Gender Differential in Academic Performance

A case study of Lekhnath Metropolitan city

Master's Thesis, 2017

67 Pages, Grade: A









1.1 The Context
1.2 Statement of Problem
1.3 Research Rationale
1.4 Research Objective
1.5 Research Hypothesis
1.6 Limitation of the study
1.7 Organization of the Study

2.1 Definition
2.2. Theoretical background of the study
2.3. Gender and conceptions of equality in relation to education
2.4. Social factors which influence girls’ and boys’ performance and behavior
2.5 Teaching learning (reading) materials
2.6. Subject preference and choice
2.7. Motivational and psychological issues
2.8. School environment
2.9. Teacher attitudes
2.10. Review of empirical studies


4.1. Study Area
4.2. Nature and Sources of Data
4.3. Research design
4.4. Population
4.5. Sample size
4.6. Sampling procedure
4.7. Data collection procedure
4.8. Analytical framework

5.1. Socio-demographic Profile of the Respondents
5.2. Schools environment
5.3. Academic performance of the students
5.4. Types of school and academic performance
5.5. Information regarding gender differentiates in academic performance
5.6. Association of independent variables with student performance
5.7. Association of student performance with type of school
5.8. Association of student performance with gender
5.9 Factors associated to academic performance


7.1 Summary
7.2. Conclusion
7.3. Recommendation




Table 5.1: Socio-demographic characteristics wise distribution of the respondents

Table 5.2: Information regarding schools and school’s environment

Table 5.3: Students’ academic performance

Table 5.4: Caste ethnicity wise academic performance

Table 5.5: Religion wise academic performance

Table 5.6: Monthly income wise academic performance

Table 5.7: Mothers’ education wise academic performance

Table 5.8: Academic performance between public and private school

Table 5.9: Students task completion between public and private school

Table 5.10: Attendance differences between public and private school

Table 5.11: Assertiveness differences between public and private

Table 5.12: Gender differential in academic performance

Table 5.13: Gender differential in academic performance

Table 5.14: Gender differential in task completion

Table 5.15: Gender differential in attendance

Table 5.16: Gender differential in assertiveness

Table 5.17: Association of academic performance and gender among public

Table 5.18: Association of academic performance and gender among Private

Table 5.19: Association of independent variables with student performance in exam

Table 5.20: Association of student performance with type of school

Table 5.21: Association of student performance with gender

Table 5.22: Bivariate analysis of Socio demographic characteristics and academic performance

Table 5.23: Bivariate analysis of Family environment and Academic performance

Table 5.24: Bivariate analysis of School environment in related to Academic performance

Table 5.25: Bivariate analysis of Student characteristics in related to Academic performance


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Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


It is my pleasure to get this opportunity to conduct the dissertation on ‘ Gender Differential on Students’ Academic Performance: A Comparative Study Between Public and Private Schools in Lekhnath Municipality’. Firstly I am very thankful to my dissertation supervisor Dr. Ajay Thapa for his guidance, support, suggestion and co-operation throughout the completion of this research. I am also grateful to all the lecturers for kind support during the research.

Special thanks goes to my guardians Mr. Surya Bahadur Parajuli and Mrs. Sita Parajuli for always supporting me and my work. I must not forget Mr. Binod Baral, my husband, for his undue support. I want to express my gratitude for Mrs. Januka Parajuli, my sister for her inspiration and caring in every step of my life.

I would also like to thank Prof. Dr. Indra Prasad Tiwari, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Pokhara University and all the faculties including Dr. Ram Prasad Aryal, Dr. Rishikesh Pandey, Dr. Ananta Dhungana, Mr. Badri Aryal and Mr. Yuvraj Tripathi for their invaluable and regular feedbacks.

Sincere gratitude goes to all those who have contributed in one way or another to the successful completion of this work. Their assistance, advice, encouragement and moral support are appreciated. At last, but not the least I would like to acknowledge all the people who helped me directly or indirectly to accomplish the task as a student researcher.

