Why are girls succeeding at school?
There are many varied reasons and theories to explain why girls do better in the educational system when compared to boys. Girls tend to outperform boys at GCSE though the gap narrows when AS and A2 results are analysed. This narrowing at post-16 may simply be because the boys that Paul Willis labelled as ‘ear oles’ left immediately after their GCSE’s and left the more able boys to enter Sixth Form/Upper School. Therefore, it could be argued that the analysis of results at AS and A2 are done on a more level playing field and that the results at GCSE are slanted because they have to take into account the ‘ear oles’. The reasons why girls do better than boys include:
1. Changing Attitudes: Girls attitudes towards education, work and marriage have changed dramatically over the last century and corresponds to the involvement women have in society. Sue Sharpe compared these new attitudes of working-class girls in London schools in the 70’s and 90s. She found that the 90’s girls were more confident, more assertive, more ambitious and more committed to gender equality. Whereas the main priorities of the 70’s girls were love, marriage, husbands and children.
- Changes in the Adult World: There are an increasing number of women in the work place, therefore girls are more likely to work harder to achieve their ambitions and become an ‘independent women’ rather than following in their mothers footsteps.
- Changes in Schools: The abolition of the 11+ by LEA’s means girls cannot be ‘artificially’ failed; Sexism has died out in schools, with teachers recognising, and preferring to teach girls than boys. Over the past 20 years there has been a growing proportion of females choosing to study in further or higher education than in years previous. (Social trends 2003)
- Over the past 20 years there has been a growing proportion of females choosing to study in further or higher education than in years previous. (Social trends 2003)
- Around twenty years ago it was the norm to expect young intelligent females to leave education at the earliest opportunity (age 16) to commence a so called ‘stop gap’ job, which they hoped would prepare them for marriage and motherhood. These jobs were generally low paid and were most commonly found in the ‘typing’ field of work.
- Recently, improvements of choices for many female students have increased considerably. The aspirations of many young females now concentrate on education and employment. These girls no longer aspire to be housewives and being dependent on their spouses. (Sue Sharpe 1994)
- There are now more appealing routes available into employment, these include areas such as, the service industries, media jobs and information technology.
- These new opportunities provide a ‘workplace paradise’ for the young women of today who are no longer discriminated against as much as before. There are widening opportunities in a new improved genderless, barrier-free world of employment and no preference for a fully-male employment system.
- The messages driving women as a whole to strive for such differences in the education and employment systems are displayed in the form of iconic female figures such as ‘Lara Croft’ in Tomb Raider. ‘Lara Croft’ can be considered as a strong, independent, no nonsense role model for the women in today's society. The influence of ‘Girl Power’ drives women on in their quest for equality and identity in employment.
10. Governments have introduced girl-specific courses into schools to encourage their interest in subjects that were seen as being traditionally for boys: ‘Girls Into Science and Technology’ [GIST] and ‘Women Into Science and Engineering’ [WISE] are two of the most prominent. Also up to 2011, many exam courses at GCSE level had an element of coursework attached to them and research clearly indicates that girls are better at coursework at a general level when compared to boys.
Courtesy of Lee Bryant, Director of Sixth Form, Anglo-European School, Ingatestone, Essex
"Why are girls succeeding at school?". HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 2011. Web.