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At all levels women are achieving higher representation and success. At the post-secondary level women are earning most of the degrees awarded.
Worldwide, men are more likely to be literate, with 100 men considered literate for every 88 women. In some countries the difference is even greater; for example, in Bangladesh only 62 women are literate for every 100 men.
In an OECD study of 43 developed countries, 15-year-old girls were ahead of boys in literacy skills and were more confident than boys about getting high-income jobs.. In the United States, girls are significantly ahead of boys in writing ability at all levels of primary and secondary education. However, boys are slightly ahead of girls in mathematics ability.
In the United States, the 2005 averages saw male to female university participants at a 43 to 57 ratio (Marklein, 2005). Also, in 2005-2006, women earned more Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's degrees than men, but men earned more Doctorates. This is repeated in other countries; for example, women make up 58% of admissions in the UK and 60% in Iran. In Canada the 15% gender gap in university participation favoured women (Christofides, Hoy, and Yang, 2006)
Sex discrimination in education is applied to women in several ways. First, many sociologists of education view the educational system as an institution of social and cultural reproduction[need quotation to verify]. The existing patterns of inequality, especially for gender inequality, are reproduced within schools through formal and informal processes.
A 2010 study published in Time Magazine showed that when comparing young, unattached women against similarly situated men, women tend to earn up to 20% more than their male counterparts.
Another way the educational system discriminates towards females is through course-taking, especially in high school. This is important because course-taking represents a large gender gap in what courses males and females take, which leads to different educational and occupational paths between males and females. For example, females tend to take fewer advanced mathematical and scientific courses, thus leading them to be ill-equipped to pursue these careers in higher education. This can further be seen in technology and computer courses.
University researchers conducted a study to compare men and women’s abilities to use a computer when there is a stereotype threat involved. The experiment was set up to result in failure for each participant. In the first part of the study each participant was given a questionnaire to fill out in order for the researchers to understand how much background knowledge participants had. Results showed that more males than females stated that they owned a computer and that they spent more of their time on a computer. For the second part of the experiment each participant was given a piece of writing either showing a positive threat, a negative threat or no threat at all on males succeeding in technology. Each participant read these scenarios before proceeding to the third part. In the third step of this experiment each participant was given a task to save a file from the Internet and convert it to a flash drive. What the participants didn’t know is that they were given a faulty flash drive. The majority of the males blamed their failure on technological issues that they could not control and the majority of the females blamed it on their ability to correctly convert the file. After reading examples that showed men excelling more before performing the task, this lead women to believe that they could not perform as well. The researchers found that when this stereotype threat of was present, the females thought that they did worse.
Also, cultural norms may also be a factor causing sex discrimination in education. For example, society suggests that women should be mothers and be responsible for the bulk of child rearing. Therefore, women feel compelled to pursue educational pathways that lead to occupations that allow for long leaves of absences, so they can be stay at home mothers.
A hidden curriculum may further add to discrimination in the educational system. The concept of the hidden curriculum refers to the idea that teachers interact with and teach each of their students in a way that reinforces relations of gender, as well as race and social class. For example, teachers may give more attention to boys, thus encouraging them to speak up in class and become more social. Conversely, girls may become quieter and learn that they should be passive and defer to their male classmates. Students may also be socialized for their expected adult roles through the correspondence principle laid out by sociologists including Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis. Girls may be encouraged to learn skills valued in female-dominated fields, while boys might learn leadership skills for male-dominated occupations. For example, as they move into the secondary and post-secondary phases of their education, boys tend to gravitate more toward STEM courses than their female classmates.
Discrimination results in a substantial gender gap in pay towards women (.75 cents for every dollar that men make), for the most part, being in low status, sex-stereotyped occupations, which in part is due to gender differences in majors. They also have to endure the main responsibilities of domestic tasks, even though their labor force participation has increased. Sex discrimination in high school and college course-taking also results in women not being prepared or qualified to pursue more prestigious, high paying occupations. Sex discrimination in education also results in women being more passive, quiet, and less assertive, due to the effects of the hidden curriculum.
However, in 2005, USA Today reported that the "college gender gap" was widening; stating that fifty-seven percent of U.S. college students are female. By 2010 nearly 60 per cent of bachelor's degrees in the US went to women.
