A recent study has revealed that boys do better in school when they are taught by men and that girls do best when they are taught by women.
Thomas Dee, an associate professor of economics at Swarthmore College and visiting scholar at Stanford University, who conducted the study says that his research supports his theory - that gender matters when it comes to learning. Specifically, as he describes it, having a teacher of the opposite sex hurts a student's academic progress.
'Sex matters when it comes to learning,' the Daily Mail quoted Dee as saying.
The study comes at a time when the numbers of male teachers in schools are dwindling dramatically and concern is being expressed about the lack of male role models for boys. Roughly 80 per cent of teachers in US public schools are women.
Dee's study is based on government statistics on 25,000 children between the ages of 8 and 14, a time when the largest gaps between boys and girls’ classroom test results emerge. But Professor Dee also took into consideration a series of direct interviews with teachers and children about their school experiences.
He found that having a female teacher instead of a male teacher raised the achievement of girls and lowered that of boys in science, social studies and English.
But when a man led the class, boys did better and girls did worse. The study also found that when a woman teacher was in charge, boys were more likely to be seen as disruptive while girls were less likely to be considered inattentive or disorderly. In a class taught by a man, girls were more likely to say the subject was not useful for their future and were less likely to look forward to the class or to ask questions.
"We should be thinking more carefully about why," he said.
Dee however warns against drawing fast conclusions. He is not endorsing single-sex education - or any other policy, but hopes his work will spur more research into gender's effect and what to do about it.
'It is true that students benefit by having exposure to teachers who look like them, who can identify with their culture. But this is just one variable among others,' Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, America’s largest teachers union said.