Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the Claim That Gender Differences in Educational Achievement Are Primarily the 'Result of Changes in Society'

1182 words 5 pages
Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the claim that gender differences in educational achievement are primarily the 'result of changes in society'

Some sociologists claim that gender differences in achievement are the result of external factors such as changes in wider society, e.g. The impact of feminist ideas and changing employment opportunities (as stated in Item A). However, this could also be an outcome of internal factors such as the education system becoming 'feminised', which could have impacted the performance of girls achievement, as it has risen at a faster rate at some levels and in some subjects. Some sociologists also argue that the media have exaggerated the extent and nature of any problem.

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Mitsos and Browne argue that girls are more successful in coursework because they are better organised and more conscientious than boys. They found that girls tend to spend more time on their work, take more care on its presentation and are better at keeping deadlines. This all helps girls to benefit from the introduction of coursework in GCSE, AS and A Level. Sewell suggests that some of the coursework should be replaced with final exams and a greater emphasis should be put on outdoor adventure in the curriculum, as he thinks boys learn differently to girls. Jo Boaler argues that equal opportunities policies such as GIST and WISE are a key factor in the improvement of girls educational performance. Schools have become more meritocratic, which means that girls in general work harder than boys and achieve more.

Teacher-pupil interactions were also identified as being very significant by Barber. For girls, feedback from teachers focused more on their work rather than their behaviour; for the boys it was the opposite. The low expectations of girls in science reinforced their own self-images; boys frequently overestimated their abilities. Research by Abraham (1995) suggests that teachers perceive boys as being more badly behaved than girls in the classroom, and as such expect bad behaviour. Teachers may also tend to be less strict with boys, giving them more leeway with deadlines and expecting a lower standard of work than they


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