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Does the gender of the teacher really matter? Seven-to eight-year-olds' accounts of their interactions with their teachers

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Educational Studies
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Does the gender of the teacher really matter? Seven- to
eight-year-olds' accounts of their interactions with their
Bruce Carrington a; Becky Francis b; Merryn Hutchings c; Christine Skelton b;
Barbara Read c; Ian Hall d
aUniversity of Glasgow, UK
bRoehampton University, UK
cLondon Metropolitan University, UK
dNewcastle University, UK
Online Publication Date: 01 December 2007
To cite this Article: Carrington, Bruce, Francis, Becky, Hutchings, Merryn, Skelton,
Christine, Read, Barbara and Hall, Ian (2007) 'Does the gender of the teacher really
matter? Seven- to eight-year-olds' accounts of their interactions with their teachers', Educational Studies, 33:4, 397 - 413
To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/03055690701423580
Full terms and conditions of use:
This article maybe used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction,
re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly
The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be
complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug doses should be
independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,
demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or
arising out of the use of this material.
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Educational Studies,
Vol. 33, No. 4, December 2007, pp. 397–413
ISSN 0305-5698 (print)/ISSN 1465-4300 (online)/07/040397–17
© 2007 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/03055690701423580
Does the gender of the teacher really
matter? Seven- to eight-year-olds’
accounts of their interactions with
their teachers
Bruce Carringtona*, Becky Francisb, Merryn Hutchingsc,
Christine Skeltonb, Barbara Readc and Ian Halld
aUniversity of Glasgow, UK; bRoehampton University, UK; cLondon Metropolitan
University, UK; dNewcastle University, UK
Taylor and Francis LtdCEDS_A_242242.sgm10.1080/03055690701423580Educational Studies0305-5698 (print)/1465-4300 (online)Original Article2007Taylor & Francis334000000December 2007Professor
In recent years, policy-makers in England, Australia and other countries have called for measures
to increase male recruitment to the teaching profession, particularly to the primary sector. This
policy of targeted recruitment is predicated upon a number of unexamined assumptions about the
benefits of matching teachers and pupils by gender. For example, it is held that the dearth of male
‘role models’ in schools continues to have an adverse effect on boys’ academic motivation and
engagement. Utilizing data from interviews with more than 300 7- to 8-year-olds attending primary
schools in the north-east and south-east of England, the paper sets out to scrutinize these claims.
The findings revealed that the gender of teachers had little apparent effect on the academic motiva-
tion and engagement of either boys or girls. For the majority of the children, the gender of the
teacher was largely immaterial. They valued teachers, whether men or women, who were consistent
and even-handed and supportive of them as learners.
Keywords: Teachers’ gender; Pupil engagement; Classroom interaction
In recent years, policy-makers in various countries, including England, Australia,
New Zealand, Canada, the USA and Finland, have voiced concerns about the
so-called ‘gender gap’ in educational achievement and the mounting male disaffec-
tion from school. These concerns have resulted in recruitment campaigns targeted
specifically at potential male entrants to the profession (e.g. Arnot et al., 1999; Fran-
cis, 2000; Hutchings, 2002; Carrington & Skelton, 2003; Mills et al., 2004; Francis
*Corresponding author. Department of Educational Studies, University of Glasgow, St Andrew’s
Building, 11 Eldon Street, Glasgow G3 6NH, UK. Email:
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398 B. Carrington et al.
& Skelton, 2005; Martin & Marsh, 2005). As Mills et al. (2004, p. 355) have pointed
out, underpinning the drive to bolster the recruitment of men teachers is an unexam-
ined assumption that ‘the teaching profession has become increasingly “feminized”
and thus the education of boys has suffered because of the resultant lack of male “role
models”’. Such policies tend to be predicated upon a number of taken-for-granted
beliefs about the impact of the teacher’s gender on children’s levels of academic
engagement and achievement. For example, it is commonly assumed that children
identify more readily with teachers of the same gender and, as a consequence, boys
fare better in school when taught by men teachers and vice versa. As well as making
unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of same-gender matching, policy-makers
have also tended to make unwarranted generalizations about the respective educa-
tional needs of boys and girls. Similar essentialist assumptions about matching by
ethnicity are also evident in parallel policies designed to increase the numbers of
ethnic minority teachers (Carrington, 2002a).
However, despite apparently widespread acceptance of the view that the ‘gender
gap’ in achievement stems from the dearth of male ‘role models’ in schools, a growing
body of research (undertaken in different parts of the world) has indicated that the
influence of a teacher’s gender on educational outcomes should not be exaggerated.
For example, in the United States, Ehrenberg et al. (1995) analysed data on more than
18,000 students and 15,000 teachers made available through the National Education
Longitudinal Study of 1988. They concluded that matching teachers and students by
gender (or ethnicity) has little discernible impact on educational achievement.
Broadly comparable conclusions have also been drawn by other researchers. For
example, Lahelma’s (2000) interviews with 90 14- and 15-year-olds in Finnish high
schools revealed that the teacher’s gender had little or no bearing on the students’
evaluations of individual members of staff. According to Lahelma, boys and girls alike
‘value qualities that are not specifically female or male’, such as being fair and consid-
erate and having a sense of humour. She also notes that the ‘teachers’ qualities as
teachers seemed to be central, not their personal traits’. Furthermore, the majority of
participants in the study—irrespective of gender—did not perceive the lack of male
teachers in their schools to be ‘a major problem’.
Two recent Australian studies (Lingard et al., 2002; Martin & Marsh, 2005) have
also indicated that the gender of the teacher does not have a noticeable impact on
either achievement or attitudes. For example, Lingard et al. (2002), in their report,
Addressing the Educational Needs of Boys—Strategies for Schools and Teachers, draw
upon a survey of 641 boys and girls and interviews and focus groups with staff and
children in 19 primary and secondary schools. The research revealed that the gender
of the teacher ‘did not emerge as significant factor in determining positive outcomes
for students’. Although boys and girls expressed a preference for a teacher of the same
gender when discussing personal matters, when they ‘talked about their ideal teacher,
they stressed the significance of the type of person the teacher was and their teaching
styles, rather than the gender of the teacher’ (2002, p. 4).
In their subsequent study, Martin and Marsh (2005) also respond to mounting public
concern in Australia about the possible educational and socio-cultural ramifications
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Primary pupils’ interactions with their teachers 399
of ‘the decreasing number of male teachers and male role models, particularly in
primary schools’ (p. 320). Working with a sample of 964 Year 8 and Year 10 students
and 68 teachers drawn from five coeducational schools, the researchers consider the
empirical basis for the claim that ‘boys fare better in classes taught by males and girls
fare better in classes taught by females’. The students’ responses to a questionnaire,
designed to assess various facets of their academic motivation and engagement, were
analysed using multilevel modelling techniques. The results showed that ‘boys and girls
are no more or less motivated and engaged in classes taught by females than in classes
taught by males’ (Martin & Marsh, 2005, p. 320). The authors emphasize that caution
must be exercised when generalizing from their findings with middle and high school
students to younger children and call for similar research to be undertaken at ‘the
elementary school level’.
Other recent quantitative research, conducted in Canada (Sokal et al., 2005) and
the UK (Carrington et al., 2005a, b) respectively, has given particular attention to the
significance of the gender of the teacher in the elementary or primary school sector.
For example, the Canadian investigation, which was undertaken in an inner-city
school in Winnipeg, focused on boys’ attitudes towards and performance in reading.
