Girls' Schools are Great for Girls


Being confident and articulate is valued highly at Abbotsleigh, as it is at all girls' schools. These attributes are so important for each of our girls. In fact, the recently released report by the Australian Institute for Business and Economics Centre for Gender Equality in the Workplace: Hands up for Gender Equality: A Major Study into Confidence and Career Intentions of Adolescent Girls and Boys* clearly demonstrates that compared to girls in other environments, girls from girls' schools are more confident and are more likely to hold leadership positions if they attended a girls' school.

These findings reinforce the conclusions of research that has been undertaken in the past; that is, that girls' schools are really good for girls. 

Indeed, as reported by SMH's Jordan Baker in January this year, earlier studies have shown that 'girls' confidence in mixed environments tends to fall below boys' from about the age of nine, and the gap doesn't close until they are elderly.' However, the group that seems to be 'bucking the trend are girls at single-sex schools.' 

According to Dr Terry Fitzsimmons, (lead researcher for the most recent study above), 'one of the key factors protecting the self-confidence of girls at single-sex schools was likely to be watching other girls and women in leadership positions. There's no hint that there's an issue around gender.' The study also found that girls gained much confidence from participating in team sports and other co-curricular activities in their schools. 

Another factor that I find is so helpful for our girls is for them to see our parents and Old Girls as well as other women in different areas of life and work who are superb role models. It was certainly wonderful to learn that mathematician, Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger of the University of Western Australia, was awarded this year's prestigious Prime Minister's Prize for Science. 

'Emeritus Prof Praegar's 'highly innovative work includes research into the mathematics of symmetry in graphical models, which have far-reaching applications, such as enabling search engines to retrieve information efficiently from the World Wide Web. [She] is similarly famous for her research and work on algorithms – many of her algorithms are incorporated into powerful computer systems and have transformed the way in which algebra research and teaching is conducted.'

'What I love about mathematics is the way that it explains the world … It's almost like having a superpower,' Emeritus Professor Praeger said.  

'As a leading mathematician, Professor Praeger has mentored many young women and is very pleased that more and more young women are studying STEM and embarking on careers in this field. As she noted: 'It's important to make sure we are using all of our talents and if we ignore half of the population, I don't think we're doing our best.' Read the full article from The Educator here.

The debate about co-ed versus single sex schools features in the press quite regularly. The debate usually revolves around us being a 'co-ed' society. However, as Loren Bridge from the Alliance of Girls' Schools said in The Guardian this week – we may be 'co-ed', but we are not yet 'co-equal'*. Read the full article here

As I have said in the past, extensive research and my own experience have informed my fundamental belief that girls' schools are better for girls in our world of today (a world that is not yet co-equal in so many areas). 
At Abbotsleigh we see our girls, day in and day out, enthusiastically engaged in myriad activities, taking risks, demonstrating leadership skills and confidence. It is certainly a privilege to see our amazing girls flourishing as they have the opportunity to do more, so that they have the ability to be more.

*The full Australian Institute for Business and Economics Centre for Gender Equality in the Workplace report: Hands up for Gender Equality: A Major Study into Confidence and Career Intentions of Adolescent Girls and Boys can be found here.


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