External factors & gender differences in achievement


Impact of Feminism

  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • Abortion Reform Act 1969
  • Divorce Reform Act 1970
  • These change are also reflected in media images & messages - McRobbie's study compared girls mags in 70s which emphasised importance of getting married and 'not being left on the shelf' whereas in 1994 they contained images of assertive, independent women
  • These changes encouraged by feminism may have gone some way to affect girls' self-image & ambitions with regard to family & careers - in turn this may explain improvements in their ed achievement
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Changes in the family

  • More female headed households (due to increase in divorce, cohabitation, reduction in 1st marriages)
  • Therefore more women are main breadwinners - role models for girls - financially independent women - well paid jobs - good qualifications
  • Increase in divorce rate - can't rely on husbands to provide - encourages girls to be financially independent
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Changes in women's employment

  • 1970 Equal Pay Act = illegal to pay women less than men for work of equal value
  • 1975 Sex Discrimination Act = outlaws sex discrimination in employment
  • Women in employment has risen from 47% in 1959 -> 67% in 2013 (rise in part-time & flexible work)
  • Since 1975, pay gap between men & women has fallen from 30% -> 15%
  • Some women are breaking through the 'glass ceiling' & taking up high-professional managerial jobs
  • Has encouraged girls to see their future as paid work not housewives 
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Girls changing ambitions

  • Sue Sharpe - interviewed girls in 70s whose priorities were: 'love, marriage, husbands, children, career' - they saw educational success & ambition as unfeminine & unattractive - girls she interviewed in 90s had different order of priorities 'careers & financial independence' rather than dependent on their husband & his income
  • O'Conner's 2006 study of 14-17 year olds found that marriage & children were not major part of their life plans
  • Fuller's 2011 study of girls found they saw ed success as central aspect of their identity - they were creators of their own future & aimed for professional career that would enable them to support themselves - these aspirations clearly require qualifications
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