Gender Differences in Achievement

Introduction

On average, girls achieve more A*-C grades at GCSE than boys, this is known as the gender gap. Both female and male achievement has improved over time but female achievement has improved at a faster rate, resulting in the gender gap increasing. Some sociologists argue that factors within schools are the main cause of gender differences in achievement while others say 'out of school factors may have a greater impact' (Item B).

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1st Internal Factor - Coursework

One factor within schools that causes gender differences in achievement is coursework. Gorard suggests that girls are better at coursework due to being 'taught' to be more organised which is due to gender role socialisation. When coursework was introduced in 1989, the gender gap increased, suggesting this is a reason for girls' achievement. This suggests that the gender differences in achievement are the result of factors within schools. However, this is criticised because girls do better in non-coursework subjects as well, suggesting that coursework isn't a reason for female achievement.

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2nd Internal Factor - Challenging Stereotypes in t

Another factor within schools that causes gender differences in achievement is challenging stereotypes in the curriculumWeiner argues that since the 80s, teachers, textbooks, etc. have challenged gender stereotypes by doing things such as having pictures of female scientists in textbooks. This suggests that the gender differences in achievement are the result of factors within schools. This helps girls to achieve more by giving them positive images of what women can do, motivating them to do well in school.

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3rd Internal Factor - Lack of male primary school

Additionally, a factor within schools that causes gender differences in achievement is the lack of male primary school teachers. Boys work better for male teachers but there are few of them in primary schools, boys lack a positive male role model. The government has tried to recruit more male teachers to address this. This suggests that factors outside of schools are the main cause of gender differences in achievement.

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1st External Factor - Changing Girls' Ambitions

However, factors outside of school also cause gender differences in achievement such as changing girls' ambitions. Sharpe interviewed schoolgirls in the 70s and in the 90s then compared their ambitions. In the 70s, girls were focused on marriage and children, in the 90s, girls were focused on getting independent careers, resulting in those girls being more motivated therefore achieving more. This suggests that out of school factors contribute to gender differences in achievement. Although, this is criticised because working class girls still have more traditional ambitions of marriage and children, causing them to choose an achievable traditional gender identity which causes them to underachieve (they don't believe they can do well in school).

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Conclusion

In conclusion, factors within schools and outside of schools both affect the gender differences in achievement. It's clear that girls are achieving more than boys, evidence to support this idea comes from girls achieving more A*-C grades at GCSE compared to boys. Factors within schools are a major cause of gender differences in achievement, coursework, challenging stereotypes and the decline in traditional male jobs all affect the gender gap; resulting in girls achieving more than boys. Not only are girls achieving more, they're achieving at a faster rate compared to boys. However, factors outside of schools also affect the gender differences in achievement, suggesting that these issues can't be ignored.

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