Gender differences in education: a summary

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  • Gender differences in achievement
    • The gender gap
      • On starting school: in 2013, at the end of year 1, girls were ahead of boys by 7-17 %age points. DfE (2013) study found in state primary schools boys are 2 1/2x more likely to have statements of special educational needs
        • At key stages 1 to 3: girls do consistently better than boys, especially in English
    • External factors
      • Sue Sharpe's interviews (1994) display girls' changing ambitions. Beck and Beck-Gernsheim (2001) link this to individualisation. Carol Fuller (2011): educational success is now a central aspect of girls' identities
      • Changes in the family: increases in the divorce rate, cohabitation and the number of lone-parent families, as well as smaller families
      • Changes in women's employment: 1970 Equal Pay Act, halving of pay gap to 15% since '75, rise from 53% in '71 to 67% in 2013 in women in employment
      • Angela McRobbie's (1994) study of girls' magazines displays the impact of feminism
    • Internal factors
      • Gaby Weiner (1995): since the '80s, teachers have challenged stereotypes in the curriculum
      • Stephen Gorard (2005) found: the gender gap was fairly constant from '75 until '89 (the year GCSE's, and with them coursework, were introduced). Eirene Mitsos and Ken Browne (1998): girls are more conscientious and better organised
      • From 1992 to 2012, the number of female headteachers in nurseries and primary schools has increased from 50 to 71. In secondary schools, 22 to 37.
      • Jane and Peter French (1993): boys receive more classroom attention. Becky Francis (2001): boys are disciplined more harshly. Swann (1998): gender differences in communication styles
      • Jo Boaler (1998) sees equal opportunities policies such as GIST and WISE as a key factor
      • David Jackson (1998): exam league tables improve opportunities for girls. Roger Slee (1998): boys are less attractive because they are 4x more likely to be excluded
    • Identity, class and girls' achievement (Archer et al (2010))
      • By performing W/C identities, girls gain symbolic capital from their peers. However this brings them into conflict with their school
        • The constructing hyper-heterosexual identities clashes with school, showing that the 'ideal female pupil' is a de-sexualised, M/C one
        • Boyfriends lead to losing interest in university and 'masculine' subjects, instead aspiring to settle down, have children and work locally in W/C feminine jobs
        • W/C girls are outspoken, independent and assertive, which conflicts with the idea of an ideal female pupil being passive and submissive to authority, leading teachers to interpret them as agressive
      • Even those W/C girls who are educationally successful are disadvantaged
        • Sarah Evans (2009) found: girls want to go to university to increase their earning power for their families
          • Skeggs (1997): 'caring' is a crucial part of W/C girl identity
        • Archer (2010): a preference for the local is a key feature of W/C habitus
  • Yougov (2007): 39% 8-11 y/o have no lessons with a male teacher, yet 42% said it would make them work harder
    • Barbara Read (2008) identifies 2 types of language that teachers use to express disapproval of pupils' work or behaviour: a discipliniarian discourse and a liberal discourse
    • Becky Francis (2006) found: 2/3 7-8 y/o believe that the gender of a teacher does not matter
    • Jones (2006): male teachers have a 1/4 chance of gaining a headship, whereas women only have 1/13
    • Boys and achievement
      • DCSF (2007): the gender gap is mainly a result of boys' poor literacy and language skills
      • Mitsos and Browne: the decline in heavy industries has led to an 'identity crisis for men'
      • Tony Sewell (BBC, 2006): boys fall behind because education has become 'feminised'
      • Debbie Epstein (1998) found: W/C boys were likely to be harassed, labelled as sissies and subjected to homophobic verbal abuse if they appeared to be 'swots'
        • Francis (2001) found: boys were more concerned about being labelled by peers as swots because it was a threat to their masculinity
      • Jessica Ringrose (2013): these views have contributed to a moral panic about 'failing boys', which ignores the problem of disadvantaged W/C and EM pupils and other problems faced by girls in schools
        • Audrey Osler (2006): the focus on underachieving boys has led to a neglect of girls
      • Gender differences in achievement
        • The gender gap
          • On starting school: in 2013, at the end of year 1, girls were ahead of boys by 7-17 %age points. DfE (2013) study found in state primary schools boys are 2 1/2x more likely to have statements of special educational needs
            • At key stages 1 to 3: girls do consistently better than boys, especially in English
        • External factors
          • Sue Sharpe's interviews (1994) display girls' changing ambitions. Beck and Beck-Gernsheim (2001) link this to individualisation. Carol Fuller (2011): educational success is now a central aspect of girls' identities
          • Changes in the family: increases in the divorce rate, cohabitation and the number of lone-parent families, as well as smaller families
          • Changes in women's employment: 1970 Equal Pay Act, halving of pay gap to 15% since '75, rise from 53% in '71 to 67% in 2013 in women in employment
          • Angela McRobbie's (1994) study of girls' magazines displays the impact of feminism
        • Internal factors
          • Gaby Weiner (1995): since the '80s, teachers have challenged stereotypes in the curriculum
          • Stephen Gorard (2005) found: the gender gap was fairly constant from '75 until '89 (the year GCSE's, and with them coursework, were introduced). Eirene Mitsos and Ken Browne (1998): girls are more conscientious and better organised
          • From 1992 to 2012, the number of female headteachers in nurseries and primary schools has increased from 50 to 71. In secondary schools, 22 to 37.
