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Explain more fully the nature of the 'gender gap' in examination results. To what extent should it be considered a problem?

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Following the publication of GCSE results this year a Guardian newspaper headline (25 August 2006 p14) read 'Boys narrow gender gap'. Explain more fully the nature of the 'gender gap' in examination results. To what extent should it be considered a problem? Compulsory education is a requirement set by law, in which all individuals aged from the age of 6-14 must receive. Due to compulsory education being an obligation set by the state, it is down to those in power to see that all of society can afford to place their children within it. There is a prominent notion when looking at the concept of education, this notion being gender. Gender is determined by an individual's actions concerning their sex, allowing them to be perceived as masculine or feminine, this in turn has been seen to have an effect upon the subjects taken by adolescents within secondary school and indeed the quality of work achieved by male and female students within subjects labelled 'masculine' and 'feminine', this can be identified as a 'gender gap', this being a difference in the attitudes and achievements of males and females. Therefore, throughout this essay, I shall look education and the subject choices made my male and female students, and whether socialisation affects the choices made. I also intend to focus on the achievement within examination results, these aspects will allow me to decipher whether the notion of the 'gender gap' is a problem within education. ...read more.


the emphasis resting in the boy's underachievement: ...This attention to males may divert attention from the continuing problems and discrimination that females face in education. (Francis 1999) However, despite the negativity concerning the issues concerning the gender gap, it has been noted that the gap has indeed reduced in academic achievement and subject choice: The introduction of the National Curriculum as a standardized compulsory set of subjects and the GCSE as a common examination has played a key role in reducing the sex segregation of subjects... (Arnot, David and Weiner 1999:18) In 1994, although gender differences were still present within subjects such as physics, design and technology, and economics, boys did not tend to dominate such areas as physics and technology as much. Subjects such as English, mathematics, and history become far more balanced with participation from boys and girls. Although boys were criticised before, they have now been praised for their efforts in working to close the gender gap, especially within GCSE achievement: Unlike at A-level-where girls are steaming ahead of the boys...at GCSE, boys narrowed the gap, particularly at the higher grades. (Smithers 2006:14) However, it has been suggested that the closure between the gender gap within education is due to subject choices selected by male and female pupils. It is evident that pupils are opting to participate in subjects that are outside of the 'traditional band' often labelled as easy subjects in order to get higher marks. Due to the increase within subjects such as media studies, participation within subjects including modern foreign languages and physics decreased. ...read more.


This presents the idea that an education is more beneficial to a man than it is for a woman. However, due to society becoming less reliant upon gender traditions, the causes concerning the gender gap need to be addressed intensively in order to allow equal levels of achievement by both sexes and decrease the level of competition. The behaviour of boys has been mentioned a vast amount when concerning the gender gap, it becomes clear that boys are unwilling to display their full potential within the academic arena due to the belief that showing an interest in achieving will deduce the masculinity they possess. The 'laddish' behaviour of boys in schools has been amplified through media intervention; the media therefore, merely highlight the negative aspects surrounding the gender gap but do not comment on how the issue can be tackled. Due to the media allowing a bias overview to be presented, the public are unlikely to acknowledge the truth that not all boys within education achieve low grades and not all girls achieve high grades, this stereotype needs to be challenged in order for this gap to be reduced. Taking into account teaching methods may also help to reduce the gender gap within education, it has been thought of that some boys lack concentration within the classroom. Therefore catering for their needs in achievement may reduce their struggle; for example using visual aids and a more practical method of learning. The concept of the gender gap is not a problem in itself; the real problem is a lack of intervention in stopping it. Word Count: 1,910 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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