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|Becker, R. (2014). Reversal of gender differences in educational attainment: an historical analysis of the West German case. Educational Research, 56(2), 184-201.||The main objective was to analyse which processes were behind the reversal of gender differences in educational attainment after 1945. The theoretical reflections and empirical evidence presented for the US context by DiPrete and Buchmann (Gender-specific trends in the value of education and the emerging gender gap in college completion, Demography 43: 1–24, 2006) and Buchmann, DiPrete, and McDaniel (Gender inequalities in education, Annual Review of Sociology 34: 319–37, 2008) are considered and applied to the West German context. It is suggested that the reversal of gender differences is a consequence of the change in female educational decisions, which are mainly related to labour market opportunities and not, as sometimes assumed, a consequence of a ‘boy’s crisis’. Several databases, such as the German General Social Survey, the German Socio-economic Panel and the German Life History Study, are employed for the longitudinal analysis of the educational and occupational careers of birth cohorts born in the twentieth century. Changing patterns of eligibility for university studies are analysed for successive birth cohorts and gender. Binary logistic regressions are employed for the statistical modelling of the individuals’ achievement, educational decision and likelihood for social mobility – reporting average marginal effects (AME). The empirical results suggest that women’s better school achievement being constant across cohorts does not contribute to the explanation of the reversal of gender differences in higher education attainment, but the increase of benefits for higher education explains the changing educational decisions of women regarding their transition to higher education. The outperformance of females compared with males in higher education might have been initialised by several social changes, including the expansion of public employment, the growing demand for highly qualified female workers in welfare and service areas, the increasing returns of women’s increased education and training, and the improved opportunities for combining family and work outside the home. The historical data show that, in terms of (married) women’s increased labour market opportunities and female life-cycle labour force participation, the raising rates of women’s enrolment in higher education were – among other reasons – partly explained by their rising access to service class positions across birth cohorts, and the rise of their educational returns in terms of wages and long-term employment.|
|Lahelma, E. (2014). Troubling discourses on gender and education. Educational Research, 56(2), 171-183.||In educational policies, two discourses on gender have existed since the 1980s. I call them the ‘gender equality discourse’ and the ‘boy discourse’. The gender equality discourse in education is based on international and national declarations and plans, and is focused predominantly on the position of girls and women. The boy discourse, which has gained popularity through the media, draws on the gender gap in school achievement, attainment and behaviour. The purpose of the article is to describe and analyse the history of these discourses in Finland since the 1970s, with contextualisations to the international and European equality politics. The analysis is based on international and Finnish policy documents, earlier ethnographic research and the author’s own experiences as an activist in the field of research, administration and teaching in gender and education. Methodologically, the article uses the ideas of multi-sited ethnography and auto-ethnography. I will suggest that, despite constant efforts, sustainable change has not been achieved by the gender equality discourse. It has encountered problems because equality work in education has been conducted in short-term projects. Another reason is that issues of gender and gender equality are difficult to grasp and politically sensitive. I will also argue that the measures suggested by the boy discourse have been ineffective. Theoretical problems with the boy discourse lie in the categorisation of genders as if girls and boys were two different species. Moreover, in Finland currently, boys’ achievements in school, even if (on average) weaker than girls’ achievements, seem not to lead to weaker positions in further education and in the labour market. I suggest further that, despite the widespread media publicity about underachieving boys, efforts by teachers and administrators to give boys extra support have resulted in little impact. Some projects that started from the boy discourse continued by developing measures that drew on the gender equality discourse, with no special emphasis on boys. This would be a positive step if the gender equality discourse actually led to changes in educational practices. Unfortunately, this does not seem to happen. I will conclude by suggesting that gender awareness is needed at all levels of education. This involves consciousness of social and cultural differences, inequalities and otherness, all of which should be built into educational practices, as well as a belief that these practices can be changed. It also includes understanding gender as being intertwined with other categories of difference.|
