Schools guilty of gender stereotyping, researchers claim

 

Half of state-funded schools in England are paying too little attention to the way gender stereotypes influence subject choices, researchers have claimed.

Forty-nine per cent of co-educational secondary schools are strengthening the gender divide, with just 19% actively bridging the gap by explaining the universal appeal of typically "boy" or "girl" subjects, an Institute of Physics (IOP) study found.

The group analysed pupils' transition from GCSE to A-level, where students are invited to pick a small handful of subjects to study from age 16 to 18. Their research, published under the title Closing Doors, found gender bias in six subjects.

Maths, economics and physics are traditionally male-dominated and biology, psychology and English are favoured by girls, the report claims. In response, researchers suggested almost half of all state schools are doing too little to counter the stereotypical reputation of subjects.

Professor Peter Main, director of education and science at IOP, told the BBC: "What we're saying is schools should be doing much more to counter that gender stereotyping so that when pupils make their choices for A-level they do so with a level playing field.

"We're not saying pupils should chose subjects they don't want to do, but what we are saying is that schools should do their best to counter these gender-stereotyping effects.

"Forty-nine per cent (of schools) are making it worse, 81% are maintaining the national figures, so it's possibly even more severe. I don't think there is any school that's sitting down, saying 'Let's create gender stereotypes'. I don't think that's true at all.

"I think what is happening is that pupils are being subjected to external factors and schools are just not putting the effort in to counter these factors. A good start, in fact, would be for the schools to get their figures - to look at their own statistics - and set themselves targets that might work in future."

He added: "Schools that stop teaching at GCSE are much worse at countering gender stereotypes than those that teach A-level and continuing until 18.

"It's going to take whole-school initiatives to overcome these biases. We found that where a school is good at overcoming an imbalance in one subject, they are usually good at doing so in all the other five subjects.

"And, although the national picture is dismal, there is a silver lining in that some schools have demonstrated that they have been able to overcome these barriers."

PA

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in