Is Single-Sex Education Inherently Unequal?

Posted: 20 Jan 2004


This Essay reviews Rosemary C. Salomone, Same Different, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling (New Haven: Yale University Press 2003). Professor Salomone, a leading education law scholar, advances an argument that supports publicly-funded single-sex schooling on constitutional, statutory, and policy grounds. Paradoxically, Professor Salomone notes that in certain circumstances single-sex schooling options can enhance rather than degrade equal educational opportunity, especially for (but not necessarily limited to) low-income and minority girls. Part I considers how single-sex schooling forces constitutionalists and feminists to confront anew the complicated and dynamic equal educational opportunity doctrine. The implications of the Supreme Court's VMI decision for the recently created Young Women's Leadership School, serving low-income minority girls in East Harlem, receive particular attention. Drawing on the structure of Salomone's argument, Part II assesses how Salomone's use of social science evidence informs her legal and policy analyses and arcs back to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Part III places the prospect of single-sex education within the larger education reform context. Owing in part to fundamental shifts in education reform policy, in conclusion I consider whether the legal and political fate of all-girls' schools might be inexorably tied to the legal and political fate of all-boys' schools.

Keywords: Constitution, education, public policy, law and social science, equal education

Suggested Citation

Heise, Michael, Is Single-Sex Education Inherently Unequal?. Available at SSRN: or

Michael Heise (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

308 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-0069 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

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