Gender Differences in Education Yuliya Tsypenyuk ELE 301 Dr. Pan
Outline of Presentation • Gender Gap in Science and Math • Gender Gap in Reading and Writing • Shift in Gender Gap • Theories for Gender Gaps • Educational Differences • Possible Solutions or Interventions
Gender Gap in STEM Fields • Historically, research on gender differences has focus on how girls are underrepresented in STEM fields • Females typically score lower than males in math on standardized tests and the SATs • Most research indicates that the gender difference in math does not occur until high school. • Females generally do worse on mental rotation and spatial ability tasks • These differences are seen to emerge early in life • Over the past two decades, the gender gap has been closing • In school settings, girls are scoring equal to boys in these fields
Gender Gap in Reading and Writing • More recently, attention has shifted to boys lagging behind girls, specifically in reading and writing • According to Scholastic, 75 % of this gap can already be measured in fourth grade. • By the fourth grade, the average boy is developmentally two years behind the average girl in reading and writing. • Gaps in reading are affecting math and science performances • This gap is present in over 40 countries
Boys Are Falling Behind? • Girls, on average, earn high grades than boys and graduate with higher GPAs. Girls tend to outnumber boys in higher education. • Girls are more likely than boys to graduate high school and college. • Some colleges are practicing affirmative action for boys. • Some researchers found the number of men attending college is increasing, it’s just the number of females attending college is increasing more rapidly. • However, boys still score higher on standardized tests in math. This may be due to testing bias. • Some researchers say that boys are not doing worse. Girls are just doing better. • Boys make up 70% of special education classes and are as much as four times likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Theories for Gender Gaps • Biological Differences • Cognitive Differences • Stereotype Threat • Socialization Factors • Educational Problems
Differing Learning Styles • Deductive and Inductive Reasoning: Boys are more likely to use deductive reasoning, while girls tend to prefer inductive thinking. • Abstract and Concrete Reasoning: Males gravitate towards abstract arguments; females do better at concrete analysis: E.g. boys tend to do better at math on the board, while girls prefer math manipulatives. • Use of Language: On average, females write, read, and speak more words than males. In female groups, girls tend to speak equally often, while in a male group one or two students will often dominate. • Logic and Evidence: Because girls tend to be better listeners, they feel more secure in conversation, and require less control of the discussion than boys. Boys will often ask for more evidence to support a claim. • Use of Symbolism: While both boys and girls respond to pictures, boys are more dependent on pictures, diagrams, and graphs in their learning process. • —From The Boys and Girls Learn Differently Action Guide for Teachers, by Michael Gurian and Arlette C. Ballew (Jossey-Bass, 2003). As cited in http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/instructor/popups/brainbaseddiff.htm
Differing Learning Styles • Brain structures: • Corpus callosum(connector between two hemispheres) in girls is larger. This allows girls to be better at multi-tasking, while boys prefer to compartmentalize things. • Activating different areas of the brain • Girls tend to use the areas of the brain devoted to verbal and emotional functioning, while boys use the areas focused towards spatial and mechanical tasks • Response to stress • A boy’s autonomic nervous system causes them to be more alert when they’re standing, moving, and the room temperature is around 69 degrees. Stress in boys tends to increase blood flow to their brains, a process that helps them stay focused. • Girls are more focused seated in a warmer room around 75 degrees. When girls are faced with stress, the blood goes to their guts, leaving them feeling nervous or anxious
Brainstorm and Discuss • How would you address these gender differences in your classroom? • How can you get boys interested in reading and writing? • How can you get girls more involved in physical science and lab work? • How can you adjust your class to meet the needs of both girls and boys? • Is the gender difference something to be concerned about?
Proposed Solutions • Single-Sex Schooling • Differentiate instruction • Gender sensitivity training for teachers
Proposed Solutions • Ways to help boys in literacy (from Scholastic): • Tap into visual spatial strengths. Have children map their own filmstrip predictions of the book´s ending. • Allow time for movement. Highly active children, especially boys, may need brief breaks built into the day to stand up, stretch, and walk around. Build physical movement into lessons when possible. For example, when teaching a lesson on punctuation, let the whole class stand up and act out a period, a question mark, an exclamation point, or a semicolon. • Use hands-on materials. Allow children the opportunity to show their learning in other ways besides writing. • Incorporate technology. Increasing the use of computer-based education helps to engage the attention of boys at all grade levels, say many researchers. Computer learning games, Internet research time, and cyberhunts all have special appeal.
Proposed Solutions • Ways to help boys in literacy (from Scholastic): • Provide male role models. Throughout the elementary years, most boys attend school in a largely female environment, as most teachers are female. Invite fathers into the classroom, as well as male guest speakers. High school boys might be a good source of tutoring for some of your struggling boy students. • Allow opportunities for competition. Some students truly thrive on the energy of intellectual competition. Occasional studying contests, spelling bees, geography bees, math competitions, and brainteasers can be a wonderful spark for learning. • Choose books that appeal to boys. Reading more nonfiction in the classroom is a sure way to capture boys´ interest. They tend to prefer books filled with interesting facts and information. Follow their interests. If earthquakes are a success, move on to tidal waves. • Create a supportive classroom environment. All children need to feel psychologically safe in school. Teachers can make the classroom a safety zone for boys where they can be themselves without putting up a false front.
Works Cited • Brotman, J.S., & Moore, F.M. (2008). Girls and science: A review of four themes in the science education literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(9), 971-1002. • Connell, D., & Gunzelmann, B. (2004). The new gender gap: Why are so many boys floundering while so many girls are soaring? Retrieved from http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/instructor/Mar04_gendergap.htm • Halpern, D.F., Benbow, C.P., Geary, D.C., Gur, R.C., Hyde, J.S., & Gernsbacher, M.A. (2007). The science of sex differences in science and mathematics. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 8, 1-51. • Hyde, J.S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S.J. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A metaanalysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107(2), 139-155. • Kristof N. D. (2010, March 7). The Boys Have Fallen Behind. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/opinion/28kristof.html • Mead, S. (2006). The evidence suggests otherwise: Truth about boys and girls. Education Sector. Retrieved from http://www.cpec.ca.gov/completereports/externaldocuments/eso_boysandgirls.pdf • Patrick, H., Mantzicopoulos, P., & Samarapungavan, A. (2009). Motivation for learning science in kindergarten: Is there a gender gap and does integrated inquiry and literacy instruction make a difference. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(2), 166-191.