|Kessels, U., Heyder, A., Latsch, M., & Hannover, B. (2014). How gender differences in academic engagement relate to students’ gender identity. Educational Research, (ahead-of-print), 1-10.||Gender differences in educational outcomes encompass many different areas. For example, in some educational settings, boys lag behind girls on indicators of educational success, such as leaving certificates and type of school attended. In studies testing performance, boys typically show lower competence in reading compared with girls, yet tend to show higher competence in school subjects related to mathematics. While such differences in competence between the genders can be relatively small, they coincide with much greater differences in motivation-related variables emerging during the school years, and thus seem to channel students into lifelong gendered pathways via gendered educational and occupational preferences. From a psychological perspective, we propose the Interests as Identity Regulation Model (IIRM) as a useful tool for understanding many of the gender differences in educational outcomes. Specifically, the focus is on two areas of research: girls’ and women’s under-representation in subjects such as maths and science; and boys’ lower engagement at school in general. Findings from recent research, mostly from a psychological perspective using quantitative measures and empirical studies testing the IIRM, are reported to illustrate different aspects of the interplay between students’ gender identity and gendered social meanings of academic domains (such as maths), as well as academic engagement in general. IIRM suggests that the perceived fit between students’ gender identity and the gendered social meanings associated with different possible behaviours at school (e.g. choosing a subject, investing effort or not) is a relevant heuristic for students’ directing of their learning activities. The male stereotyping of maths and science implies a greater misfit between girls’ gender identity and engagement in these domains. The perception that displaying effort and engagement at school is feminine leads to a misfit between boys’ gender identity and academic engagement in general. Attempts to alleviate gender differences in educational outcomes that channel students into lifelong gendered pathways with regard to qualifications and occupations will benefit from an understanding of how closely these academic choices are related to students’ gender identity. Interventions should aim at enhancing the individually perceived fit between a student’s gender identity and engagement in specific subjects or learning activities. The nature of such interventions will be an important topic of future research.
|Krkovic, K., Greiff, S., Kupiainen, S., Vainikainen, M. P., & Hautamäki, J. (2014). Teacher evaluation of student ability: what roles do teacher gender, student gender, and their interaction play? Educational Research, 56(2), 244-257.
||Recent decades have been marked by an extensive movement to analyze bias in people’s thinking, especially in gender-related issues. Studies have addressed the question of gender bias in classrooms on different levels—the use of gender in books, learning opportunities determined by students’ gender, or teachers’ gender preferences. In this study, we aim to answer the question of whether and under which circumstances the interaction between teacher gender and student gender positively or negatively influences teachers’ evaluations of students’ performance, while controlling for objective measures of students’ performance. For instance, it could be possible that a teacher with the same gender as a student evaluates the student as better than opposite-gender students, independent of their objective performance. The sample consisted of n > 1,500 Finnish 6th grade students (Mage= 12.67) and their respective class teachers. Students completed several academic skills tests, including a mathematical thinking test, reading comprehension test, and scientific reasoning test. Furthermore, teachers provided their evaluation of each student, evaluating students’ performance in different school subjects and answering questions regarding their probability of academic success. To test whether the teacher-student gender interaction had an effect on the criterion variable, i.e. teachers’ evaluation of the students’ performance, multilevel analyses accounting for between- and within-class effects were applied. Thereby, the effect of students’ objective performance on teachers’ evaluation of the students and main effects of gender were controlled for as covariates. The main results indicated that the interaction between student and teacher gender did not influence teachers’ evaluation of the students. However, regardless of their gender, teachers tended to evaluate girls as better than boys in first language performance (i.e. Finnish language) and potential for success in school. Teacher gender did not influence the evaluation. The results of the study suggest that the interaction between teacher and student gender is unlikely to be a source of possible bias in the evaluations of students in the Finnish educational system.|
