Posted on Leave a comment

Gender and Education: Good Resources

Useful links to quantitative and qualitative research studies, statistics, researchers, and news paper articles relevant to gender and education. These links should be of interest to students studying A-level and degree level sociology, as well as anyone with a general interest in the relationship between gender, gender identity, differential educational achievement and differences in subject choice.

Just a few links to kick-start things for now, to be updated gradually over time…

General ‘main’ statistical sites and sources

The latest GSCE results analysed by gender from the TES

A Level Results from the Joint Council for Qualifications – broken down by gender and region

Stats on A level STEM subjects – stats on the gender balance are at the end (70% of psychology students are female compared to only 10% of computer science students)

General ‘Hub’ Qualitative resources 

The Gender and Education Association – works to eradicate sexism and gender equality within education. Promotes a Feminist pedagogy (theory of learning).

A link to Professor Becky Francis’ research, which focuses mainly on gender differences in educational achievement – at time of writing (November 2017) her main focus seems to be on girls lack of access to science and banding and streaming (the later not necessarily gender focused)

Specific resources for exploring gender and differential educational achievement

Education as a strategy for international development – despite the fact that girls are outperforming boys in the United Kingdom and most other developed countries, globally girls are underachieving compared to boys in most countries. This link takes you to a general post on education and social development, many of the links explore gender inequality in education.

Specific resources for exploring gender and subject choice 

Dolls are for Girls, Lego is for Boys – A Guardian article which summarizes a study by Becky Francis’s on Gender, Toys and Learning, Francis asked the parents of more than 60 three- to five-year-olds what they perceived to be their child’s favourite toy and found that while parental choices for boys were characterised by toys that involved action, construction and machinery, there was a tendency to steer girls towards dolls and perceived “feminine” interests, such as hairdressing.

Girls are Logging Off – A BBC article which briefly alerts our attention to the small number of girls opting to do computer science.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted on Leave a comment

What is the Gender Gap in Education?

What is The Gender Gap?

The gender gap in education refers to the fact that girls get better GCSE and A level results than boys, in practically every subject, and women are much more likely to go to university than men. For more specific statistics on the relationship between gender and educational achievement, please read on…

Exam results 2017 by gender 

2017 GCSE results show a 9.5% gender gap – with 71 per cent of female entries were awarded at least a C  – or a 4 grade – compared with just 61.5 per cent of their male counterparts

At A-level, there is a 5.4% point gap in the A*-C achievement rate between girls and boys (in the table below, the middle column is the A-C rate

A level results 2017 gender

 

Source – Joint Council for Qualifications (who have a ‘closed data policy’, as they don’t provide their data in spread sheets, on PDFs.

Up until the late 1980’s boys outperformed girls in O’Levels (before they were replaced by GCSE’s) as well as A Levels. They were also more likely to attend university than girls.

The 2016 figures showed that:

  • Girls have opened up their biggest gap over boys in A* to C GCSE grades for 14 years.
  •  71.3 per cent of female entries were awarded at least a C grade, compared with just 62.4 per cent of their male counterparts.
  • A higher percentage of female entries also achieved A* or A grades: 24.1 per cent compared with 16.8 per cent for boys – a gap of 7.3 percentage points

Interestingly, research from the Cambridge Assessment Research Report showed that the ‘gender gap was generally smaller in STEM and Language subjects (around 5 percentage points at grade C) and greater in Applied, Expressive and Humanities subjects (around 14 percentage points at grade C)’.

There was a 9% point ‘gender gap at GCSE in 2015

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Do teachers stereotype students according to sex and gender?

GCSE and A level statistics show us subject choices are very gendered – even in 2017, boys tend to choose typically male subjects and girls tend to choose typically female subjects.

Interactionist theory points to teacher stereotyping and labeling as one of the main explanations for these gendered differences in subject choice, but what evidence is there that teachers stereotype pupils along gender lines?

This 2017 Online Survey by Accenture found evidence of gender stereotyping and bias around STEM subjects:

  • Almost a third (32%) of young people think that more boys choose STEM subjects than girls because they match ‘male’ careers or jobs. The perception that STEM subjects are for boys only is the primary reason that teachers believe few girls take up these subjects at school.
  • More than half of both parents (52%) and teachers (57%) admit to having themselves made subconscious stereotypes about girls and boys in relation to STEM, and over half (54%) of teachers claim to have seen girls dropping STEM subjects at school due to pressure from parents.

teacher stereotyping.jpg

Sampling:

This research was based on a sample of  8,644 people in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, including 2,793 boys and 2,667 girls aged 7-16, 909 young men and 875 young women aged 17-23, and 1000 parents and 400 teachers.

