New York, Jan 6: For a tomboy, studying in an all-girls’ school may not be a good idea.
Girls at single-sex schools report higher levels of victimisation – either physical or psychological – like other students excluding them or disrupting their friendships with others, said a new study.
Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal suggested that single-sex schools may not be the best place for students who do not necessarily fit gender stereotypes.
“Girls who did not fit into a set of expectations of what a girl should be like, suffered more negative consequences,” said William Bukowski, a psychology professor and director of the Centre for Research in Human Development at Concordia University.
“Consider a tomboy. In a mixed-sex school, she can hang out with the boys but she does not have that option at an all-girls’ school,” he added.
Based on research done at two all-girls schools and two mixed-sex schools in Colombia, the authors found that girls who didn’t like to do typical ‘girl things’ were more likely to be victimised by their all-female peers than their counterparts in mixed schools.
The researchers involved 469 girls in grade four, five and six in lower middle-class neighbourhoods in Columbia.
The study, which involved asking students whether they perceived themselves to be like other girls and whether they felt pressure to conform, showed that their gender characteristics could actually become more, not less, important than at mixed-sex schools, said Bukowski.
“The absence of boys appeared to make sex roles more important, not less important,” added Bukowski.
However, the study offered no blanket conclusions on the merits of same-sex or mixed-sex schools for teachers or parents. “It’s about what will work well for a particular child and family,” it said.