Evaluate the claim that recent changes within schools are the main factors responsible for high female attainment.

Essay by nooUniversity, Master'sA+, March 2004

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Since the early 1990s girls have begun to out-perform boys at most levels of the education system. Explanations for this change include a number of factors that occur internally within schools. What used to be the underachievement of girls in the classroom led to the work of feminist sociologists in the 1970s and 1980s to put a greater emphasis on more equal opportunities policies in education. Teaching approaches and resources were monitored for sex bias to ensure more 'girl-friendly schooling', especially in the sciences.

Alison Kelly studied some science textbooks and found that the pictures of experiments were always being conducted by males who were often supported by a female assistant. This was problematic as the sciences were already viewed as very masculine subjects in which girls would inevitably fail. Equal opportunities policies were enforced to eradicate such negative sub conscious messages in order to encourage and cater for the female student.

These policies in theory would have raised female motivation and also given them the scope to excel. Teachers are now more sensitive about avoiding gender stereotyping in the classroom with various anti-sexist initiatives which have raised both teachers' and girls' consciousness.

Another factor within schools that could have an impact is the increase in female role models. More and more female teachers are gaining more status and power within the ranks of the education system. These role models provide an aspiration for younger female students and also settle any discomfort female students may have about being in a male dominated educational environment.

Glenys Lobin conducted a study in the 1970s of children's books and found that the story lines were often male dominated and tended to glorify the male sex. Women were found in passive roles often in need of the superior male character. These stories could consciously...