Gender matters

Eighth-grade boys learn more from male teachers and girls do better with female teachers, concludes a study by Thomas Dee, an associate professor of economics at Swarthmore, which will appear in the fall Education Next. The study relied on federal data collected in 1988 on nearly 25,000 eighth graders nationwide.

Dee found that having a female teacher instead of a male teacher raised the achievement of girls and lowered that of boys in science, social studies and English.

Looked at the other way, when a man led the class, boys did better and girls did worse.

. . . with a female teacher, boys were more likely to be seen as disruptive. Girls were less likely to be considered inattentive or disorderly.

In a class taught by a man, girls were more likely to say the subject was not useful for their future. They were less likely to look forward to the class or to ask questions.

The study is sure to be controversial. Eighty percent of U.S. teachers are women, the highest proportion in 40 years.

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  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    On the other hand, male prisoners have more fun with female guards and vice versa. Who’da thunl it?

  2. georgelarson says:

    None of the following is the result of any systematic study

    I have met lots (but not even half) of women who do not want to work for another female, but most of the girls and women I went to school with seemed to prefer the women teachers and professors.

    I have known men and women I have hated having to learn from. I have also known men and women it was pleasure to learn from. For me individual personalities matter more than the sex of the instructor.

    It would be best for everyone if kids could accept instruction from adults they do not like or respect, but fat chance.

  3. My school hired five new English teachers over the summer, all of them female, leaving me the sole source of testosterone in the department. Teachers at our school that went to college in the Age of Diversity, particularly female teachers, tend to use light-weight multicultural literature than that from the more demanding and intellectually superior traditional canon. Be that as it may, I find it most unfortunate that male students these days will have eight female teachers out of ten in their high school pilgrimages. I’m not knocking women, but it gets to the point that guys may associate playing school and academic success as a game best suited for women and not men. And could this be one of the reasons that males fill out less than 50% of all college aps? I can look back on my high school days and remember many fine male teachers I had and how they influenced me not only as conduits of knowledge but as role models as well.

  4. Yet again, another statistical observation that has no application for individual classrooms.
    Variation among teachers of the same sex will be greater than the observed variation between the two sexes… so the study is pretty much useless.