Many studies have shown boys need more kinesthetic learning compared to girls (Lehigh University, College of Education, 2017). However, traditional public schools require order, structure, and standardized procedures. Perhaps this is what makes them less appealing to boys than girls. Brady and Eisler (1995) reviewed literature on student-teacher interactions. They reached the conclusions that teachers interact with boys more than girls, that teachers call on boys more, and that teachers ask boys more higher-level questions. Further, Helgeson (2017) states girls tend to be more agreeable than boys. Therefore, they do not need as much behavioral attention. As a thirteen-year 3rd grade teacher, I have witnessed this gender achievement gap, and upon deep thought, recognize I may be contributing to this gap absentmindedly.
An individual difference factor that may contribute to boys getting more attention from their teachers than girls is self-esteem. If a boy with high self-esteem and confidence in his abilities receives negative feedback from his teacher, he may rationalize that the teacher is having a bad day or does not like him (Helgeson, 2017). Further, the feedback may not be taken seriously because the boy may believe he is intellectually competent in a variety of subject areas, which outshines the criticism. Additionally, boys tend to view themselves as independent, whereas girls tend to view themselves as interdependent (Helgeson, 2017). Therefore, a boy may be more focused on their performance compared to others, while a girl may be more focused on relationships and connections.
Aside from teachers, another social factor that may contribute to boys getting more attention than girls are parents. In general, parents tend to have more confidence in their son’s math, science, and athletic abilities than their daughter’s (Helgeson, 2017). Consequently, a boy’s self-perception may be higher than a girl’s, leading them to take more risks both in and out of the classroom without fear of failure or success.
Boys getting more attention and generally having higher self-confidence than girls supports gender beliefs. Even though women outnumber men in college (Laureate Education, 2017), women still lag behind in STEM fields and are less likely to obtain leadership positions. Moreover, women are under-represented at all levels of government (Lehigh University, College of Education, 2017). This gap may have implications for both individuals and society as a whole. For example, girls and women may downplay their success, while boys or men may continue pursuing a challenging path that is already well-paved and more accepted.
Helgeson, V. S. (2017). Psychology of gender (5th ed.). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2017g). Week 7 introduction: Gender and achievement [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Lehigh University, College of Education. (2017). The reverse gender gap. Retrieved from https://ed.lehigh.edu/news-events/news/reverse-gender-gap