Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the claim that gender differences in educational achievement are primarily the ‘result of changes in wider society’ (20 marks) (Item A, lines 6 – 7).
Traditionally, in education, females have underachieved, and males have excelled. But in recent years, the females have surpassed the males 11+ level, GCSE level, and A Level. Some reasons put forward for this were Biology, Culture, and Discrimination in school.
Some people would say that biologically, females were less able than males. Although, this ideology is generally rejected today, throughout the 20th century, it was accepted by doctors, and even educationalists. This belief led to women being actively discriminated against in the education system. This was based on the idea, that academic education could be harmful to them. It was believed that it could lead to a break down, as the amount of information the female brain could handle was limited. This idea was contradicted, when females started to do better than males in the 11+, but even then, the number of passes allocated between the genders was equalised, based on the theory that males matured later than females, and this gave the females an unfair advantage. Until recent years, the acceptance of these biological theories lead to a gender differentiated curriculum.
The next possible idea is Culture. These explanations suggest that the stereotyped gender roles are promoted by the culture of society. Sue Sharpe carried out research in the 1970s, which supported this view. She interviewed working class children, and found that the vast majority of them valued marriage and a family, more than they valued a career. They also indicated that in front of their male counterparts, the females did not want to be seen as intelligent, as they believed that this was an unattractive quality in a female. Douglas also found that in working class homes, where resources were scarce, working class parents prioritised the education of their son, over their daughter, assuming that in the future, they would be the breadwinners.
Women are subjected to gender-biased evaluations with their performance on male gender-typed tasks often devalued and their competence denied. This result from the inconsistency between stereotypic perceptions of what women is like and the qualities thought necessary to perform a typically male job. The main idea of this article is to demonstrate this phenomenon, to provide insight into why and ...
The next possible reason for female underachievement in the past is discrimination from school. Apart from the more obvious and formal discriminations to females in the past, such as not being allowed into University, interpretive sociologists suggested that traditionally females experienced much more subtle means of discrimination, and that these came from the teachers in the school. The curriculum focuses more on male achievements in society, and tends to ignore the female.
To conclude, According to Item A others argue that the education system has become ‘feminised’, for example through an emphasis on coursework in assesment, which favour girls. Furthermore, a lack of male primary school teachers means that many boys do not have an adult male role model in their early experiences of school.
By Jordan Odolomerun