Gender and Subject Choice


How are differences in Subject Choice shown?

Despite improvements to girls' achievement, theres still a traditional pattern of 'boy' and 'girl' subjects 

- Boys go for Maths            

-Girls go for Modern Languages etc

Schools reinforces gender identity in various ways - e.g pupil teacher interaction and the cirriculum

Where choice is possible, boys and girls still choose different'gender routes' and show clear differences in subject choice 

How is this shown? 

1) National Cirriculum 

2) AS and A-Levels

3) Vocational Course 

1 of 6

Ways differences are shown - explained

1) NATIONAL CIRRICULUM OPTIONS : Stables and Wikeley (96) argue where theres a choice in cirriculum (e.g Yr 9 options) girls and boys will choose differenlty 

E.g D&T is a compulsory subject but girls tend to choose food tech and boys tend to choose res mat 

2) AS and A-LEVELS: Greater freedom of choice = greater gender differences in exam entries

These are mirrored at University 

E.g In 2007  - Physics (male 78%) (female 22%)  

                    Sociology (male 24%) (female 76%) 

3) VOCATIONAL COURSES :  Prep you for specific careers - gender segregation is very noticable (E.h only 1/100 construction apprentices are girls) 

2 of 6

1) Early Socialisation

OAKLEY - We learn our gender roles through socialisation and learning the expected behaviour                       of males and females in socie

NORMAN - Early Socialisation shapes gender identity as from an early age, boy and girls are                          dressed differently etc. Parent reward boys for being ACTIVE and girls for being                            PASSIVE 

MURPHY AND ELWOOD - Boys and girsl develope dif tastes in reading which contribute to subject                                         choice. Boys read hobby books and facts, girls read books about people                                         - so, boys go for science and girls go for English 

BROWNE AND ROSS - (gender domains) boys and girls interpret tasks differently. If seen as part                                       of their GD or 'territory' they will do better. E.g maths q - girls more                                               confident if about food or health and boys more confident if about cars 

     Socialisation and Subject choice:  Only Normal Mums Bake 

3 of 6

2) Gendered Subject Images

Gender image a subject gives off will affect who is going to chose it in the first place.                                                                                                                           Some subjects are seen as 'boys' or 'girls' subjects to begin with. 

       KELLY -

  • Science is seen as a boys subject.                                                                      
  • Why? science teachers are more likley to be men        
  • boys monopolise the apparatus and dominate the lab                  
  • Textbooks use examples that draw on boys interests not girl                                          COLLEY -
  • Computer studies is seen as a masculine subject.                              
  • Why? Working with machines (seen as a part of the male gender domain
  • Tasks abstract; fewer opportunities for group work                                                              LEONARD -
  • study of 13,000 individuals                                                                        
  •   She found that girls in girls schools are more likely to take maths  A level  + boys in boys schools are more likely to take English or                                     Modern Languages
4 of 6

3) Peer Pressure

Paetcher - because pupils see sport as a male choice, girls have to deal with having an image outside of their conventional gender domain. Girls more likley to drop out of sport bc of this

Dewar - males would call girls 'lesbian' or 'butch' if they appeared more sporty than males

5 of 6

4) Gendered Career Opportunities

Employement is highly gendered: jobs sex-types as 'mens' or 'womens' - affects what jobs are acceptable to do.

Over half of all womens jobs fall under CLERICAL, CATERING, CARE 

.. only 1/6 of men work in these jobs. 

6 of 6


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Education resources »