All-Girls Education

Facts & Research

Girls in all-girls schools perform better than girls in co-ed schools, regardless of socio-economic and ability levels.1 As Pittsburgh’s only age 3 to grade 12 independent school for girls, The Ellis School understands girls’ education better than any other school in our region.

A study by the National Institute of Health shows that the brain develops in a different sequence and pace in girls than in boys.2 Specifically, according to researchers at Virginia Tech, the area of “the brain involved in language and fine motor skills matures about six years earlier in girls than in boys” and “the areas of the brain involved in math and geometry mature about four years earlier in boys than in girls.”3 This helps explain why girls do better in schools that truly understand how girls learn.

A peer reviewed study by UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies found that girls in single-sex schools have greater confidence in their mathematics and computer abilities.4

Girls in girls-only schools don’t just feel better: they perform better. Girls’ school students study longer. They are more likely to pursue careers in engineering, to engage in political discussions, to keep current with political affairs, and to see college as a stepping stone to graduate school. A three-year project by Stetson University in Florida found that the percentage of students scoring proficient on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) increased dramatically from 59% for girls in co-ed classes to 75% for girls in girls-only classes.5 Girls in girls-only schools are also 40% more likely to take advanced science courses than girls of comparable abilities at co-ed schools.6

Girls’ schools provide confidence and competence that lasts far beyond the classroom, extending into life after college. A London University School of Education study of women in their 40s found that women who graduated from girls’ schools had higher incomes than those who went to co-ed schools.7

At all-girls schools, “girls are encouraged to take academic and learning risks in terms of leadership. It’s a comfortable place to learn from risk taking, to make public mistakes, and to learn and grow personally and academically from them.”8 By taking intellectual risks, girls discover hidden talents and work harder at what’s difficult rather than just sticking with subjects in which they excel. Ellis is a culture in which girls see their peers taking risks, making mistakes, trying again, and succeeding at the highest levels. By example, older girls show younger girls that it’s great to excel in reading, math, art, and athletics.

Girls' School Advantage: By The Numbers

  1. The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. “The benefits of attending a Girls’ School- Section Three.”   
  2. Rhoshel K. Lenroot, et al. “ Sexual dimorphism of brain developmental trajectories during childhood and adolescence.” 2007. Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health.
  3. National Association for Single Sex Public Schools. “Computers, Brains, and Gender Equity.” 
  4. Linda J. Sax, et. Al. “Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in Their Characteristics and the Transition to College.
  5. Single-gender classes score success in Stetson, public school experiment.  
  6. National Association for Single Sex Public Schools. “Single-sex classes increase girls’ participation in physics, computer science, etc.” 
  7. BBC News. “Girls’ School Women ‘Earn More.’” September 22, 2006. 
  8. Sheila Riley. “A Conversation with Meg Moulton, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools” March 2, 2009.