Education and Gender

  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 10-04-14 20:05

Reasons some boys underachieve

  • Mitsos and Browne(1998) - not regarded as masculine to achieve/work hard. Boys who do so risk losing popularity. Teachers expect and tolerate lower standard of work+behaviour from boys = self-fulfilling prophecy
  • boys mature later and over-estimate abilities so ill-prepared for exams
  • many boys dislike reading - acquire language skills more slowly
  • w/c boys discouraged by decline in male occupations - whereas service industry required feminine communication skills expanded
  • 'crisis in masculinity' as males lost incentive to get qualifications and become breadwinner
  • Cardyn Jackson(2006) - pressure to succeed in competitive job market lead less confident boys to opt out of possible failure by appearing not to try - fatalism
  • messing around in school provides excuse for failure - result in greater popularity than being a nerd or geek - m/c boys use facilities at home to catch up - w/c cannot.
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other explanations

  • parents encourage outdoor games for boys instead of reading etc.
  • Dennis Molfesse - girls have greater ability to distinguish sounds, put them ahead in reading/writing
  • boys have shorter attention spans
  • boys have greater trouble organising time - girls rolemodel = mothers who experience triple shift: domestic, care, work
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Girls underachievement in the past

  • late 1980's girls dropping out at min age doing fewer A-levels
  • Anne oakley(1974) - parents canalised children into different roles - gave girls miniature kitchen equipment limiting horizons
  • patriarchal attitudes to careers - Douglas(1960) - families gave financial prio to son's education. Girls discouraged from long courses as married early. Stanworth(1983) teachers expected brightest girls to be secretaries at best
  • Ideology of romance - Sue Sharpe/Angel Mcrobbie(1970's) - prio's of w/c teenage girls = early marriage + child bearing
  • school curriculum - girls led in to non academic subjects and dropped sciences
  • teachers' attitudes to girls - Michelle Stanworth, Dale Spender, Jane French, all found teachers gave less attention to girls in class. Licht and Dwech(1987) girls less confident avoided challenges.
  • Hidden Curriculum - teaching materials presented stereotypical roles. (Alison Kelly 1985) science books showed boys handling apparatus. Lesley Best(1992) - studied 132 pre-school readers, found stereotypical gender roles in stories - three times more heroes than heroines.
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differences in performance

  • recent years girls outperformed boys in key stage assesments and exams at primary+secondary exams
  • 2010-11 61.9% girls recieved 5+ A*-C grades GCSE including English and Maths, boys 54.6%
  • 2011 A levels, A*'s same, but higher percentage girls got A,B,C grades and higher % boys attained D,E,U grades
  • more girls than boys study undergraduate/higher degrees


  • higher level attainment for girls but boys not failing, they are improving - girls just overtaking
  • figures vary on social class - many w/c girls fail
  • gender gap varies with ethnicity, narrower between white groups than others
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reasons girls' attainment has improved

  • feminism changed attitudes. T.N Basit(1996) - Asian+Muslim girls encouraged by parents to become lawyers, doctors etc. Sue Sharpe(1990) teen girls less like to marry/child rear.
  • Equal Pay Act(1970), Sex Discrimination Act(1975) - female careers more feasible - longer education + training worthwhile
  • contraceptive pill - children later + smaller families
  • growth single parenthood made women realise they need to be economically independent. Attitude prevelant among black girls
  • subject choices at school equal - Girls into science and technology(GIST), women into science and engineering, girls in Aerospace and computer clubs
  • teaching materials rarely represent gender stereotypes
  • building many universities 1960's + student grants encouraged many m/c girls to go uni. result = more female teachers, encouraged girls to be ambitious. Madeleine Arnot, (1999) - dispelled myth clever girls not attractive to men
  • teachers trained to avoid gender labelling and all schools have equal opportunity and inclusion opportunities. 
  • Girls gained confidence in own potential
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helpful studies/dates/fact/figures for evaluation

  • (Arnot) - many boys and girls leave school without qualifications
  • (Louise Archer) - many girls jeopardise success by spending too much time on appearance
  • (Cardyn Jackson, 2006) - laddettes model themselves on macho boys and reject school values
  • w/c girls choose feminine courses - poorly paid care/domestic fields
  • 2007-8 A levels more boys studying business, engineering, technology, physical & computer sciences, maths. more girls studying education, social sciences and languages. medicine, vetinary, dentistry, law more females.
  • Mac and Ghaill(1994) - schools become more masculine since education reforms of 1980's encouraged emphasis on ICT and technology - described Parnell School as dominated by 'new entrepreneurs' - male heads department who focused training students in new technology and business. subjects favoured by girls, female teachers were marginalised
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