September, 2017

Mankumari Parajuli


Academic achievement is important because it prepares students for future careers . One of the most important reasons to analyze factors affecting academic performance is due to its significant influence on academic motivation and use of them for increasing academic success. The aim of this study was to analyze gender differentials on academic performance in public and private schools. A school based descriptive cross sectional study was conducted among 240 students in public and private school in Lekhnath Municipality. Information was collected through semi structured questionnaire and secondary data sheet. The mean age of respondents was fourteen years. The sex of the respondent was equally half. More than one third of the respondents were Brahmin/Chhetri and Janajati and following by Dalit. Gender of respondent is not significantly associated with student’s performance. Percentage of student in exam, task completion and assertiveness were significantly associated with public and private school. Students from the public school are likely to get a second division than private school while students from the private school likely to get first division and above. This study concluded that more than half of the students from lower economic status of the family achieved first division in exam. Illiterate mothers didn’t assess their children performance because majority of the student got a distinction. Regarding gender, there was little bit difference in academic performance of male and female. School environment is major factors of student’s performance that are infrastructure of school, insufficient materials in lab and library, teaching procedure and technological facilities. Students from the private school were found quite well performers in exam than government school. Public school was not worst but there was lacking of student attendance, task completion and participating academic performance. Recommendation of this study are the teacher on the public school should be instructed about making task completion compulsory and regular checking should be enforced; to strengthen the quality public school, students should be encouraged for regular attendance; focus on good performance of those people who are so called Dalit on the academic sector government should make investment for the higher education of these group.


1.1 The Context

The socio-economic development is a main thrust of the State. Unless the development is based on inclusive approach, the process of development remains incomplete. For inclusive development, gender development should be taken as a backbone. The goal of gender development in such context is to achieve a social development whereby, both male and female have equal opportunities in all aspects of social life including, education, health, economy, social position, and recognition. In Nepal, the situation is still very far away. The social status of women/girl in Nepal is generally low, a situation attributable to both the general poverty of the country and the gender-biased distribution of power and resources in the family and in society. Nepalese women, in general, have not been able to become active participants in development activities due to illiteracy, poor health, poverty, traditionally conservative attitude towards them and lack of their access to productive resources and information and technology. Discrimination against women/girl begins right from birth. The religious, cultural, traditional beliefs and political scenario promote such discrimination. As a result, wide gender disparity is seen in every sphere of national development.

“Expanding opportunities for and accessibility of women/girl education for enhancing gender equality in education’’ has been one of the objectives of the Education Sector under the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2002-2007). The government of Nepal has received credit and grant from the International Development Association (IDA), a part of World Bank, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Government of Finland, and Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and Department for International Development (DFID) towards the cost of EDUCATION FOR ALL (EFA) program. The program is jointly financed by IDA, DANIDA, Government of Finland, NORAD, DFID and Government of Nepal. Department of Education, Ministry of Education and Sports on behalf of Government of Nepal intends to apply a portion of the loan for a study on the status of gender equalities in school. In this context, the Government of' Nepal has been concentrating on equity in education, as it is committed to achieving gender equality in education by 2015 with a focus on ensuring girls' full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality. This is in line with the Dakar Conference and is also stated in education for all, national plan of action to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls' full and equal access to achievement in basic education of good quality. Millennium Development Goal aims to promote gender equity and women empowerment to eliminate gender disparity from all levels in schools, and to ensure 100 percent enrollment rate (both boys and girls). On the other hand, Sustainable Development Goal ensures complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes for all girls and boys by 2030. Also it further ensures that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education by this period. Similarly, it also ensures equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university by 2030. Also it aims to eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations (UNO, 2015).