Twenty-one 1st-grade (6- to 7-year-old) and 2nd-grade (7- to 8-year-old) boys took
part in a Paired Reading intervention with either a male or female research assistant.
The evaluation of the intervention, which took place over a 22-week period, indicated
that ‘significant gains were evident at the 10-week mark as well as the 22-week mark’
(2005, p. 7). Tests of the boys’ self-perceptions as readers also revealed ‘significant
gains’ at both stages in the intervention. However, despite these positive outcomes,
no differences were found between those boys who worked with a male research assis-
tant and those who had worked with a female. Although Sokal et al. acknowledge that
the findings of this exploratory study ‘are tentative given the small sample size’, they
nevertheless suggest that ‘policies aimed at attracting more male teachers as a means
of addressing boys’ reading needs may be misguided’ (2005, p. 8).
The assumptions underlying contemporary policy measures to increase the recruit-
ment of male primary teachers have also been challenged by Carrington et al. (2005a,
b) in a large-scale investigation of the effects of matching teachers and children by
gender in English primary schools. Using data from the Performance Indicators in
Primary Schools Project (PIPS) (, information from 413
separate classes was examined. The study involved 8,978 11-year-olds (50.4% boys,
49.6% girls) and their teachers (113 men and 300 women). Multilevel models
controlling for background factors were employed to analyse the children’s responses
to battery of attainment and attitude tests. The study indicated that matching teachers
and pupils by gender has ‘no discernible impact on either boys’ or girls’ attainment,
or their respective attitudes to school’. It also showed that boys and girls taught by
women ‘were more inclined to show positive attitudes towards school than their peers
taught by men’. Acknowledging the limitations of the study, the authors concede that
‘it cannot be assumed that the teacher’s gender will be similarly inconsequential with
younger children’ and that ‘male teachers could have greater salience as role models
for boys in the lower primary school, where men are generally conspicuous by their
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400 B. Carrington et al.
absence’ (see e.g. Cameron et al., 1999; King, 2000; Hutchings, 2002; Skelton, 2002;
Carrington, 2002b; Francis & Skelton, 2005).
Despite the policy initiatives in England (and elsewhere) to persuade more men to
enter primary teaching, relatively little is known about the effects of the teacher’s
gender on their adopted teaching style, classroom management strategies and
interactions with boys and girls (see e.g. Lahelma, 2000; Francis & Skelton, 2001;
Hutchings, 2002; Skelton, 2002). Furthermore, as our foregoing remarks indicate,
there would appear to be a dearth of research, especially at primary level, about the
extent to which children identify with teachers of the same gender. Concerned about
these gaps (and others) in the policy’s evidence-base, and the government’s seemingly
uncritical acceptance of the view that the academic engagement and motivation of
boys would be enhanced by the presence of more male ‘role models’ in schools, we
embarked on a two-year, ESRC-funded research project (RES000230624) in 2004.
Focusing on Year 3 children (i.e. 7- to 8-year-olds) and their teachers, the project
sought to address the following questions:
whether children perceive male and female teachers as adopting different teaching,
management and organizational approaches in the classroom;
whether children experience differences in male and female teachers’ responses to
whether children see themselves as relating better to teachers of the same gender;
whether matching by gender is seen by children and teachers as having any broader
positive impact on pupils’ educational experiences.
This paper gives specific attention to the findings relating to the second research ques-
tion and attempts to explore the perceived influence of the teacher’s gender on the
academic engagement and motivation of their male and female pupils respectively.
The study
The samples
The research was conducted in 51 Year 3 classes drawn from a convenience sample
of primary schools in England. This age group was targeted for two reasons: first, extant
research has indicated that 7- to 8-year-olds tend to have a well-established and refined
sense of gender identity (Davies, 1989; Lloyd & Duveen, 1992); and secondly, as we
have already noted, relatively few of the men taking up teaching posts in the primary
sector opt to work with younger children. Twenty-five of the classes were located in
schools in London and the south-east and 26 were located in Newcastle upon Tyne
and the north-east. The sample comprised almost equal proportions of male and
female teachers, with 25 of the classes taught by men (12 in the south-east and 13 in
the north-east) and 26 by women (13 in the south-east and 13 in the north-east). The
majority of the teachers taking part in the study were white. Only four teachers (all
women based in schools in the south-east) came from minority ethnic backgrounds.
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Primary pupils’ interactions with their teachers 401
Six children (3 boys and 3 girls) were selected at random from each class register. In
all, 307 children (153 boys and 154 girls) took part in the study. As Table 1 indicates,
the SE cohort was far more ethnically diverse than the NE cohort, with more than
half (54%) of the former group coming from minority ethnic backgrounds, as opposed
to just 6% of the latter.
Data collection and analysis
One working day was spent in each of the 51 classes observing pupil–teacher rela-
tionships and interactions. The observations were followed up with one-to-one,
semi-structured interviews with the teachers. The interviews sought to explore their
opinions about, among others, current policies to bolster male recruitment to the
teaching profession, teachers as ‘role models’ and the perceived impact of gender
differences on classroom interaction. (For a detailed analysis of these data see
Skelton et al., forthcoming.)
The children were also interviewed individually, although a more structured format
was adopted. They were invited to address a number of open-ended and closed ques-
tions designed to probe their feelings about their teachers, perceptions of teacher–
pupil relationships in their classes and views on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ teachers. In addition,
the children were asked about people they admired, both in popular culture and in
their daily lives. Towards the end of the interviews, they were invited to voice their
opinions about the perceived salience of the gender of the teacher. Each member of
the research team had extensive experience of interviewing primary age children and
was familiar with the ethical and methodological issues likely to be encountered
during the course of an investigation of this kind (Carrington & Short, 1993; James
& Prout, 1997; Lewis & Lindsay, 2000; Christensen & James, 2000; Scott, 2000;
Clark, et al., 2005).
Throughout the study, we adhered to the British Educational Research Association’s
Revised Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research (2004). Participation was voluntary
and appropriate steps were taken to secure the consent of the teachers, the parents
and guardians of the pupils and the pupils themselves. All participants were guaranteed
confidentiality and anonymity. Both the teacher and pupil interviews were audio
taped and transcribed, along with the field notes from the classroom observations.
Table 1. Pupil sample, by ethnicity, gender and location
mixed Black
Asian Chinese
Boys (n = 153) 69% (106) 1% (2) 18% (28) 10% (16) 0% (0) 1% (1)
Girls (n = 154) 70% (108) 2% (3) 19% (29) 8% (12) 1% (1) 1% (1)
NE cohort (n = 156) 94% (146) 0% (0) 1% (2) 5% (8) 0% (0) 0% (0)
SE cohort (n = 151) 45% (68) 3% (5) 36% (55) 13% (20) 1% (1) 1% (2)
All children (n = 307) 70% (214) 2% (5) 19% (57) 9% (28) 0% (1) 1% (2)
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402 B. Carrington et al.
These data, held in an NVivo software package, were subjected to qualitative analysis
employing a social constructionist perspective (Bryman, 2001). This focused on differ-
ences by gender, both pupils’ and teachers’. In order to make judgements about the
weighting of given responses, a descriptive statistical analysis of the interview data was
also undertaken.
The findings
Having outlined the scope and purposes of the study, we will now examine the find-
ings that relate directly to the children’s perceptions of their teachers and interactions
with them in the classroom. Specifically, the research team sought to assess the extent
to which the children’s reported experiences of such interactions varied according to
gender, either their own or their teacher’s. In this paper, we draw exclusively on inter-
view data and, in particular, the children’s replies to the following key questions,
which sought to elicit information on their levels of academic engagement, motivation
and rapport with their teacher:
Does your teacher make you want to work hard?
