Gender bias exposed in report

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An OECD report on gender in education across more than 60 countries, has found that teachers consistently give better marks to girls than boys in maths, even when they perform similarly in the OECD PISA maths test.

The evidence suggests this may be because girls are more attentive in class and behave better and are marked up as a result.

In the long term, says the report, this will hurt rather than help girls, as employers reward people for what they know and can do more than grades at school.

In contrast, boys are more likely to be hostile towards school and likely to do fewer hours of homework, says the OECD study. In addition, as they get older, boys are more likely to start withdrawing in class and becoming disengaged.

When it comes to teachers' marking, the study says there is a consistent pattern of girls' work being marked up. It suggests that teachers hold stereotypical ideas about boys' and girls' academic strengths and weaknesses.

Teachers were found to reward organisational skills, good behaviour and compliance rather than objectively marking pupils' work.

The findings suggested that teachers needed to be aware of gender bias, and it also raises questions about whether such bias really benefited girls.

The report also showed that in science and maths, girls often underestimated their own ability. Even when they were as good or better than boys in these subjects, they still lacked the self-confidence to pursue careers in science and technology.

School Leadership Today
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