London Metropolitan University Research Institutes
 

Gender - related perceptions and causal attributions regarding school achievement

Author(s) Dulau, T., Secui, M. & Danciu, M.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2009  
Editor P. Cunningham, Human Rights and Citizenship Education  
Age group -  
Keywords/Abstract
Gender roles have a powerful impact on educational system, influencing children’s and adolescents’ beliefs about their academic potential. Our study focuses on gender differences and similarities in students’ perceptions of two school subjects, mathematics and language arts, and in students’ explanations of the performances obtained in these areas within the frame of Weiner’s causal attribution theory (1985). A total of 54 girls and 56 boys, 17-19 years old, undertook a questionnaire design for the assessment of mathematics and Romanian language on six bipolar scales, another questionnaire for the attributional style used in explaining the performance in mathematics and Romanian language, based on ability, effort, task difficulty and luck. Also the subjects were asked to estimate their performance, after the completion of two tasks, based on verbal and spatial abilities. The evaluations made by our participants sustain the presence of gender stereotyped perceptions of these academic subjects: mathematics is seen as masculine, and Romanian language as feminine. In explaining the school achievement, girls, comparing to boys, granted a higher importance to personal efforts and luck. Also girls had a higher tendency to underestimate their results obtained in task designed to assess verbal abilities. The results indicate that girls emphasized the importance of an external, unstable and unpredictable explanatory factor for success, and had lower performance expectations regarding the level of verbal abilities. Our findings emphasize the cultural diversity issue, and draw attention to the consequences of “modesty training” and gender stereotypes threat on the girls learning opportunities and career development.
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