Gender Inequality Within The Education System

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Gender Inequality within the education system has always been very prevalent. Even though attempts have been made to counter the situation, there are still many problems regarding gender inequality within society & within the education system. Recent data shows that primary school boys are now struggling to keep up with girls academically and keep up with their key curriculum milestones. By Key Stage 2 ( 7 to 11 years ) girls are getting higher scores in their tests. “ In 2015, 83% of girls achieved a level 4 or higher, whereas only 77% of boys in the same age group were able to obtain a level 4 or higher. These trends continued up to GCSE level, with around 10% more girls earning 5 or more A* – C grades than boys who were achieving the same standard. “ There are also major issues with the staffing in British schools today, only 15% of primary school teachers and support staff are male and some schools do not have any male teachers at all. This means that there are many young boys that are now lacking a positive male role model within their school.

In the period 2016/17 only 55.5% of males received 1 or more qualification at level 6 or higher, compared to 67.2% of females. Also, particular subjects tend to be male/female dominated. Attainment statistics from 2018 show that 671 males received an A at higher level in computing science compared to 169 for females. In addition, there were 108 females who received an A at higher level in childcare and development compared to 1 male. A reason why there is links between gender and attainment within certain subjects could possibly be due to the fundamental materials of the subjects being gendered. Many studies have demonstrated that, particularly in STEM subjects, women are majorly unrepresented in the teaching materials. In addition, subjects tend to be male and female dominated in terms of teaching staff. Statistics published by The General Teaching Council Scotland in 2006 show that 95.3% of home economic teachers were female and 75.7% of physics teachers were male. The Scottish Government have implemented a toolkit for education which aims to re-assess and evaluate curriculum and encourage relationships with education staff and parents in order to ensure gender equality within schools. However, it could be argued that an equal representation of both genders in terms of the teaching staff and materials would encourage more participation in subjects from both male and female students and help to close the attainment gap. One way the Government could achieve this through offering incentives in order to attract teachers to particular jobs.

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Feminist sociologists believe that gender inequality is the result of patriarchy, meaning woman are subordinate because men have more power. Feminists also believe that the patriarchy is reinforced by men using education as an agent of secondary socialization. Sociologists Heaton and Lawson (1996) argue that the ‘hidden’ curriculum plays a huge part in gender socialization within education. Certain gender groups are targeted by specific subjects, for example home economics would be aimed at girls doing housework and cooking. Even though the subject name has been changed to Food Technology in many schools, feminists still argue that the subject is intended to ‘snare’ young girls into conforming with the ideals of the patriarchal society.  

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