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Girls school alumni wages

(61 Posts)
MN164 Wed 05-Nov-14 11:08:00

Education headlines regularly focus on the difference in average wages between differently educated people, usually independent vs state, sometimes other comparisons.

I haven't seen an analysis of outcomes for single sex vs co-ed.

Do girls educated in single sex schools earn more than their coeducational peers?

Perhaps that particular question would be muddled by most single sex schools being grammar, faith or independent but a good statistician should be able to normalise that effect.

Has anyone seen such analysis or evidence reported?

holeinmyheart Wed 05-Nov-14 11:22:23

I haven't seen any research concerning any differences in wages. However given the option I would and did send my girls to all girls schools. Boys are different and if allowed will get in the way of the girls learning.

MN164 Wed 05-Nov-14 11:45:14

The gender pay gap is evidence that men "get in the way" after school too.

Perhaps the evidence will show that there is no difference between school types.

Perhaps the ability to deal head on with patriarchal society from an early age will mean co-ed women earn more? Perhaps artificially protecting them from boys/men might help education all attainment but disadvantage them when competing in the workplace?

On the otherhand, perhaps women mature better and gain greater self confidence in single sex schools and that equips them to compete better?

I can see it both ways and that's why I'd find the evidence interesting and important to my (our) opinion.

titchy Wed 05-Nov-14 12:00:54

Given that higher earners generally have university degrees, unless we have single sex universities, any effect at secondary level will be lost once people enter work.

Given that women have maternity leave, and are far more likely to return to work, often after an extended break, on a part time basis, it's hardly surprising on average that women earn less.

catslife Wed 05-Nov-14 14:35:40

I found an American study which summarises "Girls who are raised Catholic, who are nonwhite, or who live in urban areas are more likely to enroll in predominately-female schools. Though women who attended these schools are no more or less likely to enter the workforce, they do earn a 19.7% higher wage than women who attended coeducational high schools. Controlling for personal characteristics as well as selection into predominately-female schools and into the workforce, the estimated wage differential falls to 12.6%." The full article has the link
It is not clear whether these women had further or higher education after school.
For the UK I have found an article about the benefits of girls attending grammar school Most grammar schools would have been single-sex. However the effect here is IMO more likely to be the result of academic selection rather than the single-sex environment.
Given that the majority of single sex schools are now in the independent sector, it may make a study of this type more difficult.

MN164 Wed 05-Nov-14 15:56:47


Thanks for both those links. The Telegraph one seems to spring from data based on tracking 1960s students at the schools in Aberdeen. It certainly points to girls doing better from "elite" schools and I think you are correct that those schools are likely to be girls, not co-ed.

However, it's quite a small study in an area with specific dynamics. The oil industry, greater focus on state system (fewer elite schools but more "concentrated" effects in smalle population).

A broader study would be great, but I suspect you are right that it hasn't been done.


TalkinPeace Wed 05-Nov-14 17:47:58

Most single sex schools are either
- private
- religious
- in London
so very hard to test a valid sample in counties where all the state schools are co-ed

Bordersmummy Wed 05-Nov-14 21:41:51

Why do you want to know?

Bordersmummy Wed 05-Nov-14 21:45:59

catslife 'schools' in the context of the American study you are talking about, means university level education.

TalkinPeace Wed 05-Nov-14 21:56:41

The American study supporting links are in fact about all girls High Schools
almost all of which are fee paying and the majority are Catholic
therefore utterly unrepresentative of the world at large

but agree
why do you want to know ?

Bordersmummy Wed 05-Nov-14 22:09:38

Sorry, I take that comment back! There are a number of women only 'schools' (of the university type) in the states. Bad assumption and apologies.

But still interested to know why you want to know.

TalkinPeace Wed 05-Nov-14 22:15:19

Perhaps that particular question would be muddled by most single sex schools being grammar, faith or independent but a good statistician should be able to normalise that effect.

No, because a good statistician would be able to see that the data set is so skewed by non school-gender factors that the comparative sample
(gels of similar background who went to coed schools with similar resources) would be impossible to identify.

Also many girls move from single sex to co-ed for 6th form (as do boys)

MN164 Thu 06-Nov-14 09:01:33

I wanted to know as part of the process of considering single sex vs co-ed for our daughter. I have read plenty of debate here and elsewhere but this particular point isn't addressed directly by evidence I've seen. Hence the question to MNers.