Since the 1990s, enrollment on university campuses across Canada has risen significantly. Most notable is the soaring rates of female participants, which has surpassed the enrollment and participation rates of their male counterparts (Christofides et al., 2006). Even in the United States, there is a significant difference in the male to female ratio in campuses across the country, where the 2005 averages saw male to female university participants at 43 to 57 (Marklein, 2005). Although it's important to note that the rates of both sexes participating in post-secondary studies is increasing, it's equally important to question why female rates are increasing more rapidly than male participation rates. Christofides, Hoy, and Yang (2006) attempt to explain the 15% male to female gap in Canadian universities with the idea of the University Premium. Drolet (2007) further explains this phenomena in his article, "Minding the Gender Gap": "A university degree has a greater payback for women relative to what they could have earned if they only had a high-school diploma because men traditionally have had more options for jobs that pay well even without post-secondary education."
Booth, Johns, and Bruce (2004) draw attention to the facts that at both national and international levels "male students do not do as well as girls in reading and writing and appear more often in special education classes, dropout rates and are less likely to go to university" (7). Boys face a multitude of difficulties when it comes to literacy and the article lists some of the possible areas of literacy education where these difficulties could stem from. These include, but are not limited to, their own gender identity, social and cultural issues, religion, technology, school cultures, teaching styles, curriculum, and the failures of pre-service and in-service teaching courses (8). It is also important to consider two aspects of boys and literacy education as raised in the Booth article that draws from the work of Smith and Wilhelm (2002). The first is achievement. Boys typically take longer to learn than girls do, although they excel over females when it comes to "information retrieval and work-related literacy tasks"(9). It is important, therefore, for the teacher to provide the appropriate activities to highlight boys' strengths in literacy and properly support their weaknesses. Also, boys tend to read less than girls in their free time. This could play a role in the fact that girls typically "comprehend narrative and expository texts better than boys do"(9). In his book "Grown Up Digital" Tapscott (2009) suggests that there are other methods to consider in order to reach boys when it comes to literacy: "Boys tend to be able to read visual images better... study from California State University (Hayword) saw test scores increase by 11 to 16% when teaching methods were changed to incorporate more images" (106). Smith and Wilhelm (2002) highlight that boys typically have a "lower estimation of their reading abilities" than girls do.
Schools are not philiosophical, social or cultural vacuums. The social structure of many schools do not produce adequate results for many boys. Many parents who home school their children observe that there is a smaller gender divide in academic test results. One study by the HSLDA revealed homeschooled boys (87th percentile) and girls (88th percentile) scored equally well. Racial disparity and disparity based on socioeconomic background is also less pronounced. A major factor in student achievement is whether a parent had attained a tertiary education.
(1)Booth D., Bruce F., Elliott-Johns S. (February 2009) Boys' Literacy Attainment: Research and related practice. Report for the 2009 Ontario Education Research Symposium. Centre for Literacy at Nipissing University. Retrieved from Ontario Ministry of Education website: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/research/boys_literacy.pdf
(2)Chapman, Amanda (April 15, 2008). "Gender Bias in Education". Retrieved April 4, 2013.
(3)Christofides L., Hoy M., Yang L. (2006). Participation in Canadian Universities: The gender imbalance (1977–2005). Elsevier: Economics of Education Review, 29-2010, 400-410.
(4)Droulet, D. (2007, September) Minding the Gender Gap. Retrieved from University Affairs website: http://www.universityaffairs.ca/minding-the-gender-gap.aspx
(6)Marklein, M. (2005, October) College Gender Gap Widens: 57% are Women. USA Today. Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2005-10-19-male-college-cover_x.htm
(7)Martino W. (April 2008) Underachievement: Which Boys are we talking about? What Works? Research into Practice. The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat. Retrieved from Ontario Ministry of Education website: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/Martino.pdf
(8)Pearson, Jennifer. "Gender, Education and." Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Ritzer, George (ed). Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Blackwell Reference Online. 31 March 2008 <http://www.blackwellreference.com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/subscriber/tocnode?id=g9781405124331_chunk_g978140512433113_ss1-16>
(10)Tapscott, D. (2009) Grown Up Digital. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
(11)"Federal and State Agencies Target Governors State University in Reverse Discrimination Investigation" Chicago Tribune. February 5, 2012. http://www.chicagotribune.com/ Retrieved February 5, 2012.