Why a Girls' School?

Marlborough is dedicated to the philosophy that academic excellence, leadership skills, and confidence flourish best in an environment exclusively devoted to the education of young women, and current research supports that belief.

The key findings of a 2009 UCLA report, "Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College," show that:

"Women who attended single-sex schools tended to outperform their co- educational counterparts"

  • Women who attended single-sex schools tended to outperform their coeducational counterparts: mean SAT composite scores (verbal plus math) were 43 points higher for female single-sex graduates in the independent school sector and 28 points higher for single-sex alumnae in the Catholic school sector.
  • Graduates of single-sex schools also enter college with greater confidence in their mathematical abilities. The gap in math confidence is most pronounced in the independent school sector, where 48% of female graduates of single-sex independent schools rate their math ability "above average" or in the "highest 10 percent," compared with 37% of independent coeducational female graduates.
  • Confidence in computer skills is also higher among female graduates of single-sex independent schools, with 36% rating themselves in the highest categories, compared with 26% of female graduates of coeducational independent schools.
  • In an indication of greater, though still low, interest in the field of engineering, alumnae of single-sex independent schools are three times more likely than those from coeducational independent schools to report that they intend to pursue a career in engineering (4.4% vs. 1.4%).Political engagement also is notably higher among female graduates of single-sex independent schools, with 58% reporting that it is "very important" or "essential" for them to keep up to date with political affairs, compared with 48% of female graduates of coeducational independent schools.
  • Graduates of single-sex schools are also more likely than their coeducational counterparts to report that there is a "very good" chance they will participate in student clubs or groups while in college:  70% of single-sex independent school alumnae anticipate involvement in campus organizations, compared with 60% of coeducational alumnae.
  • Female graduates of single-sex independent schools also show more self-confidence in public speaking, with 45% rating their public speaking ability "above average" or in the "highest 10 percent," compared with 39% of female graduates of coeducational independent high schools.


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    In addition to providing descriptive comparisons between single-sex and coeducational alumnae, the study also reports on the many ways in which the single-sex effect remains significant after accounting for key differences between these groups in terms of school characteristics (such as enrollment, location, and course offerings) and the demographic backgrounds of the women who attend all-girls schools (such as race/ethnicity, family income, and parental education).

National Coalition of Girls' Schools Research Reports

The National Coalition of Girls' Schools (NCGS) conducts research projects with academic partners, collaborates with researchers working on issues of importance to girls’ education and girls’ schools, and tracks prevailing research to keep member schools up-to-date with the latest findings. Click here to review a wide variety of reports grouped by research topic.

In a single-sex school, a girl can comprehend her value and her capabilities in ways that have nothing to do with how she looks or whom she dates. She can be free to experiment and explore, trying out new things and trying on new roles. She can follow her ambitions without wasting a second thought or a backward glance on how her male counterparts might perceive her.

National Coalition of Girls' Schools