Does your teacher encourage you?
Does your teacher treat everyone in the class fairly?
How does your teacher let you know if you have broken the class rules, or not
worked as hard as you could?
How does your teacher let others know if they have broken the rules or not worked
as hard as they could?
As Table 2 indicates, the majority of children (74%), irrespective of gender, gave an
affirmative response to the question: ‘Does your teacher make you want to work
hard?’ Although the boys’ responses suggested that their levels of academic engage-
ment may have been slightly higher when taught by men (80%) rather than women
(71%), the teacher’s gender appeared to have no discernible impact on the
responses of the girls. The children gave a wide variety of reasons for responding
affirmatively. For example, 43 (16 boys, 27 girls) said their teachers set clear expec-
tations in the classroom, while a further 36 (19 boys, 17 girls) mentioned the
Table 2. Does your teacher make you want to work hard?
Yes No Qualified Other
Boys taught by men (n = 76) 80% (61) 5% (4) 13% (10) 1% (1)
Boys taught by women (n = 77) 71% (55) 10% (8) 13% (10) 5% (4)
All boys (n = 153) 76% (116) 8% (12) 13% (20) 3% (5)
Girls taught by men (n = 78) 72% (56) 9% (7) 15% (12) 4% (3)
Girls taught by women (n = 76) 72% (55) 7% (5) 20% (15) 1% (1)
All girls (n = 154) 72% (111) 8% (12) 18% (27) 3% (4)
All children (n = 307) 74% (227) 8% (24) 15% (47) 3% (9)
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Primary pupils’ interactions with their teachers 403
importance of receiving encouragement from their teacher. While girls seemed to
attach more importance than boys to the need for teachers to set clear expectations,
once again the gender of their teachers had little apparent bearing on their answers.
In contrast to this finding, guidance dispensed to practitioners has tended to under-
line the importance of teachers providing boys with unequivocal expectations (e.g.
Noble & Bradford, 2000). It should be noted that approximately equal numbers of
boys taught by men (9) and boys taught by women (7) made reference to the issue
of teacher expectations when justifying their responses. The following examples are
Because she [Ms Templeton] wants us to work hard and get things right. (Adelai,1 white,
Hillside, NE)
He [Mr Temple] tells us to work hard. (Callum, white, Wilton, NE)
[Ms Owusu] says that she knows I’m a bright girl […] and I can’t just keep my intelligence
in my brain—I have to put it down on the paper. (Clea, black, Delving, SE)
If you think you’re not doing well, he [Mr Hedley] just says, ‘If you’re working your hard-
est, that’s the best you can do’. (Dylan, white, The Meadows, NE)
[Mr Taylor] says, like: ‘Come on, let’s get working! And it makes me feel happy and get
to work and that. (Phoebe, white, Cloudyhead, SE)
Yes, because he [Mr Monaghan] always says: ‘Good learners don’t give it up!’ (Belinda,
white, Buckland, SE)
[Ms Wood] gives us working targets and it says what you’ve got to do, like mine is to use
interesting words. (Lyle, White, Dunharrow, SE)
Lyle was not alone in alluding to the highly structured approach to teaching and learn-
ing now increasingly prevalent in English primary education with the advent of greater
accountability and the introduction of a ‘performativity discourse’ (Jeffrey, 2002).
Consider, for example, Stella’s (white, Sunnyside, NE) observations:
Interviewer: What sort of things does he [Mr Dennis] do to make you work hard?
Stella: Well, he shows us success criteria – what we need to have in our story or
what we could do
Interviewer: Right!
Stella: And learning objectives and that.
As well as stressing the importance of teacher expectations and encouragement, the
children also made reference to the ensuing factors when accounting for the teacher’s
perceived influence on their academic engagement: the availability of extrinsic
rewards such as stickers, sweets or house points (11 boys, 11 girls); having school
work explained in a comprehensible and accessible manner2 (13 boys, 5 girls); being
set challenging or stimulating work (5 boys, 7 girls); receiving clear written or oral
feedback on their work (4 boys, 2 girls); or simply being inspired by their teachers
(1 boy, 5 girls). Lastly, it was of interest to note that 17 children (9 boys, 8 girls)
mentioned that the prospect of being punished by their teacher had an important
bearing on their academic motivation. The following remarks are indicative of the
range of responses:
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404 B. Carrington et al.
[With Ms Smethurst] you get stickers for doing good work and sometimes you can get
lollipops if you’re really good. (Jacqui, white, Northfield, NE)
Well, he [Mr Jones] just makes me want to work hard. […] Sometimes I don’t understand
but then I ask and he says it again, and I get to understand and I do it. (Roger, white,
Grosvenor, NE)
Because she, sort of, like, makes it fun to do the work. (Sharon, white, Bywater, SE)
When she [Ms Perez] gives us the work, sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard.
When it’s hard, I enjoy that time, but when it’s easy I don’t enjoy it, because the easy ones,
they don’t make you learn because you already know it, but the hard ones, you’re learning
new things. (Nancy, white, Delving, SE)
Yes he [Mr Stapleton] does. And […] if we don’t work hard, then he will just tell us you’ll
have to stay in at playtime and do it. (Geoff, white, Northfield, NE)
If you do all of your work, you’ll get to go out to play. (Sarika, black, Weathertop, SE)
The most common reason given for answering negatively was that the teacher gave
children insufficient help when they encountered difficulties with work (9 boys,
8 girls). However, there were the odd occasions when the children provided more
enigmatic justifications for their replies:
Interviewer: Does Mr Fines make you want to work hard in class?
Charles (white, Pitlane, NE): No, it’s mostly my brain that does that.
Despite continuing concerns about high levels of disaffection among black children
in English schools (Majors, 2001), 78% of those from African or African-Caribbean
backgrounds said that their teachers made them want to work hard. The corre-
sponding figures for white and South Asian pupils were 73% and 78% respectively.
Moreover, black pupils (72%) were more likely than their white (59%) or South
Asian (64%) peers to give positive answers to the question: ‘Does your teacher
encourage you?’ However, when asked: ‘Does your teacher treat you fairly?’,
proportionately fewer black pupils (70%) than whites (77%) or South Asians (82%)
answered affirmatively. (More detailed consideration is given to the children’s
comments about their teachers’ even-handedness below.)
Leaving aside the issue of black disaffection, the analysis of replies to the ques-
tion: ‘Does your teacher encourage you?’ did not reveal any marked differences in
terms of the children’s gender: 64% of girls and 59% of boys felt that their teach-
ers encouraged them (see Table 3). The gender of the teacher also appeared to
have little bearing on the boys’ answers: 58% of those taught by men answered
affirmatively, as opposed to 61% of those taught by women. Girls, however,
seemed to be more positive about men than women teachers, with 71% reporting
that they were encouraged by their men teachers: the corresponding proportion for
those taught by women was 58%. Contrary to the assumptions underpinning
current recruitment policies about the benefits of matching teachers and children
by gender, these particular data suggest that mismatching may, on occasions, oper-
ate to the advantage of girls. We can only speculate about the reasons for this
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Primary pupils’ interactions with their teachers 405
Once again, the children gave a wide variety of reasons when elaborating on their
positive responses. Some children (23 boys, 12 girls) felt that the availability of extrin-
sic rewards, such as team points or stars, had an important bearing on their academic
motivation. Arguably, this finding lends support to Noble and Bradford’s (2002)
observation that boys tend to place a higher value on competitive classroom activities
than girls. In contrast, other children (15 boys, 15 girls) stressed the critical part
played by their teachers as inspirational figures, or said that they found the teachers’
use of praise encouraging (9 boys, 13 girls). A number indicated that they appreciated
the fact that their teachers explained work unambiguously (9 boys, 9 girls), or set
them clear expectations in the classroom (3 boys, 18 girls). In general terms, the chil-
dren’s perceptions of the ‘good’ teacher were broadly in accord with those reported
in previous studies (e.g. Jeffrey & Wood, 1997; Morgan & Morris, 1999; Lahelma,
2000; Day, 2004).
