07 SES 07 A, Gender Awareness
Since the 80s, there has been a lot of attention for the educational underachievement of boys in comparison to girls. Researches have suggested several explanations. It has, for instance, been shown that boys have more negative school attitudes than girls, have less self-discipline concerning homework (11) and display more disruptive behaviour in the classroom (6). All these factors would contribute to boys getting poorer grades, repeating grades more often, enrolling less in higher education and dropping out more frequently than girls (6). Masculinity theories explain this behaviour by placing it in a broader masculinity culture where boys want to prove their masculinity by opposing all things ‘feminine’, such as studying (4).
While these theories have improved our understanding of boys’ underachievement, the problem remains that these approaches tend to focus solely on boys, thereby ignoring one half of the school population: girls. Furthermore, this focus on the underachievement of boys overlooks the broad variety within each sex category (11). In fact, quite a lot of boys do just as well or even better than their female peers, while underachieving girls remain invisible.
With the present study, we wish to break through this gender dichotomy by considering the impact of gender-identity on study processes. Gender-identity refers to the extent to which people feel to be ‘masculine’ or feminine’ and can thus be equally applied to both sexes, thereby transcending the dichotomy that has pervaded gender research for so long.
Some researchers have already hinted at possible contributions of gender-identity to educational gender gap research. For one, an investigation into school failure among LGB (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual) youth has shown that homosexual boys tend to fail less than heterosexual boys, while lesbian girls do worse than heterosexual girls or even heterosexual boys (1). One of the explanations suggested is the lack of certain characteristics in lesbian girls, which help heterosexual girls to outperform boys. Likewise, we could suppose that homosexual boys possess certain qualities that heterosexual boys lack. When considered from a gender perspective, lesbian girls’ gender-identity might be more masculine, while homosexual boys’ gender-identity might be more feminine than their same sex peers. This might link to certain qualities which enhance or limit their educational achievement (such as study motivation, academic self-efficacy or learning style) in comparison to their same sex peers.
First tentative proof of this hypothesis has been provided by Leaper and colleagues who showed that gender typicality – the extent to which a person considers him/herself to be typical for their gender- did not impact on girls’ motivation for science or mathematics (8), while it did impact on college boys’ interest and motivation for gender atypical courses (7).
We will also consider pressure for gender-conformity since it has been shown to impact on girls’ motivation for English, mathematics and science (8). We anticipate a moderation effect on the connection between gender identity and study processes, since research indicates that pressure for gender-conformity lessens cross-gender behaviour in children (3).
1. Aerts, S., Van Houtte, M., Deweaele, A., Cox N., & Vincke, J. (2011). The impact of sexual identification and well-being on school failure among secondary school students in Flanders. Presented at Dag van de Sociologie, Gent, 26/05/2011. 2. Caprara, G., Vecchione, M., Alessandri, G., Gerbino, M., & Barbaranelli, C. (2011). The contribution of personality traits and self-efficacy beliefs to academic achievement: A longitudinal study. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 78–96. 3. Carver, P., Yunger, J., & Perry, D. (2003). Gender identity and adjustment in middle childhood. Sex Roles, 49 (3/4), 95-109. 4. Connell, R. (1996). Teaching the boys: New research on masculinity, and gender strategies for schools. Teachers College Record, 98 (2), 206-235. 5. Egan, S.; & Perry, D. (2001). Gender identity: A multidimensional analysis with implications for psychosocial adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 37 (4), 451-463. 6. Fergusson, D., & Horwood, L. (1997). Gender differences in educational achievement in a New Zealand birth cohort. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 32 (1), 83-96. 7. Leaper, C., & Van, S. (2008). Masculinity ideology, covert sexism and perceived gender typicality in relation to young men’s academic motivation and choices in college. Psychology of Men & Masculinities, 9 (3), 139-153. 8. Leaper, C., Farkas, T., & Brown, C. (2012). Adolescent girls’ experiences and gender-related beliefs in relation to their motivation in math/science and English. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41 (3), 268-282. 9. Pintrich P., Smith D., Garcia T., & McKeachie W. (1991). A manual for the use of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 10. Ryan, R., & Connell, J. (1989). Perceived locus of causality and internalization: Examining reasons for acting in two domains. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 749-761. 11. Warrington, M, Younger, M., & Williams, J. (2000). Student attitudes, image and the gender gap. British Educational Research Journal, 26 (3), 393-407.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.