Research Corner: All Girls Schools Cultivate Mental Toughness

Research Corner: All Girls Schools Cultivate Mental Toughness
By Bridgette Ouimette, Strategic Initiatives & Research Director

As we approach a new school year, it is an opportunity to reflect on the myriad benefits of a single-sex education for girls. Research released in June underscores these benefits as it relates to the mental toughness of girls. The June 2021 report, sponsored by the Girls’ School Association (GSA) of the UK, is an addendum to a 2017 report which analyzed the soft skills among over 40,000 pupils from a range of schools in the UK. 

In this research, Mental Toughness was defined as, “[…] how individuals deal effectively with challenge, opportunity, stressors, and pressure…irrespective of circumstances” (Clough & Strycharczyk, 2015). 

The data collected indicates that girls in single-sex girls’ schools generally possess higher mental toughness scores than girls in coeducational schools, particularly for emotional control and confidence. This might also explain why girls in girls’ schools typically do better academically and are more likely to choose to study STEM subjects than girls in coeducational schools. Mental toughness is linked to a number of key factors, such as the ability to deal with the demands of school (St Clair-Thompson et al., 2014), as well as academic engagement, valuing schoolwork, coping effectively and thriving under pressure (Crust, 2008; St Clair-Thompson et al, 2014). 

The Mental Toughness of young people is assessed using either the MTQ48 Young Person’s Questionnaire or the Junior Mental Toughness Indicator (JMT-i).