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Gender and subject choice.

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Introduction

Title: Gender and Subject Choice Aim My aim is to understand why there is a persistence in differences in subject choice between males and females within schools. Previous research on this topic has proved that a significant comparison can be made between 'A' level students in which the sciences particularly have become gendered, this will be my major theme and I will aim to investigate why these differences exist. I have chosen to examine this topic further because despite continued attempts to address gender inequalities and biases in education and attainment, qualitative and quantitative research demonstrates the persistence of gender differences in terms of subject choice. These differences seem increasingly significant in the higher stages of education. (110 words) Contexts and Concepts A major concept that is relevant to my study is that of gender roles. Gender roles have proved amongst various amounts of research to have a persistent effect on subject choice. Factors influencing this could be for example: the cultural idea that masculinity is associated with 'the ability to lead' and is seen as instrumental whilst femininity is associated with affection and is seen as expressive. Also the persistence of men being seen in the public realm and womens' association with the private sphere (motherhood). 'The Persistence of Gender Inequalities in Subject Choice' (Anne Colley 1998). ...read more.

Middle

To carry out these interviews, I would take a sample of 20 sixth-formers, preferably within my own sixth-form to allow easier, speedier access and consisting equally of both males and females. In order to do this I would use quota sampling, this is a way in which variables can be controlled and the participants with similar characteristics are chosen, hence the overall sample can reflect the characteristics of the population as a whole. These samples would also preferably include students that had chosen to study any of the sciences, however particularly focusing on Biology. This sample would also take into account ethnic and class differences in order to allow me to differentiate between males and females according to different variables, providing sufficient extra data to measure gender against class roles and the intersections. Whilst this will provide qualitative clues as to subject choices by gender it will be limited in illustrating the impact of the learning environment and gender roles, as this would demand more 'qualitative analysis' such as that of Anne Colleys'. However, I would expect the results to be generalisable to a wider population. I will anchor these questions in previous research such as that of Anne Colley. Within the interviews, I am going to focus on Biology in particular when asking about the science/favourite subjects, etc. ...read more.

Conclusion

The lack of this genuine randomness may have a significant effect on the results. For example, the quota sample within my study would be only those illustrated on the biology class register, however the results may have more of an impact if a quota sample had been taken from all those who achieved a high grade at GCSE biology and were in fact considering going on to study it at a higher level, etc. There is of course, with my research an interviewer bias. As my opinions on the topic are set by doing the research, participants may be influenced by my asking of the questions and will therefore respond by giving a respectable answer as they may find the real truth embarrassing, eg. "I fancied a lad who was taking the course". However I am similar in status to my chosen sample group, therefore they may wish to impress or please me by giving me answers that they think I 'want' to hear. Another problem may be the reliability of the interviewees memory, they aren't currently making their choice and might not remember their thoughts on it at the time. Also during interviews, a crucial factor as a way of achieving a reliable outcome of the research is to not put ideas into the students head before having asked open-ended questions. For example, closed-ended questions especially may put forward ideas that weren't there before and therefore mislead me about 'their' thoughts on the matter, etc. (367 words) ...read more.

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