The value of all-girl’s schools gets debated, but some research shows they help women — as Adena Friedman says herself
Her stock is up.
Adena Friedman has quite the resume. The NASDAQ chief exec and president was the first woman ever to be named the CEO of a major U.S. stock exchange operator, a job she does while also maintaining a black belt in karate and raising a family.
One of the things she says helped propel her to where she is: attending an all-girl’s school. Speaking on CNBC’s “Life Hack’s Live” this week, Friedman says that her 10 years at a single-sex school “made a difference” helping her learn to speak her mind and pursue her passions.
“While I had a brother at home, I was able to go to a place where I could feel that I could ask any question I wanted,” said Friedman. “I could feel that it was OK to be smart, honestly, that I really loved math and science, and that I was really able to propel myself into those fields and not really have any of those sort of social pressures that sometimes co-ed environments can create.”
When Friedman went off to a co-ed college (she graduated from Vanderbilt University) she saw that women didn’t ask as men questions as much as men in class. “But I always asked a lot of questions — so I do think it [going to all all-girl’s school] actually helped me create a sense of confidence and realizing that I could be as strong and as smart as anyone else in the room,” she says.
Friedman may be onto something: Some research shows that going to an all-girl’s school benefits women. For example, a study from 2009 found that it increased women’s confidence in math and computer science; women who attended these schools also had higher average SAT scores.
But other research, including this meta-analysis of 184 studies on the topic, finds that there aren’t benefits. Hence the debate on the topic, which led the National Education Association to simply conclude: “We all can agree that we need to construct an educational environment that meets the social and intellectual needs of boys and girls.”
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