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To what extent have changing gender identities affected the performance of girls and boys at school in the contemporary UK?

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Introduction

Carl Andrade DD100 TMA 01 Part B: Question part (b) 50% To what extent have changing gender identities affected the performance of girls and boys at school in the contemporary UK? In answering the question "To what extent have changing gender identities affected the performance of girls and boys at school in the contemporary UK, we must look at how gender identities are formed and the role it plays in our construction and educational performance? Throughout the child's life their parent's expectations lead them to encourage different forms of behaviour. For instance, girls are expected to be neat and tidy, to wear attractive clothing and to be aware of their appearance. The games that they play will be different from the boys, it will involve cooking, washing up, being a mother and playing with dolls. The boys on the other hand will build things, take a lead role as a super hero or take dominant role playing games. In (1997/1998) Francis, constructed an occupational role play experiment with children aged 7 to 11 years, and she discovered that the majority of boys selected high flying jobs. ...read more.

Middle

They argued that boys adapt to subjects which have been formed around their identity i.e. science, mathematical reasoning and drawing and girls are dominating on verbal tests i.e. English, mathematical calculations. By the 1960s and 1970s Feminists groups argued that more emphasis was placed on the boy's education than the girls, which changed the educational system around. However, during the last decade media have reported that the boys are now 'underachieving' in certain subjects in school. The concern has recently become wide spread, but not just in Britain but worldwide (Woodward, p.63). Researchers Prof Rees, G and Gorard, S (1997) have observed the development of the 'gender gap' i.e. the difference in the levels of achievement in girls and boys under sixteen. Studies have shown that boys do not perform as well as girls in standard subjects (literacy, math's) girls are now overtaking boys at a higher level standard. However, post sixteen year old girls tend to drop out of science and technology despite doing better than boys at GCSEs. ...read more.

Conclusion

This suggests that there is a gender gap and the relationship between gender and education attainment is more complex especially when you see that the above research can not be applied to all levels of education. As a result a variety of reasons can be suggested for the difference between male and female performances in schools. Females out perform males because educational policies to help girls over the past twenty years has seen attempts to improve the academic performance of girls. The introduction of the Butler Education act in England & Wales in 1944, where more vacancies were available for boys in grammar schools than girls, this was on the grounds that 'boys' matured much later than girls. The act caused an outcry by feminist groups demanding equality and highlighting the underachievement in girls which turned the education system around. One could argue that the abolishment of the act could now create uncertainty in the boy's education. Girls have higher career aspiration, greater range of role models in society than in earlier years and improved employment prospects for women and changes in the industry. So it could be argued that changing gender identities have greatly affected the performance of girls and boys in school in the UK. ...read more.

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