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Assess the view that gender differences in achievement are largely the result of changes in the education system

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Introduction

´╗┐Using information from Item A and elsewhere assess the view that gender differences in achievement are largely the result of changes in the education system (20 marks). Since the early 1990?s, girls have begun to outperform boys at most levels of the education system. According to Pirie in Item A, the modular courses and continuous assessment found in education today has been seen to favour the systematic approach of girls, compared to the old O level exam which typically favoured boys. These changes within the education system are seen as the main result of gender differences in education, nevertheless, external factors such as the impact of feminism and changes in the job market may also have influenced the increase in girl?s attainment. Firstly, it may be argued that the way pupils are assessed has favoured girls and disadvantaged boys. Gorard found that the gender gap in achievement was stable from 1975 up until 1988 when it increased rapidly. ...read more.

Middle

This may result in boys feeling picked on in school which may result in gender and ethnic differences in attainment. On the other hand, many sociologists have expressed the importance of external factors in influencing gender differences in attainment. Feminism is a social movement that strives for equality in society for men and women. It has questioned the typical role of males and females in society and challenges the role of women being the housewife. The feminist movement has had a great influence in improving girls? self-esteem and aspirations. Sue Sharpe?s? study supports this view, her study of girls in the 1970?s and 1990?s shows the impact that the feminist movement has had a girls aspirations. In the 1970?s girls priorities in life were love, marriage and husbands, when she conducted this study again in the 1990?s she found that there was a big shift in priorities, these girls were now more concerned with gaining a career and being able to look after themselves. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Item A may suggest that gender differences in education are a result of changing factors within the education system, although it may also be seen that both internal and external factors influence educational attainment of both girls and boys. Girls may be improving at a faster rate than boys but the performance of both sexes has improved considerably in recent years. In addition, boys may now be seen to be lagging behind girls but boys today are achieving more than they did in the past. Furthermore, McVeigh argues that the similarities in girls? and boys? achievement are far greater than the differences, especially when compared with class and ethnic patterns in achievement. Girls and boys of the same social class tend to achieve fairly similar results, whereas a boy from the middle class will tend to achieve higher than a girl from a working class background. Although gender does have an influence on educational attainment we must not exclude the impact that class and ethnicity has on educational attainment. ...read more.

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