The improved performance of girls in education has many possible explanations.Outside School FactorsChanging Cultural Attitudes
Sharpe noted in the 1970's that most girls had limited
aspirations, were more interested in
and family, and in school were steered towards subjects like domestic science and secretarial courses. Sharpe suggested that this was a reflection of existing attitudes and ideologies. By the 1990's attitudes and ideologies had changed dramatically.The importance of Feminism
Feminist writers such as Millett (1970), Greer (1971) and Oakley (1974) have had a distinct effect on the way girls see themselves. Their work challenged a number of
about biology determining destiny, and emphasised how
predominated throughout all of British society including educational institutions. By the 1990's far more girls were looking beyond family life to having their own careers.Awareness of sexism in the home
The need to avoid sexist stereotyping in parenting has become an important issue in the 1990's. This was assisted by earlier legislation aimed to end gender discrimination against women e.g. The Sex
Act 1975. It has been argued that this greater awareness has resulted in the improved educational attainment of girls. It has yet to be reflected in equal career opportunities for women however as
are still underrepresented in "top jobs"Economic Changes
Since 1996 there has been a growth of about half a million white collar service industry jobs which have offered new
for women. At the same time there has been a steady decline in traditional "male" jobs in heavy industry and manufacturing - e.g. iron and steel, coal mining.
Arguably service industry jobs of the type identified rely heavily on things girls appear good at - communication and language skills, cooperation, organisation, flexibility and sociability. Girls may therefore be achieving in education because their skills are in demand in the
.Factors Inside SchoolThe Curriculum
There have been a number of social
curriculum initiatives designed to put right discrimination and sexism in schools.
1. Women into Science and Engineering (WISE)
2. Girls and Technology Education (GATE)
3. Girls into Science and Technology (GIST)
4. Computer Club for Girls
These social policies and initiatives have tried to encourage girls into what had previously been regarded as
areas of the Curriculum.
In 1988 the Education Reform Act introduced a National
which gave boys and girls and equal entitlement to all subjects regardless of gender. This entitlement is monitored by
It has also been suggested that revisions to GCSE and A level exams with the introduction of
favour conscientious girls working consistently throughout the course rather than competitive boys competing in a final
Furthermore textbooks and resources are now far less likely to carry gender
and teachers trained recently are more aware of the dangers of gender stereotyping. Negative
of girls should now be far less widespread.The Teaching Profession
Mitsos and Browne (1998) have suggested that teaching has become
. Women form the large majority of school teachers especially in primary schools. They argue that this gives girls positive
models of educational achievement and may be an important factor in boys being "turned off" school and
How is WISE trying to get more girls involved in Science and Technology?
How successful do you think this approach will be?
Is such an approach fair on boys??Click Here and examine the Website of WISE