1.2 Statement of Problem

Gender inequalities in education have remained a perennial problem of global scope (Bordo, 2001 & UNESCO, 2003). Our society is still patriarchal and gender disparity is high. In every sector boys dominate girls. Girls lag behind. Girls are supposed to be dependent on their parents in every decision making. They don’t have free of choices. They tend to be passive.

Boys are prominence even in the class room. Numerous researches and studies show that teachers praise boys more often. Boys receive more academic help and teachers are more likely to accept boy’s ideas and opinion during class. Because of these inequalities, boys call out in class more often than girls. Gibbs (1994) shows that boys talk more than girls in the classroom at a ratio of three to one. Thus, boys see as an encouragement in taking risks. When boys call out teachers seems to accept boys answer or action whereas when a girl calls out she is reprimanded and is told that calling out is ‘inappropriate behavior’. This strongly sends a powerful message that boys should be more assertive and girls should be passive which leads hostility, alienation, poor school performance, and failure in girls.

Some researchers believe that gender inequality occurs in the classroom because of instructional design. Many teachers unconsciously slip into stereotypical routine or practice that separates that boys and girls. Knupfer (1997:34)) stated “Teachers still persist in the practice of performing lines, determining groups and award winning prizes by gender”. Educational Inequality uncovered it the way problems, school work and exercise are often understood or related to the boy’s lives rather than girls lives.

Spender (1982) argued that teachers throughout school give boys and girls different types of attention. According to her, girls are praised for appearance, good behavior and neat work. She further looked into the argument of gender inequality in education and said, “What is considered inherently interesting is knowledge about men. Because men control the records, and the value system, it is generally believed that it is men who have done all the exciting things, it is men who have made history, made discoveries, made inventions and performed feats of skill and courage – according to men. These are the important activities and only men can engage in them, so we are led to believe. And so it is that the activities of men become the curriculum."

However, in the context of Nepal, despite recognizing gender as a serious concern in almost every sector, there are very limited studies focused on the issues of gender differentials on academic performance of school going children. There are several issues of gender inequalities in education not much answered in Nepal such as how is the academic performance of students in exam?, does gender matter in the academic performance?, is there any difference in the student's academic performance between public and private schools?, and does school environment has significant effects on the gender differentials in students' academic performance?, and does family environment has a significant effects on the academic performance the students? Hence, this study aims to answer the aforementioned research questions in Nepalese context.

1.3 Research Rationale

When the concept of gender mainstreaming is widespread in every spheres of life first it is important to create gender equality in education. Until and unless man and women are in equal line in educational performance gender equality is impossible.

Females are very backward in comparison to males in respect to educational development which has created a wide gap between male and female. It obviously pushes women hundred years back and creates hindrance in social wellbeing and socio-economic development as well.

So, it is important to find out that the performance difference between male and female students resulted from the gender gap. This findings of this study is helpful to policy maker and educationist to follow the right strategies to eliminate the evils occurred by gender gap because government is investing millions of dollar for women empowerment but because of low score of girl in education such investment is being just an wastage. This study can serve as the basis for similar studies about the factor of gender differences in education and learning in the children. In this way the findings of this study contribute to the body of knowledge already existing in the area of gender differences in educational performance in lower secondary students.

1.4 Research Objective

The overall objective of this study is to understand gender differentials on academic performance in public and private schools. Furthermore, the study has following specific objectives:

- To assess the level of academic performance of the students in district level exam (class eight).
- To analyze the difference in the student’s academic performance between public and private schools
- To examine gender differentials in academic performance
- To examine the role of family and school environment in the academic performance of students

1.5 Research Hypothesis

Following hypothesis is set for the research.

H1. Private schools has higher academic performance than public schools.
H2. Female students outperform male students.
H3. Availability of teaching learning material has positive association with student academic performance.
H4. Parent’s education has positive association with children’s academic performance.
H5. Income of the family has positive association with children’s academic performance.
H6. Family size has positive association with children’s academic performance.
H7. School environment has positive association with children’s academic performance.
H8. Teacher’s attitude has positive association with children’s academic performance.

