Boys do maths, girls do English: Tracing the origins of gender identity and impact in education.

O'Siochru, Cathal (2018) Boys do maths, girls do English: Tracing the origins of gender identity and impact in education. In: Psychology and the Study of Education: Critical Perspectives on Developing Theories. The Routledge Education Studies Series . Routledge, Oxon, UK, pp. 104-122. ISBN 978-1-138-23764-3

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


In Chapter 7, Cathal Ó Siochrú critically evaluates the common belief that there are fundamental differences between the two genders in terms of abilities, personality and behaviour. As we will see later on in the chapter, these beliefs extend into the realm of education where there are different expectations directed at the two genders in terms of their likely behaviours and even those subjects at which they will excel. The impact of these assumptions on the men and women in our education system is real, but are differences themselves real? This chapter draws on key studies and reviews of the research on gender differences to show that our gender identity is a combination of biological and social factors, all of which have an impact both on our gender and our education. The impact of biological differences is evaluated, including evidence for the impact of hormonal differences and differences between the genders in terms of brain structures. The social element of gender identity is explored through key concepts including gender roles, social learning and gender schemas. The picture that emerges from this review of the research is an image of gender differences as more learned than innate. We see how our experiences in the education system and the expectations of our educators are a major factor in shaping and reinforcing these gender identities. We also see how the relationship between gender and education may well be reciprocal, with the beliefs of parents and teachers regarding gender leading to gender differences in educational performance and the emergence of ‘gendered’ subjects. Ultimately, this chapter aims to show that, despite a considerable amount of time and effort spent searching for gender differences, there are relatively few strong differences between the genders in either thought or behaviour. Furthermore, those differences that have been found appear to be learned through socialisation and the education system itself. This places an important responsibility on educators to better understand their role in this process.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: psychology education gender identity
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Education Studies
Depositing User: Cathal O'SIOCHRU
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2018 15:44
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2018 15:44

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item