The expectations of girls in education and attainment

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The expectations of girls in education and attainment

The two research projects discussed in this essay are on attitudes towards and the expectations of girls in education and attainment. The authors are firstly Sue Sharpe, who researched girls' attitudes towards their expectations of education, attainment and career prospects. Secondly Dale Spender, who herself was a teacher, researched the time she spent talking in class to girls and also other teachers' attitudes towards girls. Sharpe researched using unstructured interviews to gain qualitative data and not statistical evidence. Spender researched using observation on how much time was spent in her classroom interacting with girls.

Sharpe's study was carried out in 1972 and repeated in 1991, she interviewed 249 female pupils with a sub sample from the black population. Her findings were that girls' priorities were marriage and family life rather than jobs and career. Most girls held very traditional ideas about womanhood; marriage, husbands, children, jobs and careers, more or less in that order. Girls believed their lives are to be centred on domesticity marriage and restricted job opportunities. (See appendix 1) Although the girls interviewed in 1991 appear more independent than those interviewed in 1972. Many of the girls in 1972 had chosen careers in office work and in low paid jobs. In 1991 girls' attitudes had changed saying they would like a career in nursing, teaching and veterinary nurse but none of the girls had said they would like to become doctors or surgeons. In 1991 the priority of the girls' was still to get married. Relationships towards male within society appeared to have changed very little, they were still seen by girls as the breadwinners.
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Spender sees the education system being full of sexism towards girls, which in turn lowers their self-esteem. She recorded her own lessons and although consciously trying to divide her time equally between male and female pupils her findings were that in reality, and according to her recordings she gave more time to the male pupils. Spender also suggests that in secondary education, teachers spent disproportionately large amounts of time dealing with boys to the exclusion of females within schools. Spender found she spent 38% of her time interacting with the girls. (See appendix 2) She also requested other ...

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