in general. For example, the Kealing Magnet Program’s MathCounts team is mostly or entirely all boys. The LASA High School Science Olympiad team had four brilliant girls and 11 wonderful boys on its 15-person team last year. Both schools have balanced male-female student populations. If you are in a girls-only school, all programs and organizations will have girls. Isn’t it wonderful? And it benefits the participants and the competitors from other schools and helps to destroy the gender stereotype. None of these benefits are mentioned in your article, by the way.

I think the creation of any school which seeks to differentiate itself from the failing schools we have in town now is a great initiative, and I would like to see UT be supportive of it.

— Galina Aglyamova
Research scientist associate, integrative biology