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In terms of perceptions and preconceptions regarding the various genders, society has advanced significantly throughout the years. Gender equality in education has been one particular subject that has generated heated discussion, harsh criticism, and significant worry. Girls being admitted to Ivy League universities was considered strange and a contentious issue by skeptics on both sides of the argument two centuries ago. It's interesting to note that more women than men are currently enrolled in college, according to recent findings from numerous studies. Despite this, many people think that girls have lower academic aptitude than guys. These assertions are adequately supported by the available data. Many teachers believe boys are better and as a result even treat them differently in the classrooms without their conscious knowledge. There is thus need to conduct a survey and prove the hypothesis that boys are better than girls as most people believe, right or wrong.
Key Words: Gender, Stereotypes, Academic, Research, Evidence.
Do Males and Females Believe that Boys and Girls are Different Academically?
Society has made great strides over the centuries as far as perceptions and stereotypes about the different genders are concerned. One particular issue that has been a cause for serious debates and sharp criticism and raised a lot of concern has been gender equality in education (Oakley, 2015). Two centuries ago, admitting girls to Ivy leagues universities was peculiar and a topic that raised hell among critics on both sides of the debate. Interestingly, recent findings from various researches indicate that the greater proportions of college students in this day and age are women (Oakley, 2015). This is a complete paradigm shift from what was the norm in the past. At some point, women were even not allowed to attend schools. They were considered as domestic servants, and their role was limited to bearing children and being housewives. Certain careers, it was unthinkable to even imagine that a woman could venture into, such as being doctors or engineers. Presently, opportunities to all sorts of careers are open to both genders. In other words, currently, the massive academic hurdles that hindered women have been cleared and there seems to be great progress that has been made as far as gender equality in matters of education is concerned. However, the fight to do away with gender stereotypes and perception that girls and boys are different academically seems to be far from over. There is still considerable believe that boys and girls are different academically. The purpose of this paper is to propose a research on this issue based on evidence gathered from various scholarly articles that are authoritative on this matter.
Justification and Evidence of this Perception
About a century ago there were preposterous claims, some even made by distinguished men in society who backed their suggestion with what they considered scientific evidence to keep women away classrooms. One such claim was that education as is requires intense concentration and this is harmful for women’s health. Doctors would go ahead and claim that education redirected the blood to the brains and this they said was harmful to the women as it cut off blood supply to the ovaries which would jeopardize their health (Sax, 2017). Now being the twenty first century, such prepositions have been thwarted and many women have a great desire to receive an education and some have surpassed even males in academic fields. Yet, a worrying issue is that, the same stereotypes that are expected to have dwindled by now still stand and both genders have an attitude regarding the males and females as to what they can or cannot achieve academically. For example, some believe that boys are better at mathematics than girls, and this perception continues to reflect year in year out on the SAT and ACT scores (Sax, 2017). These scores in exams also reveal great gap between the performances of both genders with the boys being ahead of the girls considerably. Therefore, this brings up the question, why the difference? Is it a difference in abilities or rather environment?
To further support this narrative, scholars have come up with four specific factors that play a critical role in advancing this notion that girls and boys are different academically. These four factors will be explored and analyzed in how they contribute to the advancement of this belief. The first and which seems to advance the others is a teacher believing that girls are of lesser academic ability. Another factor is that there seems to be a difference in the kind and level of attention that teachers offer boys as compared to their girls counterparts. Thirdly, there is what is referred to as classroom risk behavior and girls have been said to lack it. Lastly among factors that contribute to a difference in perception of males and females regarding to differences in academic ability between girls and boys is lack of confidence among girls to believe that they can beat boys in academics.
