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.