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Boys will be boys: Young people’s perceptions and experiences of gender within education

Skipper, Y and Fox, C (2021) Boys will be boys: Young people’s perceptions and experiences of gender within education. Pastoral Care in Education. ISSN 0264-3944

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Restricted to Repository staff only until 5 January 2023.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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Abstract

Despite many attempts in recent years, gender differences in young people’s experiences of education are still very much in existence. In this study we explored how gender impacted young people’s experiences of secondary education. We conducted five focus groups with N = 35 young people (N = 11 male) aged 13–14 years from a school in a low socio-economic status (SES), area in England and asked whether there were different expectations in school for boys and girls and the impact that this might have. Using thematic analysis, four key themes were identified that mostly related to boys: gender impacts subject choice, boys are naughty, and boys are strong. Furthermore, young people felt under extreme pressure to conform to gender stereotypes. Teachers were seen as inadvertently promoting gender stereotypes, while peers were often seen as doing this intentionally and harmfully. This indicates that gender can have a strong impact on young people’s experiences in secondary school and it is important to work with young people to empower them to change this.

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