If thoughts of an all-girls’ school conjure up images of French cartoon Madeline “all in a line” or – far worse – the unruly St Trinian’s, then we’re happy to assure you that the truth is far from either of those scenarios. Today’s all-girl schools are all about raising confident, independent women skilled for future careers. When choosing which school might be the best fit for your child, here are some benefits of an all-girls’ education to consider.
An all-girls school provides an environment where girls don’t have to compete with boys for recognition or attention or feel held back by gender bias. They are challenged to reach their unlimited potential and discover the difference they can make without expectation to conform to gender stereotypes.
Girls are exposed to many external influences that tell them they should look, act, think or behave in a particular way that is often not in accord with their self-esteem, beliefs or physical capabilities. Educators and pastoral leaders at an all-girls school understand that and tailor lessons and activities to challenge stereotypes, empower girls, and work around friendship dynamics and body image issues to build your daughter’s confidence and self-esteem.
In a nurturing woman-centric environment, girls are encouraged to explore opportunities to study a diverse range of subjects, including those traditionally considered to be ‘boy subjects’. The Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia found that girls were more likely to study STEM subjects to a higher level, and continue with STEM into years 11 and 12, when there is no implicit expectation of competing with boys. Girls are also more likely to ask questions and offer suggestions, leading to better learning outcomes, when in an all-girls classroom.
Similarly, girls are not restricted in their choices on the sporting field. Depending on the school you choose, your daughter will be afforded the opportunity to compete in a wide variety of team and individual sports, from rowing and equestrian to AFL and cricket. As with STEM subjects, girls are more likely to continue with sports and physical activity into years 10, 11 and 12 when they don’t feel they are the subject of male observation and critique, leading to long-term healthy habits.
Whatever cultural, academic or sporting aspirations your daughter has will be supported and encouraged. Your daughter can aspire to world of interesting and exciting career opportunities when she doesn’t feel restricted by her subject choices in an all-girls’ education environment.
Girls encourage girls
The natural doubts and insecurities of teenage years are shared and understood by her peers and teachers, and with an all-girl focus your daughter can be helped to see beyond the doubts to a bright future alight with opportunities.
As girls mature into teenagers, they face many emotional and physical changes. Knowing that ALL their peers are sharing similar experiences is a comfort and support, mitigating any embarrassment or unwanted attention they might otherwise experience in the presence of boys.
An all-girls school can be a noisy place. As a parent or guardian of girls, you want them to have a voice that is heard and the confidence to use it. With the support of peers and educators your daughter will learn that she, too, can be a source of inspiration to others.
All the available leadership roles within the school will be filled by girls: house captain, chair of the debating society, team managers etc. Your daughter will learn how to take risks, step up, be heard and be a leader – all great preparation for a future career or position of responsibility.
The adult she becomes
A woman will have many roles to play and choices to make in life. Leaving school, your daughter may be focussed on pursuing a certain career path or a personal or sporting goal. At some point she may be challenged to maintain her position and relevance if motherhood beckons, and despite the best efforts of organisations and individuals, your daughter is unfortunately likely to encounter gender bias and sexism in society and the workplace.
Spending her formative years surrounded by educators that intrinsically understand what it is to be female can help her learn how to combat these added challenges and prove herself equal to her male peers.
Whatever future your daughter decides for herself, she will go forward knowing that her gender does not have to be a barrier to her independence or ability to lead. Just as she had the freedom to explore a variety of subjects and positions of authority without prejudice in school, she will have the confidence and knowledge of her self-worth to become the woman she deserves to be.
This article was featured in Issue 44 of our printed magazine, published February 2021.