The remainder of those answering positively said that they valued receiving feed-
back on their work or behaviour (6 boys, 4 girls) or help from the teacher (2 boys,
7 girls). As before, a few children (8 boys, 1 girl) mentioned their teachers’ use of
sanctions when justifying their replies. The following examples typify the range of
[Ms Baker] says: ‘At playtime you’ll get a merit’. (Sarika, black, Weathertop, SE)
He [Mr Dennis] says: ‘You don’t have to get everything right, but as long as you try your
best—that’s what matters’. (Stella, British, Sunnyside, NE)
Sometimes, he [Mr Jones] says, ‘Excellent!’ and ‘Great stuff!’. (Anita, white, Grosvenor,
[Mr Templeton says] ‘Chop, chop! Come on, we’ve got loads of work on!’ (Beatrix, white,
Wilton, NE)
[Mrs Owusu] says, like, ‘What would I do? What first thing […] would I do if I didn’t
understand the question?’ And then I get on well with my work. (Esme, white, Delving,
Like [Mr Peters] comes over to us and like, he like, talks to us and he does and he says,
and ‘What do you need help on?’, and we say what we need help on and then he helps us.
(Nora, white, Snowbourn, SE)
Table 3. Does your teacher encourage you?
Yes No Qualified Other
Boys taught by men (n = 76) 58% (44) 9% (7) 14% (11) 18% (14)
Boys taught by women (n = 77) 61% (47) 21% (16) 9% (7) 9% (7)
All boys (n = 153) 59% (91) 15% (23) 12% (18) 14% (21)
Girls taught by men (n = 78) 71% (55) 13% (10) 8% (6) 9% (7)
Girls taught by women (n = 76) 58% (44) 20% (15) 14% (11) 8% (6)
All girls (n = 154) 64% (99) 16% (25) 11% (17) 8% (13)
All children (n = 307) 62% (190) 16% (48) 11% (35) 11% (34)
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406 B. Carrington et al.
As the preceding observations suggest, there were some indications that the children’s
replies to the question about teacher encouragement were gendered, with, for exam-
ple, boys appearing to place a higher value on extrinsic rewards and girls on the
importance of working in a classroom environment in which the teacher’s expecta-
tions were communicated unequivocally. Possibly, this ostensible difference may
have reflected a somewhat higher level of academic engagement among the girls in
the study and, concomitantly, greater disaffection among the boys. Certainly,
responses to the question: ‘Does your teacher treat everyone in the class fairly?’ (see
Table 4), seemed to lend some support to this observation, with 83% of girls answer-
ing affirmatively, as opposed to 72% of boys.3 However, contrary to the oft-repeated
claims of policy-makers about the benefits of matching teachers and children by
gender, there was little or no evidence to support such assertions: 73% of boys taught
by women replied positively, as compared with 71% of boys taught by men. The
corresponding figures for the girls were 83% and 78% respectively.
Although the majority of those interviewed encountered little or no difficulty in
responding to this question (or others), appropriate steps were nevertheless taken
during the interviews to check the children’s grasp of the concept of ‘fairness’.
The following transcripts are illustrative of the strategies employed to gauge their
Interviewer: And do you think that he [Mr Jones] treats everyone
in the class fairly?
Roger (white, Grosvenor, NE): No.
Interviewer: Can you say why?
Roger: Well, like Glen said that time, we put our hands up, he
said, ‘Everyone who guesses how many is in the jar will
get a sweet’ and some people didn’t even guess, and he
gave them a sweet—just because they were upset!
Interviewer: And for you, what does being ‘fair’ mean?
Roger: Well [it’s] just like doing the same to everyone else
and being nice and stuff.
Interviewer: If I said to you, does your teacher treat you fairly or
treat children in the class fairly? Do you know what
that means?
(Malcolm, white, West Park, NE): Yes, if they’ve shared something, she’s got equal.
Table 4. Does your teacher treat everyone in the class fairly?
Yes No Qualified Other
Boys taught by men (n = 76) 71% (54) 9% (7) 14% (11) 5% (4)
Boys taught by women (n = 77) 73% (56) 5% (4) 12% (9) 10% (8)
All boys (n = 153) 72% (110) 7% (11) 13% (20) 8% (12)
Girls taught by men (n = 78) 78% (61) 0% (0) 14% (11) 8% (6)
Girls taught by women (n = 76) 83% (63) 4% (3) 9% (7) 4% (3)
All girls (n = 154) 81% (124) 2% (3) 12% (18) 6% (9)
All children (n = 307) 76% (234) 5% (14) 12% (38) 7%(21)
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Primary pupils’ interactions with their teachers 407
Of the sizable majority (76%) who said unequivocally that their teacher treated them
fairly, almost a half (42 boys, 54 girls) were able to justify their replies. The main
reasons offered for answering affirmatively were as follows: the teacher responds
consistently to transgressions (13 boys, 15 girls); the teacher treats everyone the same
(9 boys, 13 girls); the teacher is consistent when given rewards (4 boys, 7 girls); the
teacher is kind (7 boys, 4 girls); and the teacher gives everyone a turn (4 boys, 6 girls).
The children’s gender appeared to have relatively little impact on their replies: boys
and girls alike placed a high value on consistency and even-handedness:
Well he [Mr Stapleton] does it fairly because if there’s people being naughty and we are
trying to work and they make a lot of noise, then it’s fair that he tells them off. Because
then, if they still carry on, then people can’t concentrate on what they’re doing because of
the noise. (Jill, white, Northfield, NE)
She [Ms Konu] is fair when she shouts because we are all being silly and not listening.
(Javonte, black, Weathertop, SE)
Because when people are not sensible, she [Ms Miles] tells them off for a proper reason.
(Adrian, white, West Park, NE)
She [Ms Perez] gets everyone to take turn and if you don’t get picked she says: ‘Oh no,
you will get picked later!’ (Nilo, black, Delving, SE)
If someone does something bad, he [Mr Tyler] says that if they change their behaviour,
they get to have the same amount of going on the computer say, or having golden time
[…]. And that means, they won’t have anything wrong because they usually get very upset.
And it is a big lot of work for the teachers to sort them out if they get angry or sad.
(Lorraine, white, Shirebourne, SE)
Yes he [Mr Dennis] treats everyone the same, it’s just if they’ve been naughty you’ve got
to get told off and he does that. (Lenora, white, Sunnyside, NE)
Not surprisingly, the teacher’s perceived lack of consistency (especially when
responding to unsatisfactory behaviour) or apparent failure to act even-handedly,
were often mentioned by those giving either qualified or negative answers to the ques-
tion about fairness. Consider, for example, the following transcript:
Interviewer: Does he [Mr Garcia] treat everyone in the class fairly?
Jovan (black, Uplands, SE): No way José.
Interviewer: Could you tell me about it then?