I'm not a stats person (although I did enjoy it at A-level so very very long ago!)

Isn't the way to do this to take the set of girls school data, realise these are mostly urban, selective schools and compare that data set with urban, selective co-ed schools?

There are plenty of both, especially faith schools. Given that selective will include not just private but also faith and grammar there will be some socioeconomic spread, albeit skewed to middle/top income.

Even though the data set would exclude many rural and non-selective schools there would be enough to establish a trend and answer the question with reasonable certainty i.e. a) there is no income difference; b) single sex educated earn more; or c) co-ed educated earn more.

I found some research (which I should have done in the first place!)

This seems to be the most comprehensive UK study. The video gives a nice summary and I've cut an extract from their non-technical study below

"*Employment outcomes*
Controlling for background variables, there was no impact of single-sex schooling on the chances of entering high status occupations – i.e. the salariat (employers, managers and professional occupations). However, girls who attended girls’ schools went on to gain higher wages than co-ed girls, conditioning on background controls.
Before controlling for background variables including school sector, it appeared that men and women from single-sex schools had a less sex-segregated experience of the labour market. However, this effect disappears once we control for school sector and other confounding variables."

What do you think?

Spindelina Thu 06-Nov-14 09:22:36

The problem with using urban, selective co-ed schools as your comparator is that the results will then only be applicable to a population of urban girls of selective ability. Which might be the population you are most interested in, from a personal point of view.

There's also the problem that you will never be able to remove the effect of non-random assignment - what is the effect of having the type of parents that choose single-sex/co-ed?

catslife Thu 06-Nov-14 09:44:45

The main problem with this study is that it was made on data collected on children born in 1958 and 1970 and it doesn't state how many children were included in this cohort and what percentage of children were followed through the whole period.
If the numbers were small it would only take a small percentage of women in highly paid jobs to distort the statisitics.
Education and schools have changed a lot since the 1950s and 1970s, but one general trend has been that the number of single-sex schools has declined and the number of co-ed schools has increased. A generation (or 2 generations) ago it was probably the case that most high achieving girls attended single sex schools (grammars in the 1950s) and a mix of grammar and independent in the 1970s but I doubt if that's the case now.
To be honest when choosing a school, I would look for one that has good educational outcomes for girls (both co-ed and single sex) you may be surprised looking at the statistics. Statistics are available that break GCSE results down by gender for individual schools.

MN164 Thu 06-Nov-14 10:21:40


They do give quite a lot of information in the full study, along with an acknowledgement that the topic is hotly debated with little data. I think this is why they have gone to such lengths ....

"The initial sample was designed to be nationally representative of all children in Britain, and achieved a sample size of 17,414 (Shepherd, 1995). By the third follow up (sweep 3), when the children were aged 16, 14,761 respondents remained in the study."

"Fifty-eight % of the NCDS respondents attended Comprehensive schools, but 11% still attended Grammar and Technical schools, 22% attended Secondary Modern schools, and 6% attended Private and Direct Grant schools. "

"We also exclude respondents lacking in information on school sector or school sex at age 16, leaving us with a sample of 12 320. Single-sex schooling was far more common than it is today."

"Previous studies of the effects of single-sex schooling have been criticised for inadequate controls for prior attainment and family background. Given the concentration of single-sex schools in the private and selective sectors, it is important to control for such sources of selectivity. The NCDS gives exceptionally rich information on various aspects of the respondents, their schools and their parents, allowing crucial confounding variables to be controlled. The parents were interviewed at the first three data collection exercises of the study, providing information on social background, parents’ age on leaving full-time education, and other characteristics."

catslife Thu 06-Nov-14 14:21:00

I would have a look at this article OP which quotes "Single-sex schools are waning in the UK. In 1966, there were 2,500; in 2006, there were just 400. According to the Department for Education, there are currently 505 all-girls schools – state and private, primary and secondary all in."

The link for the full article is

Your article doesn't address the very good point raised by Talkinpeace about schools located in London, which could distort the figures as salaries in London are higher than elsewhere in the UK.

Unless you live in London the chances of parents having a genuine choice between single sex and co-ed for their girls (or even boys) is low.
I live in a fairly large city and there is only one all girls state school which takes 120 pupils per year (there are approx 20 co-ed schools) and no all boys state school. So for most parents co-ed has to be the main choice (unless you can afford independent school fees).
Having said that whatever type of school you prefer for your child: single sex or co-ed within the state sector, you still need to meet the admissions criteria for that school. Preferring a girls school to a co-ed, by itself, would not guarantee your child a place or even win you a place on Appeal.