1.6 Limitation of the study

The study is limited to the district level students of Lekhnath municipality. It includes public and private schools of Lekhnath. No distinction has been made between public and community-based schools. For the research only male and female gender has been included, the academic performance of the third gender has not been considered. In this study, only students of the class eight are taken finding of which can’t be applicable for other classes of different age group. The findings of the study are based on the data collected from the students of selected public and private schools in Lekhnath municipality, therefore, one should be cautious in generalizing the findings in other context.

1.7 Organization of the Study

The study is organized broadly into seven chapters: Introduction, Review of Literature, Conceptual Framework, Research Methodology, Data Presentation and Analysis, Findings & Discussion and Summary, Conclusion &Recommendation.

Chapter 1 consists of the short introduction of the national and international scenario of the gender and education. The Context, statement of problem, research rationale, research objective, research hypothesis and limitation of the study are described separately.

In Chapter II reviews of the literature has been given in this chapter, in which definition of the terms like ‘gender’, ‘academic performance’ has been mentioned. Likewise different theoretical background of gender and education like genetic explanation, feminist theory, socialization factors, curriculum factor and postmodern perspective has been put forward. The finding of the different research is also mentioned in this chapter.

In Chapter III conceptual framework of the study has been presented.

Chapter IV covers the research methodology in which study area, research design, population, sample size, sampling procedure, data collection procedure , analytical framework are described in separate heading.

Next Chapter discusses about the data collected by primary research and explained on different empirically.

In Chapter VI Findings & Discussion has been presented & finally in Chapter VII summary, conclusion, and recommendation has been given.


2.1 Definition

Gender means the different role and responsibility assigned to male and female in a particular society. It is different than the concept of sex. Gender roles are defined on the basis of social and cultural circumstances where as sex is biological and the concept of the sex remain same everywhere.

Oxford English dictionary defines gender as the state of being male or female (typically used with references to social and cultural difference rather than biological ones). The word gender has been used since the 14th century as a grammatical term referring to classes of noun designated as masculine, feminine or neuter in some languages. The sense of the state of being males or female has been used since the 14th century but this did not become common until the mid-20th century. Although the words gender and sex both have the sense of the state of being male or female they are typically used in slightly different ways. Similarly sex tends to refer to biological differences while gender refer to cultural and social ones.

Gender refers to socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. To put another way “Males” and “Female” are sex categories and masculine and feminine are gender categories WHO (2002).

It is also refers to the socially constructed characteristic of women and men –such as norms, roles and relationship between group of men and women. It varies from society to society and can be changed. While most people are born male or female they are taught appropriate norms and behavior including how they should interact with others of the same or appositive sex within households, communities and work places. When individuals or groups don’t fit established gender norms they often face stigma, discrimination, practices and social exclusion.

Gender norms, roles and relation influence peoples’ success in different sector like health, education, employment etc.

Academic performance

Academic performance has been defined in a wide variety of ways. According to Joel Kpolovie, Osonwa and Iderima (2014) academic performance is the achievement of students in terms of aggregates obtained in a test or examination in specific subjects that cover a given academic programme. Similarly, Tope (2011) describe academic performance as the pedagogical terminology used in determining learner’s success in formal education which is measures through reports examination, researches and ratings with numerous factors or variables exerting influence.

2.2. Theoretical background of the study

Gender has been investigated as a mainstream issue relatively late in the sociology of education. Prior to the 1970’s, sociological discussion focused mainly upon class differences in attainment. However, with the impact of feminist research during the 1970’s and 1980’s the educational experiences of female students increasingly came to the fore (Wilkinson, 1994). Many sets of explanation have been put forward to account for the observed variations in educational attainment and subject choice.