Jovan: You know Adam, you might see him today or tomorrow, he
always gets his own way. If he runs out, then he calls Miss
Jones. Then he goes and plays them up.
Interviewer: So you think Mr Garcia treats Adam better than other
Jovan: No, he treats Adam like a baby.
Interviewer: But that is unfair on you, or not?
Jovan: It is really, really, really, unfair.
Interviewer: Is it just Adam or other people as well?
Jovan: Other people.
Jovan was not alone in making unsolicited comments about troublesome boys. Nancy
(white, Delving, SE), for example, when asked whether her teacher treated everyone
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408 B. Carrington et al.
fairly replied: ‘Yes, but there are some boys in the class that sometimes make her
shout. And one time she lost her voice because that they made her shout a lot […]’.
Other children also believed that recalcitrant behaviour was more prevalent among
boys than girls:
Interviewer: Oh, and why would he [Mr Tyler] treat some people
not fairly?
Adrian (white, Shirebourne, SE): Well, maybe it’s just because they have been fighting.
I am not sure, because I am mostly not there when it
happens. I am mostly looking at Darren.
Interviewer: Oh! […] So some people are being naughty or
Adrian: Yes.
Interviewer: Is that more boys or girls?
Adrian: It is more boys.
The researchers sought to determine whether the children perceived the teacher’s
immediate response to any transgression as being confrontational or conciliatory.
As Table 5 shows, around one in six of the children (25 boys, 21 girls) claimed
that their teacher reacted to their transgressions in a bellicose (or even authoritar-
ian) manner by shouting at them or telling them off, whereas about one in three
(42 boys, 48 girls) suggested that the teacher’s stance was more conciliatory.
Included in the latter category were those who said that their teacher drew their
attention to the rules, questioned them about their behaviour, glared at them or
applied moral pressure (though not in a punitive manner). A slightly larger propor-
tion of children taught by women (15 boys, 12 girls) than children taught by men
(10 boys and 9 girls) reported that their teachers had censured them in a robust
manner. The following examples are representative of these two categories of
He [Mr Fines] gets really angry, especially with Ron—he’s the naughtiest person in our
class. In Miss Evans’ class he had to sit on the spot. (Charles, white, Pitlane, NE)
He [Mr Smith] just shouts. (Vanessa, white, Old House, NE)
He [Mr Weatherley] says: ‘Ah, you’ve done something a little bit wrong. Can you just rub
it out and write it again’. (Akil, Asian, Loudwater, SE)
[Ms Smethurst] says: ‘Don’t do it again!’ She doesn’t shout a lot. (Trisha, white,
Northfield, NE)
Well, if you’ve done your work and it’s horrible, she’ll say, ‘Is that your best work?’, and
then you have to say what you think. (Malcolm, white, West Park, NE)
When we haven’t worked that hard, she [Ms. Perez] tells us and she says: ‘You haven’t
worked hard; I’m disappointed in you!’ And she says that to some people, sometimes, but
she’s never said it to me. (Nancy, white, Delving SE)
The remainder of those interviewed when asked: ‘How does your teacher let you
know when you have broken the rules or not worked as hard as you could?’, said that
sanctions were normally applied after an initial warning (19 boys, 13 girls), or that
they were given detention (16 boys, 14 girls). Alternatively, the children, particularly
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Primary pupils’ interactions with their teachers 409
the boys, said that their teacher would tell them to stand at the front or back of the
class or outside the room (20 boys, 8 girls):
She [Ms Templeton] gives you a warning and if you’ve been really bad you go outside.
(Cassie, white, Hillside, NE)
[If you break a rule] you have to write your name in the Level One book. […] If you do it
again you get a Level Two, and then you get a Level Three—[that’s] when you go to a
different class and you’ve got to fill out this paper and you get a letter sent home to your
parents. (Eli, black, Snowbourn, SE)
She [Ms Baker] gets really upset and she says go to detention and sit there until playtime
has finished and then come back. (Leo, white, Weathertop, SE)
He [Mr Taylor] would say, go and sit outside for half an hour or so. (Avery, white,
Cloudyhead, SE)
In contrast to the above, a small minority (6 boys, 11girls) referred to other punish-
ments when replying to the question (e.g. the loss of team points or privileges, being
sent to the headteacher).
Answers to the follow-up question, ‘How does the teacher let others know whether
they have broken the rules or not worked as hard as they could?’, were equally diverse.
However, as before, the children’s responses did not appear to vary significantly by
gender, whether their own or their teacher’s. As Table 6 indicates, around one in five
of the children (27 boys, 31 girls) claimed that their teachers treated everyone in their
class in the same way, while one in six (26 boys, 24 girls) recounted how their teachers
responded to the transgressions of their peers in a conciliatory manner. In contrast,
14% of those interviewed said that their teachers vigorously admonished them when
Table 5. How does your teacher let you know that you have broken the rules or not worked as
hard as you could?
(n = 76)
(n = 77)
(n = 78)
(n = 76)
All boys
(n = 153)
All girls
(n = 154)
All pupils
(n = 307)
Responds in a conciliatory
30%(23) 25%(19) 32%(25) 30%(23) 27%(42) 31%(48) 30%(92)
Responds in
confrontational manner
13%(10) 19%(15) 12%(9) 16%(12) 16%(25) 14%(21) 15%(46)
Sanctions are applied after
an initial warning
11%(8) 14%(11) 13%(10) 4%(3) 12%(19) 8%(13) 10%(32)
You’re given detention 11%(8) 10%(8) 9%(7) 9%(7) 10%(16) 9%(14) 10%(30)
You’re told to stand at the
front or leave the room
14%(11) 12%(9) 4%(3) 7%(5) 13%(20) 5%(8) 9%(28)
References to other
5%(4) 3%(2) 6%(5) 8%(6) 4%(6) 7%(11) 6%(17)
‘I never break the rules’ 5%(4) 5%(4) 6%(5) 8%(6) 5%(8) 7%(11) 6%(19)
Don’t know 8%(6) 4%(3) 9%(7) 7%(5) 6%(9) 8%(12) 7%(21)
Answer unclear 3%(2) 4%(3) 9%(7) 3%(2) 3%(5) 6%(9) 5%(14)
Question not asked 0%(0) 4%(3) 0%(0) 9%(7) 2%(3) 5%(7) 3%(10)
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410 B. Carrington et al.
they failed to conform to established norms (20 boys, 23 girls). The following exam-
ples typify the divergent replies:
If someone has been bad and he [Mr Tyler] does tell them off, he doesn’t say anything
threatening or mean or something like that. He does say, ‘You have done this, or you have
done that’. He just says: ‘Please can you stop’. (Lorraine, white, Shirebourne, SE)
She [Ms Perez] says, she asks them: ‘Are you working hard or not?’ […]. She says, ‘Do
you know what to do?’ (Levar, black, Delving, SE)
He [Mr Fines] just does the same. […] He just whispers outside and tells them; [he] takes
them outside. (Anthony, white, Pitlane, NE)
He [Mr Stapleton] would really give them a good […] shouting at. And, well like I said
before, you would take them to Mrs Brand [the headteacher]. (Jill, white, Northfield, NE)
Replies to this question, along with others (see above), suggested that boys were more
likely than girls to be seen as an unruly element in the classroom:
Interviewer: What sort of things does he [Mr Martin] say to other
[…] children in the class if they haven’t worked hard or
they’ve broken the rules? Does he say the same thing?
