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Student Success Strategies: Boys vs. Girls

September 10, 2015
Content student success strategies  boys vs. girls  2

Student Success Strategies: Boys vs. Girls 

Many people balk at the idea that different genders need different things in order to achieve the same level of success. Some people believe that establishing gender based teaching or success strategies will result in the coddling or favoring of one gender over another. Others believe that these strategies will build resentment between the genders. A third argument about gender based success strategies in school is that it pigeon-holes people into gender stereotypes. The only thing is this. These arguments assume that gender based learning and teaching strategies cause these issues. In reality, these issues already exist. Behavioral expectations are different for boys than they are for girls. Girls and boys are encouraged to pursue different academic interests based on their genders. The purpose of gender based educational success strategies is to balance these things out and create an educational environment that is fair for all genders. Here are some examples where disparities exist and members of both genders suffer due to these disparities. Fortunately, there are ways to resolve each of these issues as long as educators remain both open-minded and vigilant.

STEM and Gender Success Strategies

It is a well-known fact that boys are more likely to be encouraged to go into technical fields than girls are. The answer to this program so far seems to be the creation of  a separate niche for girls in STEM programs. These range from classrooms where girls are encouraged to learn to write code to after school clubs where girls can learn robotics. This is a step in the right direction, but there are still problems. First, many of the programs that are aimed at girls are dumbed down significantly when compared to what boys are offered. Second, the separation of genders in the STEM classroom will always leave the impression that abilities of one gender is lesser than the abilities of the other gender. Finally, this kind of segregation is a disservice to boys who will not know how to work with the opposite sex in the laboratory, on the job site, or while doing field research. Given some of the extremely sexist remarks made by well-known scientist, it is more than clear that the ability to work with the opposite gender is definitely a problem that needs to be addressed.

Gender and Classroom Management

This is the area where members of both genders are done a great disservice. In some ways, males are favored in the classroom. They are most likely to be called on to give answers, for example. They are also most likely to be given leadership roles in the classroom. They are also more likely to be complicated on their skills and accomplishments. However, boys are also more likely to be harshly disciplined and less likely to be offered emotional support if they are having a bad day.

Things don't fair much better for girls. Girls are often expected to change their behavior and actions to accommodate the needs of boys in the classroom. They are less likely to be called on for answers, especially in the areas of math and science. In addition to this, when girls are complimented it is more likely to be for 'being nice' or 'being a good helper' and not for specific things they have accomplished. Girls are less likely to be disciplined as harshly as boys for the same infractions, and are more likely to receive emotional support from teachers.

Both genders would be better prepared for success if behavioral expectations and support systems were the same for each gender. Teachers can also facilitate success by assigning leadership positions equally between genders, and by encouraging girls to participate in classroom discussions.

Gender and Academic Assistance

Members of both genders tend to need assistance at approximately the same rate. However, they often need help in different areas. For example boys tend to need help in the soft subjects such as English and Social Studies. Girls tend to need help in the areas of math, science, and technology. Unfortunately, school staff often assumes that this is because the stereotype is true. Boys are better at math and science, while girls are better at English, art, and history. The reality is that the differences in ability are more often than not, the result of that stereotyping in earlier grades. Girls don't reach high school or college with deficiencies in mathematics due to lack of natural talent. They have these deficiencies because they weren't offered the same learning opportunities and expectations. The same goes for boys who reach college and struggle with writing. What this means is that educators must now focus on filling in the gaps and teaching skills that should have been taught to students earlier. What they must avoid doing is presuming that a student is simply incapable.