Let us consider the first suggested evidence that proves there is indeed a belief among both women and men that boys and girls are different academically; that of teachers believing this to be true. According to research, a teacher’s behavior will be influenced by the belief that they hold regarding something. Also, this same study found out that, most teachers are at the forefront of believing that there are vast differences in the academic abilities of girls and boys. Interestingly, the teachers were found to vehemently hold onto the belief that girls could not outsmart boys and in cases where they did, these were just isolated incidents (Retelsdorf, Schwartz and Asbrock, 2015). Unfortunately, this same perception is passed onto students and they end up taking this lie and biased opinion as the truth. Students end up believing that indeed boys are better than girls. As far as this goes, when students take their exams, due to that internal self believe that a certain gender is better than another, even the test results will agree with this assumption.
The other evidence to suggest the existence of a gender biased perception about the academic performance between boys and girls was a phenomenon that was found to be so subtle that no teacher would ever intentionally realize it to be there; the phenomenon of biasing and directing more attention towards boys in a classroom and less attention to the girls. It was found that, unintentionally, teachers interact differently with boys and also differently with girls (James, 2015). The study found that teachers tend to focus more on the boys in a classroom where both genders are present and also give more frequent attention to the boys. There was no indication that the boys wanted this attention but the difference was found to impact the girls negatively.
Another fundamental factor in proving that indeed there are gender perceptions characterized to boys and girls, is the aspect of differences in behavior between the boys and girls while in the classroom. According to educational psychologists, classrooms are an appropriate place for children to develop fully and be able to discover who they are meant to be in the future. As a result, within the classroom risky behavior is highly encouraged as it is said that this encourages the children to be more fully developed (Shapiro, Grossman, Carter, Martin, Deyton and Hammer, 2015). Among these considered risky behaviors is the raising of hands in the classroom and answering and asking questions. Apparently, most girls do not engage in this behavior and thus teachers and psychologists alike conclude that the girls tend to develop less and this reflects in their grades whereby they are usually lower than those of the boys.
Last among the evidence that people have a biased opinion about the different genders academic abilities, is that girls have been found to be less confident in the classroom and generally in their approach to academic issues. It has been said that attitude and motivation are essential in achieving success in anything. However, often you will find that girls have a negative attitude towards academics especially science and mathematics courses. That in itself shows as an indicator that they believe they cannot succeed in this areas which further reinforces the idea to others that boys and girls are different academically (Shapiro, Grossman, Carter, Martin, Deyton and Hammer, 2015).
Need for a Comprehensive Study on this Matter
The evidence suggested above is an indicator of how crucial it is for a research study to be conducted further to dispel this belief that boys are better than girls academically and to also bring further evidence that this is not true. One helpful methodology that can be used to generate data is to conduct a survey in an institution and distribute survey questions among both the students and also the academic staff. A survey that entails collecting answers within two or three minutes would suffice this will also ensure that it will be done large scale as more people would be willing to be involved since the survey does not take much of their time. Important attributes that can be included in the survey include demographic data whether they are male or female and information regarding their belief on their ability to succeed compared to other genders. Also a portion can used to ask why they have this perception. The research hypothesis for this survey will be that males and females have a different perception regarding the academic abilities of boys and that of girls. Whereby males believe boys are more superior academically to their female counterparts.
James, A. N. (Ed.). (2015). Teaching the male brain: How boys think, feel, and learn in school. Corwin Press.
Oakley, A. (2015). Sex, gender and society. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..
Retelsdorf, J., Schwartz, K., & Asbrock, F. (2015). “Michael can’t read!” Teachers’ gender stereotypes and boys’ reading self-concept. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(1), 186.
Sax, L. (2017). Why Gender Matters, Revised and Updated: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. Harmony.
Shapiro, M., Grossman, D., Carter, S., Martin, K., Deyton, P., & Hammer, D. (2015). Middle School Girls and the “Leaky Pipeline” to Leadership: An Examination of How Socialized Gendered Roles Influences the College and Career Aspirations of Girls Is Shared as well as the Role of Middle Level Professionals in Disrupting the Influence of Social Gendered Messages and Stigmas. Middle School Journal, 46(5), 3-13.
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