Re[2]: Opening Statement-Ellen Wahl

EWahl (
Fri, 24 Apr 1998 07:27:57 -0400


Thanks for your question. Yes it is Valerie Lee's work that found some
evidence of increased stereotyping in sex-segregated situations. It
brings up an important point, which goes back to the question of
purpose and outcomes. Who and what are you trying to change?
Stereotypes are patterned and unquestioned assumptions; if you are
simply separating by sex without explicit and deliberate attention to
identifying, examining, analyzing, and taking action to counter these
patterns, it's very easy to go on as we always have. When I was at
Girls Inc. the language we began to use about developing programs was
that they should be "intentional." You may want to look at the work
that Heather Johnston Nicholson did for the Carnegie Council on
Adolescent Development back about 1992, looking at what difference
gender makes in youth development programs. She had a useful set of
categories about the different purposes for sex segregation, phrases
like "safe haven" and "school for success." You can get a copy
through the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

So yes, it's very easy to fall into supporting the existing set of
expectations, unless you're constantly questioning and vigilant. That
reflective quality needs to inform our research, practice and policy,
because the fact is there's much more that we don't know about what
works in this area than what we do know.

Ellen Wahl

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Opening Statement-Ellen Wahl
Author: at Internet
Date: 4/22/98 12:48 PM

Hi Ellen. I found your statement very thoughtful and interesting, and I
think that AAUW's research adds a great deal to the discussion of this
issue. I have one question. I am very interested in research that I
have heard of (I believe by Valerie Lee, among others) showing that sex
stereotyping and subtle sex biases actually increase in single-sex
classrooms, and that this is true for both all-male and all-female
environments. In fact, at least as I heard it, the stereotyping and bias
is greatest in single-sex environments where the teacher is the same sex
as the students. Is this true, and what are your thoughts on the effect
of sex segregation on sex role stereotyping? Separating the sexes is
often talked about as a panacea for curing sex bias and inequities in
education, and if true, such research would shed new light on the

Deborah Brake

new message to this message