Sophia (white, Roadside, NE): He just, he goes … boys normally break the rules by
fighting, so he makes them stay in for the rest of the
week, so they can’t go out to play, and then the week
after he lets them. He gives them a chance to [behave]
and then if they fight, they’ve got to stay in again.
Interviewer: Oh, right! Is it the same, then, if girls have broken the
rules? Does he do the same for them?
Table 6. How does your teacher let others know that they have broken the rules or not worked as
hard as they could?
(n = 76)
(n = 77)
(n = 78)
(n = 76)
All boys
(n = 153)
All girls
(n = 154)
All pupils
(n = 307)
Everyone’s treated the
14% (11) 21% (16) 22% (17) 18% (14) 18% (27) 20% (31) 19% (58)
Low-key response to
21% (16) 13%(10) 15% (12) 16% (12) 17% (26) 16% (24) 16% (50)
Teacher shouts/tells you
12% (9) 14% (11) 15% (12) 14% (11) 13% (20) 15% (23) 14% (43)
Sanctions are applied after
an initial warning
12% (9) 4% (3) 5% (4) 4% (3) 8% (12) 5% (7) 6% (19)
They’re given detention 8% (6) 13%(10) 8% (6) 7% (5) 10%(16) 7% (11) 9% (27)
They’re told to stand at
the front or leave the room
12% (9) 6% (5) 8% (6) 4% (3) 9% (14) 6% (9) 7% (23)
References made to other
8% (6) 6% (5) 9% (7) 14%(11) 7% (11) 12%(18) 9% (29)
‘No one breaks the rules’ 0% (0) 1% (1) 0% (0) 3% (2) 1% (1) 1% (2) 1% (3)
Don’t know 7% (5) 3% (2) 6% (5) 4% (3) 5% (7) 5% (8) 5% (15)
Answer unclear 1% (1) 6% (5) 5% (4) 7% (5) 4% (6) 6% (9) 5% (15)
Question not asked 5% (4) 12% (9) 6% (5) 9% (7) 8% (13) 8% (12) 8% (25)
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Primary pupils’ interactions with their teachers 411
Sophia: I don’t know. It’s always the boys.
Interviewer: It’s always the boys who break the rules, is it?
Sophia: Sometimes, but most of the time they do.
Discussion and conclusion
We began this paper by engaging critically with the assumptions underpinning
contemporary policies to increase male recruitment to the teaching profession, espe-
cially to the primary or elementary sector. Drawing upon a growing body of research
from the United States, Canada, Finland, Australia and England, we argued that there
is little or no evidence to support the view that the ‘feminized’ nature of the teaching
profession and concomitant shortage of male ‘role models’ in schools has an adverse
effect on boys’ levels of academic motivation and engagement. As we indicated, rela-
tively little is known about the significance of gender matching in the primary school.
The research outlined above attempts to plug this gap in the literature.
The interviews revealed that the teacher’s gender had little apparent bearing on the
children’s level of academic engagement or the perceived quality of their classroom
experiences. The majority of children, irrespective of gender, felt that their teachers—
whether men or women—encouraged them and wanted them to work hard. Similarly,
the majority believed that their teachers acted in a consistent, fair and even-handed
manner. Once again, from the children’s standpoint, the gender of the teacher was
largely immaterial. Although the findings may have pointed to higher levels of disaf-
fection and recalcitrance among the boys, there no evidence to suggest that this
gendered response to schooling was less marked in classes taught by men than those
taught by women.
Although teacher recruitment policies tend to emphasize the importance of provid-
ing boys with male ‘role models’ in schools, little is known about the extent to which
children show any greater affinity for teachers of the same gender, or indeed identify
with their teachers per se. During the course of our investigation, we attempted to
ascertain the children’s ‘significant others’ by asking them whether there was anyone
that they would ‘like to be like’ when they were grown up (see Hutchings et al., forth-
coming). The children tended to select same-gender ‘role models’, nominating
family members or friends (44% boys, 47% girls), well-known singers or actors (13%
boys, 24% girls), sporting celebrities (31% boys, 2% girls), fictional characters (28%
boys, 25% girls) and teachers (13% boys, 33% girls). Although relatively few boys
appeared to regard their teachers as a ‘role model’, those who did were just as likely
to nominate a female member of staff as a male. Further data to emerge from other
parts of the research (Francis et al., in press) also lends support to the view that
the salience of gender matching in primary schools should not be overestimated
(e.g. Lahelma, 2000; Ashley, 2003). For example, almost two-thirds of the sample
(92 boys, 106 girls) responded negatively to the question: ‘Do you think it makes any
difference whether you have a man or a lady teacher?’ The children’s replies to other
direct questions about teacher gender also suggested that the majority saw this issue
as unimportant or irrelevant.
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412 B. Carrington et al.
Our study indicates that simplistic and unsupported claims about the benefits of
gender matching should have no place in driving either education policy or practice.
The voices of the children in our study are clear: it is the teacher’s pedagogic and inter-
personal skills that are vital in engaging them as learners, regardless of their gender.
1. Pseudonyms are used throughout.
2. While these gender differences in response are inconsequential, it is worth noting that the need
for boys to have things clearly explained is often stressed in the literature on male ‘under-
achievement’. For example, Gurian (2002), arguing from a biologistic standpoint, claims that
boys tend to hear less than girls and, as a result, should be given less equivocal task demands
by their teachers.
3. Although this gendered pattern of response was evident across all ethnic groups, black children
(70%) were less inclined than their South Asian (82%) or white (77%) peers to give positive
replies. While it is conceivable that this difference may have pointed to somewhat higher levels
of disaffection among black participants, as already noted, there was no evidence of such alien-
ation in their responses to other questions.
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... In the context of the United Kingdom (UK), such changes in education have been observed in a higher educational context (Dee, 2006a;Savolainen, Hughes, Hurtig, Ebeling, & Taanila, 2013;Smith, 2003;Zhukov, 2012). A considerable number of studies have revealed that females are performing well in higher education as compared to males (Buchmann, Condron, & Roscigno, 2010;Carrington et al., 2007;Duckworth & Seligman, 2006). In this regard, Hicks et al. (2008) and Glaesser and Cooper (2012) assert that female students are outperforming male students not only in schools and colleges but also at the higher education level. ...
... Smith, 2003;Zhukov, 2012). A number of factors are responsible for this gender reversal change in higher education (Buchmann et al., 2010;Carrington et al., 2007;Duckworth & Seligman, 2006). In this regard, Crawford, Wang, and Andrews (2016a) report that individual and previous academic differences among female and male students are the main factors of female outplaying in UK education system. ...
... They argued that a teacher's gender plays a vital role for learning. The findings were unreliable as compared with other empirical evidences which deviate from the argument and relevance of learner and teachers' gender interaction patterns on academic performance (Carrington et al., 2007;Driessen, 2007). ...
The main purpose of this research was to examine gender differences in academic performance in higher education in Punjab. The main focus was to unpack the reasons for female students' outperformance and male students' underperformance in higher education in Pakistan. In this study, I used a quantitative approach to examine gender reversal change at tertiary level education at the University of Punjab. I employed content analysis techniques on the examination result books of the above-mentioned university from 2006-2015 and analyzed female and male students' top three positions at master level examinations taken as indicators of outperformance. For primary data, the study sample consisted of 253 university teachers teaching in the university (the country’s oldest and largest Public Sector University) in Pakistan using a proportionate random sampling technique. The data was collected by using a well-structured questionnaire. The analysis was carried out with the help of AMOS, Statistica, and Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Based on the findings of the analysis of result books of ten years, I concluded that there was a vivid trend of young females’ outdoing males in education at the tertiary level. Moreover, the results of primary data revealed multiple factors of gender reversal change in terms of female-outperform and male-underperformance at the tertiary level such as familial, educational, motivational, and sociocultural domains. Based on study findings, I recommended that counseling services should be provided in educational institutions for students coming from rural areas (mostly males) and families along with educational institutions should provide equal learning environment and opportunities to female and male students with the changing landscapes of the society.