MN164 Thu 06-Nov-14 14:51:24

The Telegraph article contains a reference to this good research report which includes this conclusion.

"There are excellent single-sex schools and excellent co-educational schools. Our conclusion is that they are excellent for reasons other than that they separate, or bring together, the sexes for their education. "

However, it doesn't go on to compare post-educational effects like employment and wages which the longitudinal report by the IoE did.

You are right that this is a question is irrelevant to many outside the South East and not able to access the "selective sector".

Can I ask you this then? Given that there is evidence that single sex education improves later life employment and income, would you like to see more of this available as a choice to more people? Or are you against it, despite the possibility that it might enhance outcomes for women (in particular)?

catslife Thu 06-Nov-14 15:33:28

I am not against single-sex education OP. I went to an all girls school but we reached the conclusion as parents that co-ed was the best option for our daughter (and we would have chosen the co-ed option even if able to afford private school).
However I would question the evidence on improved income from such schools. For my fellow alumni this has been distorted by those who haven't had any children or who have moved to London for work.
My question to you is: if your evidence is true why are so many single sex schools converting to co-ed?
Are you sure you're not carrying out research on behalf of single sex schools for marketing purposes OP?

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Nov-14 16:48:23

I went to a GDST school : I fully understand the issue of single sex selective private education in London
my DD is at a co-ed comp
she will do far better in life than I did for reasons that random statistics will never shake out

a sister went to gels boarding school
she has achieved a lot more than me for reasons entirely unconnected with the sex and selection ratios of our schools

another sister went to co ed selective boarding school and lives on benefits

you have to choose a school based on your own child, not mangled statistics

MN164 Thu 06-Nov-14 23:46:50


You are so so so right. I will choose the best suited for her (to the best of my ability and foresight).

I think I maybe beating myself up a bit about it too much. I am aware also that this is one of those privileged, nice problems to have where we live in a city with lots of choice and where that choice is only widened by having a bright child with religious credentials and, potentially, money. It's sort of choice "nirvana". I don't expect anyone to be weeping for us as I am aware that many people don't have any choice at all.

But being blessed with such choice and my tendency for OCD means I ask questions like this that perhaps only matter at the very fine margins.

The more I think about it the more interested I am in the "feminist" dimension and the discourse around her wellbeing, happiness and confidence against the backdrop on continuing (perhaps improving) patriarchy.

Sorry to other posters if I challenge responses, I play "devil's advocate" too much too .....

TalkinPeace Fri 07-Nov-14 18:35:31

You have to stop thinking of your child as a girl or a boy
and just view them as a future highly successful person
they may turn out scientific or arty or want to live in a commune and grow fruit
you cannot control that

what you CAN do is provide them with support and confidence.

Personally I am anti religious schools
and having seen how much more balanced my children are in co-ed than I and my siblings were (I have brothers as well) in single sex
its a simple choice for me

then again London schools are a whole exciting ball game !

MN164 Sat 08-Nov-14 08:33:20


Yes, of course. We try hard to keep gender out of family life and we try to balance an egalitarian household.

The rest of the world, including peers, primary school, media, commerce, university, and the working world do not ignore gender. That's the problem which the choices we make might help with.

Perhaps the best we can do is led from homelife, but I can't help feeling that this dimension of school life is important - although I concede that plenty of research indicates its not.

TalkinPeace Sat 08-Nov-14 13:04:16

Your actions speak louder than your words though.
I have a girl and a boy
It would never occur to me to even look up such research.
I just expect them each to do their best.

catslife Sat 08-Nov-14 19:41:00

Agree with talkinpeace interesting as your research is I wouldn't choose a school (of any type) based on future earnings potential. I would choose the school that best met my child's abilities, interests and needs (both academic and social).
One of my female friends chose to read medicine at university based on her research that this degree led to the highest future salaries. She didn't manage to complete the course.
Some single sex schools only reinforce existing gender stereotypes OP. At one independent school we visited (which was converting to co-ed) the Head said that one change needed when boys started would be that they would have to introduce football onto the curriculum because "girls don't play football". My dd does play football and that comment immediately crossed that school off our list!
Hope that helps with your decision.

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