UK study: Female teachers give boys lower grades

At least in Britain, female teachers mark boys more harshly than outside examiners, according to a London School of Economics study.

Expecting lower grades from female teachers, boys worked less in their classes, the study found. Girls think — incorrectly — that male teachers will favor them and work harder for them.

“Students from low-income families and minority ethnic backgrounds do not believe in systematic teacher biases,” researchers reported. They found no evidence of grading bias based on socioeconomic or minority status.

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  1. I wouldn’t be surprised to find the same bias here. Even when my older kids entered ES, in the early 80s, many teachers rewarded those who were compliant, not too active and willing to make their work pretty – very neat and lots of coloring; in other words, girls. The older teachers, who would now be retired, were more likely to let boys be boys and to grade on correct answers, without rewarding decorations.

  2. How do you separate the cart from the horse? If boys slack off in anticipation that a female teacher will grade them more harshly, they may be getting the grades they deserve. It also could be that the issue is less “teachers grade them more harshly because they’re boys,” and more, “teachers grade students who slack off more harshly than those who make an honest effort.”

    • Female teachers who assign/allow only girly books, expect even math papers to be pretty (colored pencils, fancy lettering, small drawings etc), assign lots of artsy-crafty, touchy-feely projects and treat boy interests and behavior as irrelevant and/or pathological can turn boys off very quickly. Direct comparisons (don’t be so itchy; sit still like Heather) don’t help, either. With some teachers, I had to work very hard to convince them to allow my kids (including my daughter) to read some high-quality books that appealed to boys – Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels and versions of legends (Iliad, King Arthur etc), Robinson Crusoe, Ransom of Red Chief, Swiss Family Robinson, Aesop’s Fables, D’Aulaire’s Myths, Eleven Blue Men (classic epidemiology) etc – instead of Judy Blume novels.

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        No Sweet Valley High? Your kids are poorly educated, indeed.

        • Very true – Missing those books kept me awake nights. Maybe some teachers used them in 5th-6th grade, when my kids were lucky enough to have an excellent (and older) ELA teacher who assigned good books. They loved Bright Candles, about kids’ involvement in the Danish Resistance (WWII) so much that I bought them a copy.

          • Richard Aubrey says:

            Did you get the book about Norwegian kids sledding gold past the Germans? I thought that was terrific.
            I recall Heinlein’s juveniles. They ended with Starship Troopers. After that, imo, he was indulging himself as a dirty old man. But up to that, good stuff. Some science built in, and young guys growing up.
            Andre Norton wrote hard sci-fi for juvies or YA. One commenter said her protagonists were always on their own, looking for a family. She went into magic and fantasy in the mid-Sixties with Witch World and got too many dei ex machinii. Not sure that’s the correct plural, but my Latin is half a century gone. Some of her stuff is available on Amazon, but her shorter work, written for Ace Doubles, is probably not.
            I got Star Rangers by Norton and Foundation by Asimov from Scholastic Books in the fourth grade.
            Looked at a HS reader the other day. Had some of the new folks, Morrison and Angelou. Missed “The Devil and Dan’l Webster”, although I suppose you’d have to teach a course in American history first for it to make sense to students these days. Yeah. That’s it. That’s why it’s not included. Too hard. Yup.

          • Snow Treasure! So good. My kids are still pretty young, so we’re still working our way through Sid Fleischman and Roald Dahl right now. (though we just started the Hobbit, too.)

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Back about thirty years ago, my wife had a remedial reading class–she was junior in the HS–which amounted to giving the kids a bunch of juvie paperbacks and telling them to keep quiet. It was the way the prin wanted it.
    I read or read in some of the books.
    Didn’t seem like the good stuff we had when I was a kid. Sort of like trying to ape Catcher in The Rye, where a loser was the hero.
    Apparently what we thought were virtues weren’t, any longer.
    Hope-against hope–that’s not how it goes today, but the takeaway from this thread is that the good stuff has to be found by the parents, not the schools.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Lightly. Right. I had forgotten. There’s a place for the anti-hero in lit. But I hope the HS lit readers include more heroes.
    Thing is, the guys we read about in HS are role models to an extent. Even unconsciously, we absorb such things at that age.
    Might as well be good guys as anti-heroes, losers, nihilists. I mean, it’s ink on paper. Doesn’t cost any more to have good guys than bad guys, so if the modern HS lit selections trend one way or another, it’s not the money.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    Ed got what he had coming to him. What was right was clear except where he didn’t have the right data. That’s what makes a tragedy instead of the story of a psycho.
    If you want to teach, say, Catcher by discussing every screwup he committed and the ways not to mess yourself up, sort of using the book as a reverse instruction manual, it might be useful.