Gender segregation in educational institutions has been a subject of great deliberation as well as conflict. Proponents of single-sex schools give religious and orthodox arguments to assert that gender segregation is beneficial for the society on an aggregate level. However, critically evaluating the socio-economic situation of the world at present, one can very rightfully decipher that gender segregation fosters and give rise to gender disparity and inequality which is ultimately detrimental to a society in terms of development and progress.
From my initial elucidation on the subject of gender segregation, it can rightly be discerned that I, keeping in view, the contemporary mode of life, is strongly in negation of gender segregation in classroom due to the fact that it gives a great chance for the gender imbalance to thrive and prosper which on the long run is extremely unhealthy for any society in modern times. One of the most important roles that can be played in correcting this state of affair is that of parents. Most of the times, it is no one else but a child’s own parents who regards that their daughter/son must be taught separately without the interruption by any student of the opposite gender.
Gender differences grow deeper in non-segregated schools and myths regarding men’s and women’s cognitive differences are highlighted more. One of the strongest reasons that underlie the negation of gender segregation in educational institutions, particularly at an initial school level, is primarily the fostering impact that it has on inequality. In his article entitled “should boys and girls be taught separately in our schools”, the author Ellie Mulcahy critically analyzes and evaluates both sides of the story; the one supporting gender segregation in schools and the one negating it.
According to the author and other experts studying the same dilemma , we can assert that when boys and girls are taught separately in schools, the myths regarding men’s and women’s cognitive differences are highlighted and inculcated or embedded more strongly and deeply into the young minds of the students. The irony however lies in the fact that these differences have no such concrete basis and are just a form of irrational myths that has long been utilized by male chauvinists to gain advantage over the female specie.
The writer further stresses that contrary to the mass believe that gender differences casts an immense impact on learning patterns or preferences, the research has not indicated or proved any such thinking (Mulcahy,2017) . This translates to the at that gender differences originated not biologically but is a result of psychological efforts to devalue a woman and disregard her rights to satisfy male ego. Furthermore, many times parents of the students think it right to segregate girls and boys in relation to the gender myths.
David Holthose mentions in his article called “Gender segregation: Separate but effective?” a statement made by girl and which got affirmation from her parent too saying that girls don’t question much when boys are around owing to their shyness. (Holthose,2010). This mindset of parents needs to be altered for good. In addition to this, even if some gender differences occur in learning they can possibly not be generalized and hence are subjected to some individual differences. Therefore, we can assert that co-education helps removing perceived and mythical gender differences in learning processes.
Co-education helps avoiding gender stereotypes and the students learn gender fairness. David Holthouse has beautifully dealt with the subject of gender segregation in schools in his 2010 article entitled “Gender segregation: Separate but effective?”. The entire article is suffused with real life examples and testimonies and thinking of teachers, parents, students and experts and hence provides a holistic understanding of the matter.
One of the parents named Mark Jones (his views being cited in the same article) regards that through this gender segregation in schools and supporting this form of education serves to support nothing but irrational ideas about gender coming from the “dark ages”. Students learn gender fairness when they study in co-educational institutions and the supposed ‘weaker gender’ gets a chance to compete. The traditional “heroic behavior” and “good character” gets reinforced in single sex schools. (Holthouse,2010).
By this we mean that boys in single sex schools are made to learn to be more competitive, aggressive and dominating while girls are trained to be more cooperative shy and quiet. Hence, there is more focus on reinforcing gender stereotypes which ultimately creates noncompetitive and least exposed women in future and it is due to this that the social crimes against women such as domestic violence, sexual violence, and other related crimes against women occur worldwide.
The roots of such frustrations against women have a long history and schools serve as an institution where such initial judgments are formed. A stark example is given in the article when the author points out that in one specific 6th grade class in segregated school when boys were asked to brainstorm some words they were all related to action and aggressiveness and the girls were asked to imagine their “dream wedding cake” thereby indirectly telling them that they must think in the terms of gender.
This ultimately keeps them away from developing any form of compassion towards opposite gender. In addition to this, boys took more STEM subjects (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and girls were inclined to take softer subjects such as Arts and drama and this is reinforced only in single-sex school setting. Conclusively, we can say safely assume that co-education lead students of both gender compete and remove gender specific expectation and roles.
Many parents from the West as well as a lot of Muslim parents regard it good for their children especially the girls to get educated in a segregated school because of the free mixing of girls and boys in coeducational institution which can lead to teenage crimes but since this attitude depends on the nurture, children must not be segregated on the basis of this idea. Eventually they will step into a mix world and this attitude of parents will halt their interpersonal skills.
Co-education prepares students to learn how to deal with opposite genders as they ultimately had to face in practical lives. Yet another reason for negating gender segregation is because of the fact that since this world is integrated and a mixture of both genders, students when practically exposed to the world won’t find it difficult to settle if they have had a combined education system. Never in this century one could possibly find a road where only women are driving, or a departmental store where only men are shopping, or a club where only men are dancing and hence to survive in the corporate world, gender segregation must be dealt with opposition.
The proponents of gender segregation in schools are of the view that because of the difference in the learning patterns of girls and boys, they must be segregated. This view also occurs on an online debating platform called debate.org where in order to support their stance on the subject they were of the view that to reach their maximum potential, girls and boys must be kept separately from each other’s influence (Debate.org). In addition to this, the intimacies between girls and boys that occur quite easily in co-educational situations have been cited as one of the arguments against non-segregated schools.
Although the latter claim by opposition might be true to some extent as seen in the increase in intimation, it can be controlled by enforcing strict rules and regulations. The former view point of segregating them on the basis of their different learning capabilities serve as a support to the already present gender inequity and discrimination faced by females in work places. Also, once they enter their professional lives, children from segregated schools find it hard to catch up with the mixed environment.
According to Emily Martin, Deputy Director of the ACLU Women’ Rights Program, gender segregation in schools cannot possibly boost learning by either sex because there has been no proven instance of this claim and the thinking that gender differences in cognitive patterns are there too, has no evidence whatsoever. (Holthhose, 2010. While the intimacy argument can be dealt with the inclusion of strict atmosphere in schools and schooling over maintaining a good distance amongst themselves, the opposition view of gender differences in learning only gives a toll to this social disease of gender inequality.
Gender segregation must rightfully be dealt with opposition because it serves as a great propagator of gender inequality, strengthens gender myths regarding differences in the learning pattern, snatches the women right to competition and hence is detrimental to society. Therefore, coeducation must be supported so that gender integration and an ultimate success can be achieved.
In the light of above arguments, it can be rightfully discerned that in order to uproot the social vices such as gender inequality and foster a modern growth and improvement in our societies, gender segregation in schools must be opposed. Since parents form a great part of their children’s lives, they must treat their children openly and attend workshops or lectures where both can get a chance to work out the conflicts regarding this and enjoy the eventual enlightenment and benefits of it.
Should schools be segregated by gender? (n.d.). Retrieved February 08, 2018, from http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-schools-be-segregated-by-gender
Holthouse, D. (2010). Gender Segregation: Separate but Effective? Teaching Tolerence Issue
36.Retrived from: https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/spring-2010/gender-segregation-separate-but-effective
Mulchay,E.(2017). Should boys and girls be taught separately in our schools? The
Guardian ,Opinions. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/14/gender-segregation-state-schools-disaster-damage-children