... The gender of the teacher has been found to have little bearing on student achievement (Cho, 2012;Lahelma, 2000;Sabbe and Aelterman, 2007;Sansone, 2017;Split et al., 2012). Moving beyond achievement, research has identified several characteristics of good teachers, including being a good listener; making the subject interesting; having high expectations and creating a positive learning environment (Sansone, 2017); being competent, relaxed and friendly; teaching well and using a variety of methods (Lahelma, 2000); and promoting a fair and quality classroom environment (Carrington et al., 2007). The gender of the teacher was not a factor in any of these studies. ...
Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) is a mandatory junior cycle subject in Irish second-level schools. Its concept-based syllabus accords teachers significant freedom in choosing instructional content for the subject. This study used a survey of 223 CSPE teachers to identify: (1) differences in the teaching of the subject based on teacher gender; and (2) the nature of these differences. Responses were analysed by statistical and thematic analysis. While very few differences emerged, there were indications of some distinctions in two areas. Female teachers were more likely to see the potential of CSPE to promote politics to encourage social responsibility and were more likely to promote greater student participation. Male teachers, on the other hand, focused on teaching a less defined citizenship and seemed to place less emphasis on areas that encourage student participation, such as mock elections, involvement in student council and other school-based activities. Limitations and recommendations are discussed.
... Yet policies to improve the inclusiveness of the teaching profession and build a more gender-balanced, ethnically diverse workforce may support boys' engagement, as well as provide much-needed representation for minority groups and fulfil wider social justice and gender equality goals (Carrington et al., 2007;Francis et al., 2008;Pollard, 2020;UNESCO, 2014). Evidence from the United States indicated that African-American male students assigned to an African-American teacher at primary school not only perform better on standardized tests, but are significantly less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to enrol in college compared with same-race peers assigned non-African-American teachers. ...
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This report provides an overview of the global situation on boys’ disengagement from and disadvantage in education. It identifies factors influencing boys’ participation, progression, and learning outcomes in education. It also analyses responses by governments and partners, and examines promising policies and programmes. Finally, it includes recommendations on how to re-engage boys with education and address disadvantages.
... There has been an on-going initiative orchestrated by the UK Government to recruit more men into the numerically female-dominated profession of teaching (Brownhill et al. 2020;Carrington et al. 2007;Skelton 2007; Thornton and Bricheno 2006). This initiative is generally led by essentialist beliefs, i.e. male primary school teachers have been called upon for their abilities to become 'positive role models' to male students (Jupp 2013), and improve boys academic engagement. ...
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This paper reports on research examining how male pre-service primary school teachers negotiate masculinities during their time within majority-female spaces. Four white undergraduate pre-service teachers in the North of England, UK, who were training to teach children aged 5–11 years were recruited. Interviews took place pre-and-post their seven-week practicum within primary schools, relating to their experiences of masculinity within their course and practicum. Participants kept a solicited diary for the duration of the practicum. Using thematic analysis, we highlight how participants were both subject to and complicit in the (re)production of gendered stereotypes. Findings evidenced the participants’ awareness of gendered assumptions placed upon them; however, this did not necessarily predicate their rejection of such positions, suggesting male and female teachers share responsibility for largely maintaining current hegemonic constructions of masculinities within schools.
... In the few studies that have directly asked children about their gender-based teacher preferences, the findings have been inconclusive. Some studies have reported a preference for female instructors (Galguera, 1998), whereas others have reported no preferences or preferences only in specific age groups (Carrington et al., 2007;Goebel & Cashen, 1979). Given these discrepancies in the literature, it is still an open question as to how the gender of the student and the gender of the teacher impact student's impressions of instructor competency. ...
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When university students are asked to rate their instructors, their evaluations are often influenced by the demographic characteristics of the instructor – such as the instructor’s race, gender or language background. These influences can manifest in unfair systematic biases against particular groups of teachers, and hamper movements to promote diversity in higher education. When and how do these biases develop? Here, we begin to address these questions by examining children’s sociolinguistic biases against teachers who speak with different accents. To do this, we presented five-year-old Canadian English-speaking children with pairs of adult talkers. Children were asked to select ‘who they’d like to be their teacher’ then they rated ‘how good of a teacher’ they thought each talker would be on a 5-point scale. In each trial, one talker spoke in the locally dominant variety of Canadian English, and the other spoke in a different accent. Children strongly preferred Canadian-accented teachers over teachers who spoke with non-native (i.e., French or Dutch) accents, but also demonstrated a preference for Canadian teachers over teachers who spoke with non-local regional accents (i.e., Australian or British). In line with the binary choice data, children rated the Canadian talkers more favorably. The relationship between the gender of the teacher and the gender of the child also impacted ratings. This work demonstrates that even at the onset of formal education, children may already exhibit signs of accent-based biases. We discuss these findings in relation to the growing literature on implicit bias in higher education.
Gender stereotypes in the natural sciences may discourage girls from pursuing STEM fields, thus contributing to the differential STEM pathways of males and females. This paper exploits quasi‐experimental data from a vignette study to investigate teachers’ gender bias in STEM at the transition to upper secondary school in Denmark—a key stage in students’ educational trajectories. I investigate if teachers have a higher probability of recommending a STEM track to a (vignette) male student compared with a (vignette) female student and if teachers’ STEM recommendations interact with their demographic characteristics. Results show that, while there is a gender gap of 10 percentage points in the likelihood of being recommended a STEM track, the difference is not statistically significant. Furthermore, teachers’ gender bias is influenced by the teacher's own gender and cultural capital. Consequently, the paper shows that teachers’ gender bias varies with teachers’ demographic characteristics and teachers with high levels of cultural capital can push back against gender stereotypes in STEM.
Der vorliegende Beitrag stellt den aktuellen Stand der Forschung zu Geschlechtsunterschieden in domänenspezifischen Kompetenzen im Schulalter dar und beleuchtet Mechanismen der Entstehung dieser interindividuellen Unterschiede im schulischen Kontext. Nach einem historischen Rückblick auf die Herausbildung der Forschung zum Thema Schule und Geschlecht werden die aktuellen Ergebnisse aus internationalen und nationalen Large-Scale Assessment Studien zu Geschlechterdifferenzen in den Domänen Lesen, Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften berichtet. Dabei zeigen sich für Deutschland konsistent mit Geschlechtsstereotypen übereinstimmende Unterschiede zwischen Mädchen und Jungen im Lesen und in der Mathematik, in den Naturwissenschaften hingegen vergleichbar gute Kompetenzen für beide Geschlechter. Anschließend werden verschiedene Erklärungsansätze für Geschlechtsunterschiede in schulischen Kompetenzen ausgeführt: Neben geschlechtsspezifischen Erwartungen von Lehrkräften und Geschlechtsstereotypen in Lernmaterialien werden vor allem individuelle Voraussetzungen der Schüler*innen detaillierter in den Blick genommen. Zum Abschluss geben wir einen Einblick in die Frage, wie Schule gestaltet sein muss und was Lehrkräfte konkret tun können, um den Einfluss von Geschlechtsstereotypen in der Schule und im Unterricht zu verringern.