2.2.1. Genetic explanation

Genetic explanations of gender differences in attainment were influential in psychology during the 1970’s, though the biological determinist approach has a long history. The crucial belief of biological theorists is that gender differences are natural and therefore unalterable. Educationally, then, it would be right and proper to treat boys and girls differently in schools, because their natural inclination are towards different adult roles. Any socially constructed differences between men and women were built upon and constrained by these natural differences. For example, theories were advanced that females excelled at language based subjects because of their greater verbal and reasoning abilities, yet under-performed in math and science based subjects because of lower levels of innate spatial ability, which restricted their understanding of shape and form.

2.2.2. Childhood socialization

Feminists such as Sharpe (1976) maintain that differences in child socialization serve to generate masculine and feminine cultural identities. Secondary agencies of socialization such as the media and peer groups are said to re-enforce gender identities established during primary socialization within the family. For example many teenage magazines targeted at female audiences present ideologies of beauty, marriage, domesticity, and subordination that serve to strengthen the messages of femininity families instill into their female members. Gender socialization of this sort is significant because it helps us to understand why females have traditionally latched onto subjects such as Home Economics, and the Arts, which have a feminized image, rather than subjects such as Technology and Science, which are packaged in a masculine way. Therefore, sex role theorists, such as Bryne (1978) have argued that the cycle of discrimination against women is created by parents and teachers reinforce sex stereotypes, which then become the basis for discriminatory practices.

During the 1980’s a series of research studies challenged the assumptions that girls were socialized into one particular form of femininity, or that girls did not challenge the notions of feminine roles with which they were presented. For example, Cornell (1986) argued that feminism itself had helped to bring about radical changes in the ways girls perceived themselves, so that they no longer constructed their identity in mainly domestic terms. Rather women now saw themselves as much as workers as homemakers.

Riddell (1992) found that school girls had a dual notion of their futures, linking their subject choices at school to the local labor market (especially working class girls) whilst also accepting that motherhood and domesticity were important parts of their identity as women. But the girls in Riddell’s study were not passive in this process of socialization. Rather they absorbed both accepting and undermining messages about traditional female roles. In addition working class and middle-class girls expressed different gender codes, with middle-class girls opting for academic education and thus gaining the approval of the middle-class female teachers who they most closely resembled.

It is also important to note that Riddell found that parent’s conceptions of femininity were also complex and varied according to class position. While middle-class parents were more supportive of the principle of equality of opportunity, middle-class men were most opposed to positive action to achieve it. Working class men were the most supportive of traditional gender roles. In both classes, a minority of mothers strongly supported changes in women’s social position. So the view that there is a uniform socialization into one specific gender code is mistaken. Rather there are conservative and radical views concerning gender roles and different groups of parents choose elements of those agendas in different proportions, which then balance out in their children in different ways.

Other sociologists such as Anne Oakley in Sex Gender and Society (1975) note that girls are treated differently from boys from birth, by the people who care for them. Other studies by Fiona Norman show that girls are expected to play with certain toys, which develop different types of aptitude. These roles may be reflected by aspirations of the children. Research by Sue Sharpe found that girls had set priorities that were unlikely to lead to high importance attached to education.

2.2.3. Gender, Education and the Curriculum: Relevant Perspective

Western feminists in particular have been interested in shaping a progressive position on gender issues in education. Feminism here is defined as the commitment to the political, social, and economic equality of women, which draws on and has instigated a variety of movements, theories, philosophies and campaigns.

Conventionally modern human being had come to Western feminist history in three stages or waves. Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century first-wave feminism concentrated on opening up access of woman as a category to political, economic and social aspects of public life from which they had been excluded at that time. The fight was mainly though not exclusively a bourgeois one, although it led in a number of countries to important gains for other groups, for example, in terms of voting rights and access to welfare and education (schools and universities).

