what are the effects of gender on educational attainment
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What are the effects of gender on educational attainment?. Primary school boys fail to close gap with girls. Boys are being failed by our schools. Many teenage boys fail test grade. Poor white boys 'most likely to fail school'. Almost half of all boys fail to meet targets for writing.

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what are the effects of gender on educational attainment
What are the effects of gender on educational attainment?

Primary school boys fail to close gap with girls

Boys are being failed by our schools

Many teenage boys fail test grade

Poor white boys 'most likely to fail school'

Almost half of all boys fail to meet targets for writing

Why aren't boys doing as well at school?

Recent headlines taken from newspapers and websites

what s your opinion
What’s your opinion?



are boys educational failures

Are boys educational failures?

Evaluating the effect of Gender on School achievement

sociological targets
Sociological Targets
  • To understand that gender can have an influence on school attainment.
  • To recognise that traditional patterns of gender attainment are changing in favour of girls.
  • To identify some of the effects that the growing confidence of girls is having on boys.
the problem for schools
The problem for schools
  • Until the mid 1980s, boys out-performed girls at all levels of the education system, with the exception of 11+
  • Most educational writers read this as being 'proof' that girls were generally less intelligent than boys and that boys were 'late developers'.
  • Since the mid-1980s both genders began to improve their school performance significantly. The improvement of girls was more rapid than that for boys.
is this a problem
Is this a problem?
  • Warrington and Younger (1999) note that the success of girls should be a cause for celebration and congratulation.
  • Instead it is viewed as a 'problem' with concern expressed about how males are 'failing’.
  • Schools are now told to tackle the issue of the underachievement of boys.
discussion questions
Discussion questions
  • Why do you think male improvement in achievement has been at a lower rate to females?
  • Why do you think female success is seen as a problem of boys 'failing'?
important research study
Important Research Study
  • Sharpe (1976/1994)
  • Used structured interviews so that views could be compared over time.
  • In 1976 revealed girls’ priorities as being love, marriage, children, husband and jobs in that order !
  • In 1994 this had changed to more career orientated aspirations.
  • What are the potential problems with structured interviews?
  • She used only a small sample !!
stimulus materials
Stimulus materials
  • Look at the graphs on your sheets.
  • Summarise what you learn about gender attainment from each of them.
possible reasons for changes ranking exercise
Possible reasons for changes: ranking exercise
  • Girls and boys learn in different ways
  • Schools are feminine environments
  • Girls’ attitudes towards work are changing
  • Young women are more personally confident
  • Males are losing confidence and there is a crisis of masculinity
  • Boys are rejecting school and developing ‘laddish’ attitudes.
key researchers
Key researchers
  • Wilkinson (1994) refers to the 'genderquake' whereby young females are increasingly striving for a fulfilling career
  • Susan Faludi and Robert Bly suggest male underachievement is linked to a 'crisis of masculinity‘
  • Murphy and Elwood (1998) argue that teachers are now more sensitive to gender issues facing females. Teaching has become a feminised profession
researchers 2
Researchers 2
  • Mitsos and Browne (1998) found that in coeducation schools girls worked harder and spent more time on homework, were better organised, and were more likely to meet deadlines than boys.
  • Harris et al. (1993) found that boys were more easily distracted in the classroom
  • Post modernists argue that performance by gender is affected by the social class and ethnic backgrounds of male and female students. Thus, not all female students do well and all male students do badly.
  • For Mac an Ghaill, the underachievement of boys is particularly a working class problem.
  • Although girls may be doing better at examinations at school, this is not to say that females will make strides in achieving top managerial positions.
  • Evidence from the work place and elsewhere support the assertion that female attitudes to success have changed, women have children later, and see careers and vital.
  • A lot of the work lacks empirical data to support it. It is often small scale, and thus generalisations are difficult to make.
These studies give an up to date account of classroom attainment in the 1990’s.
  • The work fails to take into account class differences. In reality it is not boys per se who fails, but working class boys.
  • This debate is sterile. In reality it is a smokescreen to divert attention away from the real gains women have made, and to divert attention back again on the male of the species.
Many of the so-called initiatives were only narrow in their scope and can thus not be said to be responsible for added female achievement.
  • Much empirical quantitative data show that this trend is consistent and widening, and thus cannot be dismissed easily.
key terms
Key Terms
  • Crisis of masculinity
  • Cultural deprivation
  • Discrimination
  • Feminism
  • Gender
  • Genderquake
  • Hidden Curriculum
  • Laddishness
  • Ladettes
  • Material deprivation
  • Sexism

Outline and explain why boys are now seen by many as the ‘gender of failure’ in Education.

independent study
Independent study

Add to your notes by using the textbooks in the LRC and in your Sociology department.

Use the e-book on the NGFL-Cymru website for more detailed notes and explanations.