Single-Sex Girls’ Schools an Investment in Women’s Equity

Loreto College principal Kylie McCullah says single-sex education is good for girls.
Mar 5, 2024
Ms Kylie McCullah, Principal of Loreto College Marryatville in South Australia,

In Australia, there is a noticeable shift happening in the education sector; private schools are moving towards co-education. Late last year, Newington College, one of Sydney’s oldest private all-boys schools, announced that the school would become fully co-educational by 2033.

The announcement has sparked debate about the benefits of co-ed, and whether more private schools should rethink gender-exclusive schooling.

With more than 20 years of experience in the girls’ education sector, Ms Kylie McCullah, Principal of Loreto College Marryatville in South Australia, is adamant that single-sex girls’ education is beneficial to fostering happy, successful young women.

“The investment in girls and young women, typically begins with decisions concerning their primary and secondary education. Should parents send their daughter to an all-girls or co-educational school? Whilst this decision chiefly depends on the individual child, research concludes that wholistically, girls perform better in a single-sex or girls-only school environment,” explains McCullah.

Academic performance found to be higher in single-sex girls' schools, so too is the uptake and interest in STEM subjects.

“Girls generally experience more positive attitudes and experiences in the areas of motivation, attendance, tertiary aspirations and even an increase in the likelihood of studying STEM courses, than would occur if the female student attended a coeducational environment,” McCullah says.

A study by Goodman Research Group found that girls’ school graduates are six times more likely to consider tertiary education in maths, science, and technology compared to girls who attended coeducational schools.

All-female environments build confidence in these areas because girls’ schools actively invest in strong STEM programs, clubs, and competitions, encouraging girls to explore and excel in these traditionally male-dominated areas. Gender-based stereotyping also has less of an impact on the curricular choices made by girls attending single-sex schools. This is because girls see other girls excelling in these areas, reinforcing belief in their capability.

McCullah believes increased confidence, engagement in the local community, and leadership skills are just some of the attributes graduates from all-girls schools are likely to develop in comparison to their co-ed counterparts.

“When appointed to positions of leadership or influence, women characteristically use their impact and any financial gain and share it amongst members of their family and wider community.  This means not only is the individual woman gaining from the investment, so to, are the women and men around them,” adds McCullah.

Economic growth, poverty reduction, and improved health outcomes flow from investing in women’s education. Policies and initiatives aimed at enhancing women's economic status are not just investments in gender equality but are crucial for achieving broader developmental goals.

“It is this ‘pay it forward’ effect that accelerates progress not just for women but for all,” says McCullah.