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Females are succeeding because there are increasing job opportunities in the service sector. The women’s movement has raised expectations, so females want to do well in life and not just become a mother and wife. Teachers have also become aware of stereotyping, so now females can choose any subject they want to do. Females have more successful role models to look up to and aspire to. Also changes in education have allowed females to do well in their GCSE’s and A-levels due to coursework.

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Paul Willis states that the reason for male underachievement is due to the fact that they are actively trying to fail at school. They have created an ‘anti-school’ subculture where they have to live up to their macho reputation. By doing this they have sealed their opportunity for success and are blocked by the restrictions of the group to learn or do well in education. Mitsos and Browne have suggested many reasons for the underachievement of males. One of the main reasons is that boys are over confident.

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Because of this they believe that they are smarter than what they are – they feel that they can ‘wag’ it. Also because of this over confidence they are more disruptive in class. They act as if they know everything and thus spend more time getting into trouble than actually learning. Another suggestion of Mitsos and Browne is that teachers are less strict with boys than girls. They push girls to achieve their target grades, but with boys the teachers may feel more intimidated so allow them to misbehave in class.

A reason for male underachievement is the use of negative labels by teachers, and males acting them out – self fulfilling prophecy. Also the time boys waste by being in trouble is very valuable as they could be learning information that could improve their grades. And finally, the decline in industry has led to a decline in jobs; this has had a negative effect on boy’s motivation. In conclusion, girls have been over achieving due to changes in the national curriculum and having higher aspirations of careers.

Boys have still been increasing in achievement, but they have not succeeded as well or as quickly as the girls, so are classed as underachieving. In the future, I feel that the gender gap will decrease as boys become more aware of jobs and qualifications that can help them in later life; so put more effort into getting good qualifications. I believe that there will still be some de-individualisation and self fulfilling prophecy, but it will be on a lesser scale.

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Kylie Garcia

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