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Sociology A-level, context into why females achieve better at science gcse but do not take science at a-level

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Society is largely diverse due to achievement between males and females. I believe that this diversity is largely due to the treatment of genders whilst being educated in schools. I have decided to investigate this belief especially in the case of scientific subjects, such as physics, chemistry, maths and computing sciences, engineering and technology and biological sciences.

I have found various sources of statistics to help me show how females between the ages of 11-16 are not performing as well as males of the same age group. Through these statistics I found that only 16 500 girls achieved grades A*-C in GSCE physics in 2005 where as 24 400 males achieved grades A*-C. This has been the trend for many years which can be shown as in the year 2000 Males who achieved grades A*-C at GCSE in Physics was 20 600 were as only 13 100 females achieved grades A*-C. This shows that females are not achieving as well as males in physics. However, physics is not the only science were this trend occurs.

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Some sociologists argue that men’s predominance in subjects such as science, maths and economics mean that they were more likely than females to be doing the most prestigious subjects and those most likely to lead to well paid and powerful jobs. However, other sociologists argue that cultural factors may be the reason for gender divisions in scientific achievement. They believe that early socialization may encourage boys to develop more interest and skill for technical and scientific subjects so that when choosing which subjects to study or which subjects to work harder at females and males may be influenced by what they have learned about femininity and masculinity. Sociologists such as Sue Sharp and her study into girls and their future careers agree with this theory. However, Sharp’s study was conducted in 1976 and there has been a large increase in feminism leading to equal rights since the study so this may not be the case today.

Sue Sharp also noted that she believed that the

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Other sociologists agree with Kelly and believe that although there is a difference between male and female science results, which is partially due to teachers, but that it is in fact not only the teaching style that is the problem. One of these sociologists is Anne Colley and she identifies perceptions of gender roles, subject preferences and choice and the learning environment to be the most significant factors. Colley’s research shows that males achieve better in all the sciences which are concerned with inanimate things which are seen as more masculine this even includes biology, however her research shows that female’s are more likely to study biology at A-level as it is more feminine as it is about living things. Colley states that “subject choice continues to reflect adult male and female social roles and the abilities and attributes to males and females on the basis of these roles in the gender stereotypes of academic subject areas. The information contained in these stereotypes is acquired during socialisation and reinforced by prevailing beliefs, observations of the status quo, and educational practices which themselves are influenced by the same stereotypes.”

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