"What is considered inherently interesting is knowledge about men. Because men control the records, and the value system, it is generally believed that it is men who have done all the exciting things: it is men who have made history, made discoveries, made inventions and performed feats of skill and courage - according to men. These are the important activities and only men become the curriculum." (Dale Spender 1982)
The above quite reflects the findings and attitude of Dale Spender, a female sociologist. She believed that his is the reason why females were underachieving during this time and females were gendered into caring subjects. To remove this gender difference the national curriculum, and programs such as the "Girls into science and technology" was introduced. The national curriculum helped girls under achievement. Today girls are now outperforming boys. However there is still a clear difference in subject choice by gender. Girls still tend to study and take up careers in the arts and social science where as males study science and technological subjects in higher education.
I am currently a college student studying A levels in Information communication technology, biology, chemistry and sociology. In my scin3ece and technology subjects I have observed that there is a small female presence in the classroom, but in my sociology classroom the majority of students are females. These differences have influenced me to carry out this research project under the current hypotheses. Secondly research carried out by Alison Kelly in the Missing Half: Girls and science Education (1981) has also influenced my subject choice for this project. Alison Kelly found that girls do not study science because they cannot associate them with something that girls do. Thirdly the consideration of the availability of material, research, statistics and research subjects.
Hypothesis: Girls are less likely then boys to study science and technology subjects in Higher education because these subjects are seen as masculine subjects.
* Find out what subjects girls study more in higher education as well as for boys.
* Why are girls less likely then boys to study science and technology subjects?
* Create and carry out questionnaires similar to Dale spender research.
The sociological perspectives that can be identified best with this research are Feminist Perspective and an Integrationist perspective. I will be specifically relating to a Radical Feminist perspective.
" Radical Feminist consider that patriarchy - the system of domination of females by males - is the central issue for women. In their view, patriarchy permeates the whole of society and the whole of the educational system. They therefore address and attempt to confront sex-bias not only in the allocation of the subject curriculum to females and males but in all aspects of the educational system. (A new introduction to sociology)
Dale Spender was a feminist. She argues (The Invisible Women) that education is part of the patriarchal control system in which men control all key areas of power. Men define what is valuable knowledge. The curriculum is a sexist instrument, which favours boys, by placing emphasis on science and technology. School help to maintain male dominance.
Interactionist such as Kelly (Science and girls) has produced evidence through observational techniques to show how girls are often marginalised in science lesions by the use of textbooks which make few references to women scientist; by teacher who use examples more familiar to boys; and by other male pupils who dominate classroom activities.
This perspective is similar to the Marxist perspective. However this perspective focuses on the education system regenerating class inequalities in society. Karl Marx said, " the class which is the dominant material force in society is at the same time the dominant intellectual force." Schools from what Louis Althusser called the "state ideological apparatus" and seeks to inculate ruling class ideology into the population. This perspective does not include the gender differences that exist in even middle class students.
Funtionalists criticise Marxist and feminist views. They claim that such arguments have errors in them because of a lack of data. They point to statistics that which indicate that girls are catching up with boys in levels of educational success.
Theories that I can identify from the two perspectives are the Hidden Curriculum and Gender Socialization.
I am testing the theory that sciences are seen as masculine subjects as a result of gender socialisation.
Criticisms of this theory. (Taken from success in sociology)
. Socialisation theories do not provide adequate explanations of the diversity of experience between girls of different social class backgrounds and ethnic groups.
2. The ideology and its analysis seem to be based on the assumption that there is a single unified ideology of femininity, rather then complex and sometimes contradictory process.
3. Sex role ideology theorist have assumed that each agent of socialisation transmits the same ideology, regardless of whether this agent is the family, the school, the peer group or the media.
The sociological concepts that I can identify are Gender, Age, class and religion. The sociological concepts that I will be operationalizing in my project are Gender and Age.
These concepts will be included in my questionnaires by asking at the start of the questionnaire the age and sex of the participant.
Studies that I can relate to this research are
* Ann Colley's Study
* Sue Sharpe
* Michelle Stanworth
* Alison Kelly
* The Newsons