|Schreiber, C. (2014). The construction of ‘female citizens’: a socio-historical analysis of girls’ education in Luxembourg. Educational Research, (ahead-of-print), 1-18.||This paper will empirically investigate female education in Luxembourg from a historical perspective. A special focus will be laid on the question of how women in Luxembourgian society were constructed as female ‘citizens’, even though they were, rather, considered as a homogeneous category limited to a private sphere separated from the male citizens. The primary purpose of this article is to reveal the narrative of a homogeneous femininity separated from a male sphere associated with citizenship, and the impact this division had on education. Secondly, through the example of Luxembourg, it will show how this narrative served to maintain traditional role allocations, while at the same time linking them to rhetorics of progress – for example, by adding a political dimension to the former ‘private sphere’. Thirdly, this article will demonstrate the heterogeneity which shaped female education, despite the rhetorical homogenization, showing how social and local/regional differences were as influential in determining female education as gender differences. This historical study is based on a longitudinal analysis (contained within a bigger project) of the Luxembourgian curriculum in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The source corpus of this project includes 12,000 historical documents related to curricular negotiations in Luxembourg, which were analysed in a combined quantitative–qualitative analysis. The analysis demonstrated that public and professional discussions about female education undertook a rhetorical homogenization of women and their education, and that this served to conserve existing gender differences in the school system. By strategies of rhetorical scientification and politicization of domestic tasks, traditional role allocations were ascribed a political dimension and interpreted as progressive. However, though claiming universality, the plurality of concepts proves that this homogenization did not reflect reality. The pedagogical concept of ‘the female education’ shows only a few rudimentary features, mainly based on the introduction of obligatory handcraft and domestic education. A social differentiation was already given by the structure of the school system, which – given that there were no secondary schools for girls – meant education in Catholic private schools in the first place. The findings reveal that, by assuming a homogeneous concept of femininity, numerous codifications of female education – unlike those often perceived in literature and public discourse – were not necessarily understood as ‘modernizing’, but rather as conserving female role allocations. The results, however, suggest that female education was far more heterogeneous than rhetorically assumed in the educational debates, and that rather than gender differences, social and regional differences prevailed in determining schooling.|
|Ivinson, G. (2014). How gender became sex: mapping the gendered effects of sex-group categorisation onto pedagogy, policy and practice. Educational Research, 56(2), 155-170.
||The paper plots some shifts in educational policy between 1988 and 2009 in England that launched the rhetoric of a ‘gender gap’ as a key political and social concern. The rhetoric was fuelled by a rise in the importance of quantification in technologies of accountability and global comparisons of achievement. A focus on boys and attainment emerged, along with new requirements for measuring educational achievement in the context of debates about standards and the growing marketisation of education following the 1988 Educational Reform Act (ERA) in England and Wales. Theoretically, the paper explores the effect of ‘gender gap’ rhetoric on pedagogy. The arguments about pedagogy presented here are based on the premise that sex-group is different from gender. Sex-group is a form of labelling and categorising persons as either male or female with reference to a biological classification that focuses on genitalia and reproductive organs. The emergence of ‘gender gap’ rhetoric is investigated within a temporal perspective, through an overview of guidance to teachers about pedagogy published between 1932 and 2007. This temporal lens becomes a heuristic for presenting the main point of the paper, which is that technologies of measurement construct reified representations of the learner. This is used to demonstrate how gender, as a sociocultural and political phenomenon, morphed into sex-group, a biological categorisation, and how this has had unintended effects of pedagogy. Analysis of three landmark educational documents focuses on changes in representations of society, the learner and pedagogy. The documents are the Hadow Report (1931), the Plowden Report (1967) and a guidance document for teachers called ‘Confident, Capable and Creative: supporting boys’ achievements’ (Department for Children, Schools and Families. Analysis demonstrates the way that technologies of measurement construct reified or ‘ideal’ representations of the learner and how technologies used for measuring sex-group difference have changed across time. Shifts in representations of the learner, from the ‘bone child’ to the ‘gene child’ and eventually to the ‘masculine child’ were detected. These shifts represent a gradual decline in the emphasis on pedagogy as nurture, towards a heightened focus on the supposedly innate characteristics of individuals, in line with neoliberalism. The discussion points to some of the unintended effects on pedagogy and practice that take place when gender becomes sex. If teachers are constantly presented with the message that boys and girls learn differently due to innate genetic make-up, they may assume that whatever pedagogic strategies they employ, these will be ineffective in the face of what some educational consultants tell them are boys’ and girls’ innate genetic features. In effect, teachers are being told that biology controls learning and that social and cultural contexts, and thus their own classroom environments, cannot counter the forces of nature. Some methodological implications of studying gender as opposed to sex-group are discussed. The conclusion advocates a shift back to the study of gender as a historical, sociocultural phenomenon.|
|Spinath, B., Eckert, C., & Steinmayr, R. (2014). Gender differences in school success: what are the roles of students’ intelligence, personality and motivation? Educational Research, 56(2), 230-243.
