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GENDER AND DIFFERENTIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN EDUCATION

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Introduction

GENDER AND DIFFERENTIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN EDUCATION In the past, education was almost always for boys; the education of girls was restricted in many ways. The early public schools were for boys only; the first public schools were for girls, such as Cheltenham Ladies College, were founded in the mid-nineteenth century. Following the education act of 1870, most girls and boys went to mixed elementary schools, but most secondary schools were single sex until the 1960's. In the tripartite system of secondary education for all established by the 1944 education act, there were fewer places for girls in grammar schools, and girls needed higher scores in the eleven plus test to get into a grammar school. Before the national curriculum girls tended to study subjects that would prepare them for their future roles as housewives and mothers. Subjects such as science were irrelevant to them. The introduction of the national curriculum saw girls become entitled to equal access to all subjects. Until then, many girls had dropped science subjects (especially physics and chemistry) ...read more.

Middle

The result of this is that boys have fewer role models among teachers and these are likely to be senior staff. While girls have more role models, in many schools female teachers are noticeably missing from certain subject areas, especially science and technology. Another factor is what goes on inside the classroom. Teachers give boys and girls different kinds of attention (Spender 1983). Girls are praised for appearance, good behaviour and neatness of work, but these qualities are valued less highly than what is seen as individuality and creativity in boys. Girls tend to be more conformist in school. While this may be approved of by teachers, it can also be taken as evidence of limited or average ability. Boys are more likely to take risks in their work; poor work is taken as evidence of laziness, not lack of ability, and occasional success or effort as being evidence of being a 'bright spark'. This contributes to the self - perception of boys and girls; boys tend to overestimate their abilities, girls to underestimate theirs. ...read more.

Conclusion

While this may be approved of by teachers, it can also be taken as evidence of limited or average ability. Boys are more likely to take risks in their work; poor work is taken as evidence of laziness, not lack of ability, and occasional success or effort as being evidence of being a 'bright spark'. This contributes to the self - perception of boys and girls; boys tend to overestimate their abilities, girls to underestimate theirs. Learning resources can also affect differential achievement between boys and girls. Traditional textbooks, some of which are still used in schools, often contain sexist materials and images in which the woman's role is trivialised, e.g. a science textbook may show boys carrying out experiments while girls watch or are not present, examples used may be more likely to appeal to boys than girls and the achievement of women and the importance of gender issues may be played down. Newer textbooks and other resources consciously take account of gender issues and promote equality, avoiding the sexism of earlier books. The use of resources such as science equipment may be dominated by boys. Teachers do not always challenge the physical domination of spaces by aggressive boys. ...read more.

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