Investigating Pupils’ Perception of Equality for Women and Girls at Single-Sex Schools

Donna Stevens, GSA’s CEO, comments:

“It’s no surprise to me that our girls are alive to the world and its inequities for women and girls, or that our schools act as a powerful counterpoint and example to the world of how a fair and just experience for girls can be lived. Girls’ Schools Association and its Heads have always been at the forefront of understanding girls’ experiences, honouring who they are as they are, empowering them to challenge the status quo, so that they can raise the bar for every girl in the world. Educational leadership in schools that prepare girls for an unequal world serves to create citizens with agency and chutzpah to change the world for the better. Our mission is to fuel future generations with an education that understands and is built for young women, and through our research we listen carefully and closely to girls and deliver on our promise to give them voice and priority in education, and in the word beyond.”


Fionnuala Kennedy, Head at Wimbledon High School GDST, adds:

“Those of us privileged to work in girls’ schools know how conversations about equality amongst our students are more often than not outward facing – our girls and young women care deeply not just about what happens to their friends and peers, but about the inequalities that women and girls encounter across the board. In any GSA member school, lively debates about intersectionality, or about the challenges women face in other countries no doubt abound. This focus for the GSA Research Partnership is therefore most welcome as we collectively look to effect change for the future.”


Data show that:

  • 80% of all pupils surveyed said they had been taught about equality for women and girls at school.
  • 82% of pupils responded to say they did have adults they could talk to about these issues.
  • Pupils in year 5 felt their school had covered the topic of equality for women and girls better than other year groups. 68.6% of year 5 pupils thought their school covered the topic “well” or very well”, demonstrating how understanding is seeded at a young age through age appropriate teaching
  • Pupils’ perception of equality for women and girls decreases by age: between year 5 and year 13, there was a reduction of 19.8% in perceptions towards equality.
  • 74% of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that they did have the tools, resources and support they need to be able to teach pupils about equality for women and girls.
  • 76.2% also agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I actively challenge gendered language for women and girls and behaviour among pupils”.
  • 39.6% of pupils agreed or strongly agreed that their gender influences what people think about them.
  • This compares to 16.3% of pupils who agreed or strongly agreed that their gender impacts the activities that pupils are offered at school.
  • Pupils felt, on average, that activities outside of school (2.65 out of 5) were 12.5% more affected by their gender, than those inside of school (2.15 out of 5).


About ImpactEd Evaluation

ImpactEd Evaluation is a social enterprise that exists to improve pupil outcomes by addressing the evaluation deficit in education. They help schools and education organisations to measure their impact so they can focus on what is working best to improve outcomes for young people.


Owen Carter, Co-Founder and Director at ImpactEd Group, comments:

“We have been delighted to again work with the Girls’ Schools Association, reaching over 9000 pupils and 500 teachers to deliver this research. The report sheds light on GSA pupils’ perception of equality for women and girls and how age and other demographics may affect this perception. Teachers’ perspectives give context to how this issue is already being engaged with at school, as well as suggesting areas in which teachers feel they would benefit from further support. We hope that this information will support schools in considering how best to support teachers and their pupils on this topic in the future.”


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