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The aim of the study was to analyse teachers' interactions with students in order to track the differences in the messages given to pupils depending on their gender, and to study the opinions of students about the behaviour of their teachers. As part of the research, 34 hours of lessons (divided into 17 hours of mathematics and 17 hours of Polish language lessons) were observed. Additionally, the opinions of 68 students (34 girls and 34 boys) were analysed. The study employs mixed methods of data analysis (Stromquist 2007), combining a qualitative approach based on elements of grounded theory (Glaser, Strauss 2017) with quantitative comparisons of the frequency of the teacher's behavior, using χ 2 tests. The results indicate the differing nature of teachers' interactions with girls and boys; the number of interactions and their quality are more favourable in the case of boys. Girls are more often overlooked, and their achievements and contributions are less frequently noticed. In addition, students are aware of the differences in how they are treated by their teachers, pointing out, inter alia, to the importance of providing equal treatment to all students.
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Cet article vise à identifier les stéréotypes de genre véhiculés par les enseignants de sexe masculin et les garçons du secondaire dans leurs perceptions déclarées à l'égard de leurs relations enseignants-élèves (REÉ). Se situant dans une approche qualitative interprétative, cette étude met en évidence les propos de 18 enseignants et de 86 garçons du secondaire, collectés par le biais de trois stratégies de collecte de données, soit l'entrevue semi-dirigée, le groupe de discussion et le questionnaire d'enquête. Les données qualitatives obtenues ont été analysées à l'aide des catégories conceptualisantes. Les principaux résultats mettent en lumière que certains enseignants mentionnent communiquer ou intervenir auprès des garçons sur la base d'intérêts stéréotypés masculins. Quant aux garçons, plusieurs d'entre eux font ressortir la distanciation émotive des enseignants à leur égard. This article aims to identify the gender stereotypes conveyed by male teachers and male high school students in their stated perceptions of their teacher-student relationships (TSR). Using an interpretative qualitative approach, this study highlights the statements of 18 teachers and 86 boys in high school collected through three data collection strategies, namely the semi-structured interview, the focus group and the survey questionnaire. The qualitative data obtained were analyzed using the conceptualizing categories. The main results highlight that some teachers mention communication with boys is based on stereotypical male interests. In counterpart, some boys report the teachers being emotionally distant from them.
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We explore the impact of student gender, teacher gender, and their interaction on academic motivation and engagement for 964 junior and middle high school students. According to the gender-stereotypic model, boys fare better academically in classes taught by males and girls fare better in classes taught by females. The gender-invariant model suggests that the academic motivation and engagement of boys and girls is the same for men and women teachers. We also examine the relative contribution of student-, class-, and school-level factors, finding that most variation was at the individual student level. Of the statistically significant main effects for gender, most favoured girls. In support of the gender-invariant model, academic motivation and engagement does not significantly vary as a function of their teacher's gender, and in terms of academic motivation and engagement, boys do not fare any better with male teachers than female teachers.
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This article explores young people's perspectives on males and females as teachers, contrasting these with teachers' perceptions. It builds on 90 interviews of school students aged 13-14 and 60 follow-up interviews 4 years later. The first interviews were conducted in ethnographic context in two secondary schools in the mid-1990s in Helsinki, Finland. Whilst lack of male teachers is a recurrent theme in educational discussion, widely agreed among teachers, gender did not appear to be relevant when young persons talked about teachers. They appreciate teachers, irrespective of gender, who can teach and are friendly and relaxed, but who nevertheless keep order and make sure that students work. Male teachers who teach popular, non-academic subjects were often favoured by boys, but so were female teachers of academic subjects and increasingly as time went on. The interviews suggest that students do not need male teachers to act as ‘male models’. They also suggest that male teachers should be sensitive in relationships with female students. When questioned explicitly, most of the interviewees did not regard lack of male teachers as a major problem
Challenging current theories about gender and achievement, this book assesses the issues at stake and analyses the policy drives and changing perceptions of gender on which the 'gender and achievement' debates are based. This new topical book guides the reader through the different theories and approaches, drawing together and reviewing work on gender and educational performance. The authors also highlight the continuing problems experienced by girls in terms of achievement and classroom interaction. The subjects covered include: perspectives on gender and achievement the construction of gender and achievement in education policy evaluating boys' underachievement the future for boys and girls? raising achievement: 'What works in the classroom?' Teachers, education professionals and students engaged in teacher training will welcome the editors' objective yet critical expertise. © 2005 Becky Francis and Christine Skelton. All rights reserved.
This book is a celebration and an acknowledgement of the various forms of intellectual, physical, emotional and passionate endeavours in which teachers at their best engage. Christopher Day demonstrates that teachers with a passion for teaching are those who are committed, enthusiastic and intellectually and emotionally energetic in their work with children, young people and adults alike. Having this passion for helping pupils to learn has recently been identified as one of the four leadership characteristics mentioned in the HayMcBer Report on effective teachers. Day recognises that passionate teachers are aware of the challenge of the broader social contexts in which they teach, have a clear sense of identity and believe they can make a difference to the learning and achievement of all their pupils. Offering a refreshing and positive view, A Passion for Teaching is a contribution to understanding and improving the teaching profession and brings new insights to the work and lives of teachers. It is written for all teachers, teacher educators and student teachers who have a passion for education, who love learners, the learning life and the teaching life.
The move in the United Kingdom to recruit more men into primary teaching is to tackle boys under-achievement. One explanation that has been offered as to why boys' are under-achieving is the 'feminisation of primary schooling'. This article begins by exploring the findings of a national survey of student primary teachers towards gender roles and schooling. The views of the students indicated accordance with the idea that primary schools are feminised and feminising environments. The discussion here critiques these notions and argues that current educational policy is not moving forward in a direction that will actively challenge conventional stereotyping. Rather, the move is towards one where notions of masculinity and femininity will be reinforced through a 're-masculinisation' of primary schooling.[1] The research drawn upon in this article was undertaken collaboratively with Bruce Carrington and Ian Hall (University of Newcastle), and Becky Francis (University of North London). I would like to record my thanks to them all, particularly Bruce for his contribution to this article. He provided the analysis of the quantitative data and commentary on the outline of the research project. His analysis of the qualitative data on men student teachers can be found in Carrington (forthcoming). I would also like to thank colleagues at the International Sociology of Education Conference for their comments and observations, in particular Meg Maguire, and two anonymous referees of this article.
Since 1997, the Blair administration has taken various steps to make school teaching a more inclusive occupation. For example, in England and Wales it has introduced measures to increase levels of male recruitment to primary teaching and attract more ethnic minority entrants to the profession. This paper shows how these policies have been legitimated by an appeal to commonsense notions about the salience of ‘role models’ in socialization. Underlying official discourse in this sphere is the assumption that the ‘targeted recruitment’ of male or ethnic minority teachers will provide much-needed ‘role models’ in schools for those groups most likely to experience educational failure and disaffection. Thus, matching teachers and children by gender or ethnicity is seen as a panacea for male or Black ‘underachievement’. This paper begins by weighing the strengths and weaknesses of current policies on gender, ethnicity, and teaching. Having subjected the ‘role model’ argument to critical scrutiny, it moves on to discuss the dilemmas encountered by male entrants to primary teaching during the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and ethnic minority students preparing to teach in either the primary or secondary sectors. Drawing upon the findings of two recently completed studies, the students' responses to the policies under consideration and their lived experiences during school placement are considered. The paper concludes by exploring the implications of the discussion for policy.