Girls from single-sex schools feel pressurized to act like ‘typical females’

Washington, Dec. 12: A new Concordia University study has found that the pressure to stick to gender roles is stronger in girls-only schools, where they feel the strain to act like ‘typical girls’, than in co-ed schools.

Under the leadership of William Bukowski, professor of psychology, the research team interviewed 469 fourth, fifth and sixth-grade girls from same-sex and mixed-sex schools in Colombia.

The girls were asked to respond to statements “I like to do the things that most girls like to do” to establish feelings related to gender identity.

By performing the study in Latin America, the researchers had increased access to same-sex schooling because of the greater frequency of all-girls schools.

The traditional Latin American emphasis on machismo also provided a more marked contrast between the genders.

Kate Drury, lead author of the study, said that whereas teen-aged girls from single-sex schools who display characteristics typical to their gender are less likely to be victimized by their peers, there is no such association for the girls in mixed-sex schools.

Along with feeling like more typical girls, the girls in the single-sex schools felt more pressure to conform to gender norms, suggesting that spending more time with same-gender peers leads to feeling more pressure to behave ‘like a girl’, Drury said.

Drury added that it doesn’t matter whether boys are present or not, if children feel a lot of pressure to conform to gender norms then it follows that being gender atypical in that environment is going to be difficult.

The study is published in the peer-reviewed journal Sex Roles. (ANI)