Second-wave feminism which emerged in Western countries in the 1960s and 1970s, and elsewhere later, continued the struggle to extend access and benefits but also fought for a broader agenda that concentrated on factors specifically affecting women: for example, reproduction, sexuality, domestic labor, violence in the home and paid working conditions. For education, it was argued, there were three distinctive elements with feminism: political, critical and practice-oriented. The political involved the movement to improve the conditions and life-chances for girls and women; the critical referred to the sustained, intellectual critique of dominant (male) forms of knowing and doing; and the practice oriented concerned the development of more ethical forms of professional and personal practice (Weiner, 1994). Feminists drew on the three elements to identify, in particular, the differential achievement of girls and boys (particularly in the ‘power’ subjects of mathematics and science), the sex-stereotyped subject and careers’ choices made by girls and boys and different ‘equality’ pedagogies that might be used. However consensus on what it means to be a 'girl' and 'woman' was difficult to achieve as it became clear that other social factors such as social class and ethnicity also had a fundamental (and often decisive) impact on the life experiences and chances of women.

Third-wave feminism emerged from the 1990s onwards, drawing in a new generation of gender scholars (mainly women but also some men) who, having benefited from the efforts of their mothers and grandmothers, now identified their own viewpoints and struggles. It claimed primarily to be the feminism of a new generation 'that responds to the political, economic, technological and cultural circumstances that are unique to the current era' (Kinser, 2004). There was a rejection of earlier conceptions of feminism as embodying a more or less coherent set of values and ideas, in favor of a more emphasis on agency, in acknowledgment that women can act autonomously and politically despite often crippling social sanctions (McNay, 2000).

Individual sexuality was also a concept that received considerable attention. Weeks (2000), for example, rejects the idea that there is a true essence of sex; rather that sexual identity like gender is historically and socially shaped. Thus, it is deemed simplistic to reduce what is often a complex pattern of sexual relations, to mere biology. It is argued that the study of the history of sexuality is particularly important in order to understand the range of possible sexual identities available to young people, whether based on class, ethnicity, gender or sexual preference or a combination of these.

Third-wave feminism seemed more attached to theory and the academy than previous waves. This is primarily due to greater access to university education (and teaching) for Western women, the relatively safe and privileged space of the university which makes theorizing possible, and the presence of a (female) student audience interested in new ideas and theories. In terms of education, this meant that there was less interest shown in the differential achievements and attitudes of girls and boys and the roles given to them by society, and more in the ways in which pupils, students and teachers actively engage in shaping their own gender ‘performances’ and masculinities and femininities in relation to each other (Butler, 1990). In other words, instead of looking at macro policies, scholars of this wave focused on the diversity of particular micro-perspectives and the contextual embeddedness of gender in power relations (Miroiu, 2003). In this respect, Skelton and Francis (2009) argue that third wave theorizing does not prioritize the necessity for macro-level change and, therefore, seems to be less useful for educational policy-makers and practitioners. Others claim that the 'gender perspective' which came out of third wave thinking contributed to the development of the strategy of gender mainstreaming (Booth & Bennett, 2002).

Sandra Acker usefully suggests that there are three main Western Feminist theoretical frameworks.

- Liberal
- Radical
- Socialist

- Liberal feminist theory

The basis of this perspective is a commitment to equal opportunities for males and females. The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 has generally been interpreted to mean that females are entitled to the same treatment as males in the main areas of public life including education.

- Radical feminist theory

This group considers that patriarchy- the system of domination of females by males is the central issue for women. Dale Spender, has analyzed the cultural reproduction of patriarchy in several publications of which perhaps the most famous relevant to education is Invisible Women. She finds that patriarchal assumptions in both formal and hidden curriculum are common. Feminists believe that the education system is patriarchal and dominated by men, just like the work force is. Feminists argue that the education system is just a primary preparation for leading into the future work force. They believe there are still gender differences in subject choice in schools. Colley (1998) reviewed this idea and found that despite all the social changes in recent decades, traditional definitions of masculinity and femininity were still widespread. Sociologists Heaton and Lawson (1996) argue that the ‘hidden’ curriculum is a major source of gender socialization; within education, various subjects are aimed at a certain gender group; for example cooking would be aimed at girls doing house work and cooking. While most schools now title this course, Food Technology, feminists believe that the subject is still designed to ‘snare’ girls into adopting a mode of behavior a patriarchal society accept and that the gap between girls and boys is still there in today’s society.