The fact that this research is only based on a sample of 400 teachers, and the fact that the sample is online and random, raises questions about how generalisable these findings are to the wider population of teachers. We simply don’t know!

Posted on Leave a comment

Gender and Subject Choice 2017

Looking at the A level exam entries by gender in 2017 over 90% of people who sat computing were male, compared to only 23% of people who sat sociology A level.

A Level Subjects Gender 2017

 

Either click on the above graphic or check out the interactive version here (irritatingly I can’t embed dynamic visuals in a wordpress.com blog, yet!) 

These are only selected A-levels, to make the amount of information more manageable…. I didn’t deliberately select it so sociology was the most feminine, but it’s certainly ‘up there’ as one of the most female dominated subjects… must be all that empathizing us sociologists do?!

Talking about empathy, or lack of it, I have to say absolutely no thanks whatsoever to the Joint Qualifications Alliance who did not even respond to my email request for a spread sheet of this A-level data.

The JCQ only make this public data available in the form of a PDF which makes it less accessible for data manipulation – I had to enter this info by hand, which was massively inefficient use of my time.

This post is primarily me testing out the capabilities of Tableau (Free data viz software)…. More on subject choice at different levels of education later, as well as analysis of WHY males and females choose different subjects…..

Source:

Joint Council for Qualifications and Enemies of Open Data. 

 

Posted on 4 Comments

Should girls be allowed to wear trousers in school?

britney-spears-schoolgirl

Most UK schools have introduced trousers for girls into their uniform codes in the last twenty years, but some continue to ban them and will send home any girl who turns up wearing trousers, at least according to Trousers for All, which campaigns to give girls the option to wear trousers as part of their school uniform.

Trousers for all notes that ‘The ban on trousers for girls covers the entire spectrum of schools: primary, secondary, public and private, faith and non-faith”.

While it might seem like a throwback to the 1970s, or even the 1870s, this really does go on today – take this 2016 Mumsnet discussion as an example:

school skirts

Despite the above, there does seem to be widespread support (there certainly is on Mumsnet) for schools adopting uniform policies which either stipulate a ‘skirt ban’, so that that both boys and girls must wear trousers only, or that girls at least have a choice over whether they wear trousers or a skirt.

The following arguments have been put forward for allowing girls the freedom to wear trousers:

Firstly, it seems to be a pretty blatant breach of the government’s own 2010 equality act, and while it hasn’t been tested in court yet, it seems unlikely that if a parent mounted a legal challenge against a school banning their female child from wearing trousers, the school would lose – I mean, it’s been a workplace norm for 40 years now after all!

Secondly, forcing girls to wear dresses restricts their sense of freedom (Guardian Opinion Article (2017), and it does seem somewhat hypocritical that schools are expected to inspire in children a sense that ‘they are free to achieve anything they want’, except for wearing trousers in school for the next few years, if you’re a girl.

Thirdly, according to Becky Francis: “The stipulation that boys wear trousers while girls must wear skirts promotes messages that boys are active, while girls should be less active, decorative, and ‘demure’.”  (Professor Becky Francis, Director of UCL Institute of Education).

Trousers for All takes this a step further, suggesting that… ‘Schools forcing girls to wear skirts is equivalent to states forcing females to wear a veil and to companies forcing females to wear high heels. All of these are expressions of sexism.’

What do you think: is it right for schools to ban girls from wearing trousers?

 

Deeper Analysis: will a gender neutral clothing policy end the ‘policing of girls’ bodies in schools’? 

Laura Bates (of Everyday Sexism)  makes the argument that whether we have a gender neutral clothing policy in schools or not, girls bodies are still going to be ‘policed’ in school more than boys, citing examples of girls being sent home for wearing skirts deemed to be too short (and distracting to boys and teachers), and even examples of girls who have been sent home for wearing trousers which were too tight.

girls tight trousers
The trousers which were too tight for school

You also might like to contrast the way in which the above cases are treated, compared to the fact that these boys who turned up to school in skirts to protest their school’s ‘no shorts’ policy face no disciplinary action whatsoever. Maybe, just maybe, this reflects the fact that schools on average have a greater range of rules policing female compared to male bodies?????