          • Jane and Peter French (1993): boys receive more classroom attention. Becky Francis (2001): boys are disciplined more harshly. Swann (1998): gender differences in communication styles
          • Jo Boaler (1998) sees equal opportunities policies such as GIST and WISE as a key factor
          • David Jackson (1998): exam league tables improve opportunities for girls. Roger Slee (1998): boys are less attractive because they are 4x more likely to be excluded
        • Identity, class and girls' achievement (Archer et al (2010))
          • By performing W/C identities, girls gain symbolic capital from their peers. However this brings them into conflict with their school
            • The constructing hyper-heterosexual identities clashes with school, showing that the 'ideal female pupil' is a de-sexualised, M/C one
            • Boyfriends lead to losing interest in university and 'masculine' subjects, instead aspiring to settle down, have children and work locally in W/C feminine jobs
            • W/C girls are outspoken, independent and assertive, which conflicts with the idea of an ideal female pupil being passive and submissive to authority, leading teachers to interpret them as agressive
          • Even those W/C girls who are educationally successful are disadvantaged
            • Sarah Evans (2009) found: girls want to go to university to increase their earning power for their families
              • Skeggs (1997): 'caring' is a crucial part of W/C girl identity
            • Archer (2010): a preference for the local is a key feature of W/C habitus
  • Eileen Byrne (1979): teachers encourage boys to be tough and not weak, and girls quiet, helpful, clean and tidy
    • Patricia Murphy and Jannette Elwood (1998): boys read hobby books and information texts, whilst girls are more likely to read stories about people
      • Naima Browne and Carol Ross (1991): children's beliefs about 'gender domains' are shaped by their early experiences and expectations of adults
        • Patricia Murphy (1991): boys and girls pay attention to different details even when tackling the same task
    • Fiona Norman (1988): from an early age, boys and girls are dressed differently, given different toys etc.
      • Gender and subject choice
        • Gendered subject choices become more noticeable after 16, when students have more choice. The Institute of Physics (2012) found: the proportion of physics students who are girls has been 'stubbornly consistent' at around 20% for 20 years
        • Vocational courses: only 1/100 childcare apprentices is a boy
        • Where there is a choice in the NC, girls and boys choose differently
        • Anne Colley (1998): computer studies are seen as masculine to study because they involve working with machines and the way they are taught is off-putting to females
          • Diana Leonard (2006) found, when analysing data on 13 000 individuals, that girls in girls' schools were more likely to study maths and science, and boys in boys' schools English and languages
            • The Institute of Physics: girls in single-sex state schools are 2.4x more likely to study A-level physics
        • Carrie Paechter (1998) found: because pupils see sport as mainly within the male domain, girls who are 'sporty' have to cope with an image that contradicts the female stereotype
          • Alison Dewer (1990) found: male students would call girls 'lesbian' or 'butch' if they appeared to be interested in sport
        • Over half of all women's employment falls within: clerical, secretarial, personal services and occupations such as cleaning
  • Pupils' sexual and gender identities
    • Sue Lees (1993) identifies a double standard of sexual morality
    • Epstein and Willis show: boys in anti-school subcultures often accuse boys who want to do well at school of being gay or effeminate
      • Martin Mac an Ghaill (1994) examines how peer groups reproduce a range of different class-based masculine gender identities
        • Redman and Mac an Ghaill (1997) found: the dominant definition of masculine identity changes from that of macho lads in the lower school to that of the real Engishmen in the 6th form
    • Mac an Ghaill sees the male gaze as a form of surveillance through which dominant heteroexual masculinity is reinforced and femininity devalued

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