Does Gender-Based Education Work?



For most school kids in Massachusetts, summer is pretty much over. And many parents have set their sights back on their childrens’ education. Some may be considering all-boys or all-girls schools for their son or daughter.

Gender-based teaching is a particularly powerful trend in education right now. You’ve probably heard about some of the research around it — that boys and girls have different brains, that they learn differently.

In fact, the research has become so persuasive in educational circles that some schools are experimenting with separating boys and girls into separate classrooms. Those schools that have tried it say it helps everyone learn better.

Gender scholars Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett call it something else entirely — the new segregation.

Rivers and Barnett, co-authors of “The Truth about Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children,” say that all the academic hype about the sexes being different is hurting both boys and girls at school.

We also get the teacher’s perspective from Karmala Sherwood of the Smith Leadership Academy of Dorchester, which is a co-educational school that separates the boys and girls for math and science classes.


  • Rosalind Barnett, senior scientist, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University; co-author, “The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children”
  • Caryl Rivers, professor, College of Communication, Boston University; co-author, “The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children”
  • Karmala Sherwood, executive director, Smith Leadership Academy/li>


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Host Meghna Chakrabarti introduces us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and brings us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m.

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