||Education is a key variable for reaching individually and socially desired outcomes. Specifically, school grades are important admission criteria for higher education and job positions. Nowadays, in countries committed to equal opportunities, girls obtain better school grades than boys, but the reasons why girls outperform boys are not well understood. In the following, individual student characteristics (i.e. intelligence, personality, motivation) were investigated as promising candidates that may account for gender differences in school performance. This is a review of research findings on gender differences in performance-related individual students’ characteristics. These findings may help to explain differences in boys’ and girls’ school achievement. It was hypothesised that girls are better adapted to today’s school environment because of their intelligence (general, specific), personality (Big Five) and motivation (ability self-concept, interest or intrinsic values, goal orientations). To investigate this hypothesis, we reviewed literature with respect to five questions: (1) How strongly are intelligence, personality and motivation associated with school achievement? (2) Are there mean level differences between boys and girls in these characteristics? (3) Do these characteristics show gender differences in predicting school achievement? (4) Can gender differences in these characteristics explain the association between gender and school achievement? (5) Are gender differences in these characteristics causally related to differences in boys’ and girls’ school achievement? We mainly based our review on meta-analyses and literature reviews. If no meta-analyses or reviews were available, we reported results of representative single studies, including results from our own studies. To illustrate the magnitude of gender differences, we also reported statistical parameters (correlation coefficients, effect sizes and regression coefficients). Concerning the five research questions, we found that, first, among the characteristics investigated here, general intelligence, ability self-concepts and self-discipline were the most important predictors of school performance. Second, gender differences in students’ individual characteristics varied from non-existent (e.g. general intelligence) to strong (e.g. self-discipline). Third, there was no indication that these characteristics were differently important for boys’ and girls’ school performance. Fourth, gender differences in intelligence, personality and motivation partially mediated the association between gender and school achievement but cannot fully explain it. Fifth, whether differences in intelligence, personality and motivation cause performance differences between boys and girls remains unknown because there were no studies that have investigated this question with designs that could test for causal inferences. Gender differences in students’ individual characteristics contribute to a significant extent to gender differences in school performance. Taken together, the effects of gender differences in students’ individual characteristics can partially but not fully account for gender differences in school performance. Girls are somewhat better adapted to today’s school environments, especially because of their better verbal intelligence, higher Agreeableness, stronger self-discipline, as well as certain aspects of their motivation. In light of these specific differences, it is argued that changing certain aspects of school environments might help boys to better succeed in school and, thus, reduce educational inequality.
|Hadjar, A., & Aeschlimann, B. (2015). Gender stereotypes and gendered vocational aspirations among Swiss secondary school students. Educational Research, 57(1), 22-42.
||Horizontal gender inequalities appear to be rather stable, with girls more often choosing ‘female’ service professions, and boys choosing career paths related to science, technology, engineering or Mathematics. Non-egalitarian patriarchal gender-role orientations and gender associations (perceived femininity) of the school subjects German Language Arts and Mathematics are theorised – triangulating different theoretical backgrounds – and empirically analysed as a major predictor of gender-typical vocational aspirations, considering interest in these school subjects as a mediating factor. Furthermore, we focus on a patriarchal relation of father’s and mother’s workforce participation as a root of gender-role orientations, and teacher gender in regard to its impact on gendered images of subjects. Empirical analyses are based on survey data from eighth-graders (around the ages of 14 and 15 at the time of data gathering) in the Swiss canton of Bern. The sample only encompasses children from two-parent families, as patriarchality in terms of differences in workforce participation between father and mother is taken into account. The research issues are analysed employing structural equation models. The statistical package Mplus allows for an analysis of the two dependent dichotomous variables ‘gender-typical vocational aspiration’ and ‘gender-atypical vocational aspiration’. The hierarchic structure of the sample (school class clusters) is taken into account. Findings reveal different patterns for boys and girls; for boys, gender-typical (male) vocational aspiration could be explained to a small extent via gender-role orientations, interest in Mathematics and gender associations of school subjects; for girls, the factors under consideration could be empirically linked to ‘atypical vocational aspiration’. Teacher gender only has an impact among girls: if girls are taught by a female Mathematics teacher, they perceive the subject as a bit more female and show a higher interest in this subject. Their likelihood of having a gender-atypical vocational aspiration is a bit higher than among girls with a male Mathematics teacher who perceive the subject as a bit less female and, thus, show somewhat lower interest in this subject. There are still links – although weak – between gender stereotypes and vocational aspirations. Gender-role orientations are rooted in the family. A sensitisation towards gender stereotypes and their impact on aspirations and career would appear to be meaningful in broadening the vocational perspectives of men and women.|
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