Dale Spender believes that teachers throughout school give boys and girls different types of attention; he says that girls are praised for appearance, good behavior and neat work. He has further looked into the argument of gender inequality in education and said: ‘What is considered inherently interesting is knowledge about men. Because men control the records, and the value system, it is generally believed that it is men who have done all the exciting things, it is men who have made history, made discoveries, made inventions and performed feats of skill and courage – according to men. These are the important activities and only men can engage in them, so we are led to believe. And it is that the activities of men become the curriculum (Spender, 1982).

- Socialist feminist theory

This perspective considers that gender inequality is deeply linked to the class nature of capitalist society and that for female liberation to be achieved both inequalities must be effectively dealt with.

- Post-Structural Perspective

Weiner (1994 ) had accepted that in the future, feminism was likely to be of various ideological hues. Even so, she considers that Feminists are likely to be more effective in education if they share certain broad strategies. ‘It is crucial she argues the feminist educators maintain their critique of existing school practices and offer new challenges to meet the ever-changing circumstances of educational practice’.

She goes on to suggest a number of possibilities for feminist action in education. For example:

1. Challenging the universalities and certainties of predominate male curriculum.
2. Adopting Feminist teaching/learning approaches, which allow for discussion, group work, etc.
3. Allowing Feminists to work with parents and colleagues to change school curricula or organization.

2.3. Gender and conceptions of equality in relation to education

Concepts of equality and equal opportunities, and how they can be interpreted, have also developed historically and culturally. Equality as an educational aim is largely a twentieth-century phenomenon. Before then, education was seen as a means of preparing different groups for their station in life (as leaders, bureaucrats, workers and mothers). Wood (1987) argues that in the twentieth century, four main interpretations of the concept of equal opportunities emerged:

- Equal life chances
- Open competition for scarce opportunities
- Equal cultivation of different capacities
- Independence of educational attainment from social origins.

According to Wood, viewing education as the main instrument in producing equal life chances is unwise because that would require the precondition that outside-school influences must also be equalized such as family income and cultural expectations. In a society where girls and women are viewed as unequal to boys and men, there is little possibility for schools to compensate and so equalize girls’ life chances. Open competition for scarce opportunities privileges those who start out with benefits (e.g. high family income, cultural affinity with the school). Being a girl might be seen as one of these benefits, since girls do better in many aspects of schooling. However, gender is not the only a factor, it is less influential than parents’ educational level or family income (Sammons, 1995).

A second perspective on equality of opportunity adopts a three-fold categorization: formal opportunities, actual opportunities and outcomes (Halsey et al., 1980). Formal opportunities refers to the structural availability of access to and participation in education; i.e. that all students have an equal right to access and participation. Actual opportunities are dependent on formal opportunities but also on other factors e.g. family background, orientation of school or quality of teaching. Educational outcomes are seen as the best means of assessing actual opportunities.

A third (and most recent) perspective on gender equality emphasizes three main pillars (Booth & Bennett, 2002). First, equal treatment focuses on non-discriminatory practices, though ensures neither a shared starting point nor equal outcomes. Second, positive action involves initiatives and developments aimed at addressing disadvantages experienced by women, which will enable them to catch up with men. Finally, gender sensitive policy analysis or 'gender mainstreaming' refers to the consciously systematic attempt to embed gender equality in institutional governance and culture (Newbigging, 2002).


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Gender Differential in Academic Performance
A case study of Lekhnath Metropolitan city
Master in Population gender and Development
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gender, differential, academic, performance, lekhnath, metropolitan
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Mankumari Parajuli (Author), 2017, Gender Differential in Academic Performance, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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