By Emily Pfeiffer '17
I love my school. That being said, usually when I tell people that I go to an all-girls school, I get some odd reactions. They range from the confused "Why?" to the (misplaced) sympathetic "That must be so difficult!" Why do people react like this?
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the ideology and culture that makes up an all-girls school. So, I decided to take a look at some of the most common fallacies, measuring how true their assessment is of a single-sex education.
By attending an all-girls school, girls lack the social skills to communicate with the opposite gender later in life.
This myth is incredulous for a variety of reasons. As an all-girls school student, I don't speak some obscure foreign language that is impossible for males to understand. Being at the Jo does not mean you are in some sort of bubble in which no guy ever comes across your path.
The Jo encourages its students to become involved in service and leadership organizations that are co-ed and extend beyond the school. From the school's participation in Chicago Ideas Week to Model UN Conferences, there are plenty of opportunities to talk to people of the opposite gender. In fact, attending an all-girls school has enhanced my ability to converse with others. I used to stay quiet in a discussion or decision, but now I make myself known as someone who has valuable things to say and insights to share.
Since there are no boys, nobody wears makeup.
This is the exact reason why all-girls schools are such good incubators for positive self-esteem. The assumption that the only reason girls "try" is because of the presence of males is ridiculous at best. One of the best parts of being at the Jo is that you can wear makeup or not wear makeup, and no one is going to call you out on your decision. You can wear a full face because you want to, and it makes you feel good about yourself. You can also go without any because maybe you are running late, or want to spend that time studying for that big math test, or just do not enjoy wearing makeup. There is no requirement or pressure to lean either way, and your classmates will compliment you no matter what you choose to do.
No one wants to wear a uniform.
Yes, you have to wear a uniform, but there are so many perks to it. I spent 20 to 30 minutes staring at my closet for the perfect outfit to wear back in my public, co-ed school days. With a uniform, I get to sleep longer (always a plus), and I don't have to worry about exhausting my closet in an attempt to find a completely new outfit every day. On top of that, we have out-of-uniform days, which are treasured, and happen more often than you might think. At the Jo, you get to dress down on your birthday, and there are other out-of-uniform days sprinkled throughout the year. In addition, for spirit days, you get to wear jeans with the Jo's super cool spirit wear.
All-girls schools are riddled with drama.
It is not until you attend an all-girls school that you realize that the majority of conflict in high school is centered around boys. There will always be small misunderstandings or arguments between friends, but this complete myth wrongly asserts that we lose our minds when its just us girls. Males do not moderate the behavior of females, and without boys, we do not lose all sense of propriety. Our sisterhood as a school only strengthens us, and the sense of mutual motivation and support is stronger as a result.
There is no benefit to attending an all-girls school.
Dr. Gerald Eisenkopf et al. proposes that single-sex education has positive effects on the self-confidence and self-evaluation of skills in girls, specifically with skills pertaining to math. Even before that, Dr. Katherine Bradley's findings indicated that single-sex classes for females improve reading and math abilities.
Personally, I believe I have only gained from attending an all-girls school. Because of my time at the Jo, I am applying to colleges of the highest national caliber, something I thought was out of my reach at my old public, co-ed high school.
I have found direction toward my future career path and received care from a faculty that takes the time to get to know each student and make her recognize her self-worth. The Jo truly embodies a spirit of unlimited potential and, in my opinion, it has stemmed from the focus on providing a quality education for girls, which defies all the urban legends.
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Eisenkopf, G., Hessami, Z., Fischbacher, U., & Ursrung, H. (2011). Academic performance and single-sex schooling: evidence from a natural experiment in Switzerland. CESIFO Working Paper No. 3592. Retrieved from Centre for Economic Studies website: http://www.cesifo.org
Bradley, K. (2009). An investigation of single-sex education and its impact on academic achievement, discipline referral frequency, and attendance for first and second grade public school students. Ph.D. dissertation, Mercer University, United States — Georgia. Retrieved September 20, 2010, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text. (Publication No. AAT 3374139).