Internal factors and gender differences in achievement

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  • Created by: jade.l.m
  • Created on: 16-03-16 18:50

Equal opportunities policies

- Policymakers are more aware of gender issues

- Teachers are more sensitive to the need to avoid stereotyping

- The belief that boys and girls have equal opportunities is now part of mainstream thinking 

- GIST and WISE encourage girls to pursue careers in non-traditional areas

- Female scientists have visited schools acting as role models 

- National curriculum (1988) made it more equal by having boys and girls study mostly the same subjects

- Boaler (1998) sees the impact of equal opportunities policies as a key reason for the changes in girls' achievement

- Many barriers have been removed and schools are more meritocratic so that girls, who generally work harder than boys, achieve more

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Positive role models in schools

- Shown by the table ( https://getrevising.co.uk/resources/refer-to-this-when-doing-internal-factors-for-gender1 ), there has been an increase in the proportion of female teachers and heads. 

- These women in senior positions may act as role models for girls, showing them that women can achieve positions of importance and giving them non-traditional goals to aim for

- Women teachers are more likely to be particularly important role models as far as girls' education achievement is concerned since, to become a teacher, the individual must undertake a lengthy and successful education herself

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GCSE and coursework

- Some sociologists say that girls are being favoured in terms of assessment

Stephen Gorard (2005) found that the gender gap was fairly consistent from 1975-1989 then increased dramatically when GCSE was introduced as well as coursework, his conclusion: the gender gap in achievement is a “product of the changed system of assessment rather than any more general failing of boys”

- Mitsos and Browne (1998) support this view and they conclude that girls are more successful in coursework because they are more conscientious and better organised: they spend more time on their work, they take more care with presentation, they are better at meeting deadlines and they bring the right equipment and materials to lesson. They say that girls benefitted from coursework due to having these traits

- Oral exams are also seen as a benefit to girls as they tend to have better developed language skills, sociologists say that these skills are due to primary socialisation

-  Jennette Elwood (2005) argues that coursework doesn't have a great impact as the exam result affects to the grade more.

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Teacher attention

-          The way teachers interact with boys and girls differs

-          Jane and Peter French (1993) analysed classroom interaction and found that boys got more attention as they attracted it more

-          Becky Francis (2011) found that boys felt picked on and had low expectations of from the teacher they were also disciplined more harshly

-          Swann (1998) found that boys dominate in class – discussion, whereas girls prefer group work and are better at listening and co-operating

-          Girls tend to allow each other to talk in groups whereas boys interrupt each other

-          This may explain why teachers respond more positively to girls which could lead to self fulfilling prophecy so they get higher grades

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Challenging stereotypes in the curriculum

-          Some sociologists argue that the removal of gender stereotypes from learning materials in previous years has improved girls’ achievement.

-          Research in the 1970’s and 80’s found that women were seen as housewives and mothers, afraid of science and less inventive than boys in textbooks and reading schemes

-          Gaby Weiner (1995) argues that since the 80’s, teachers have challenged stereotypes

-          In general, sexist images have been removed from learning materials

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Selection and league tables

-          Due to marketisation, more girls are being targeted as schools want better grades to aim higher in the league table

-          David Jackson (1998) says that league tables for exams has given girls more opportunity as they can help schools get higher

-          This tends to create a self-fulfilling prophecy as girls are more likely to be recruited by good schools and they are more likely to do well

-          Roger Slee (1998) argues that boys are less attractive to schools as this may increase behavioural issues and they are 4 times more likely to be excluded

-          Boys may be seen as ‘liability students’ that give a ‘rough, tough’ image to the school and deter girls from achieving higher


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