Why does gender matter?

2017-03-01T05:51:09Z (GMT) by Lee, Janeanne Dawn
There has been debate for many years about a range of issues related to Gender and Mathematics. A key issue has been the discussion surrounding the Gender Gap- the difference between the scores achieved by males and females when completing Standardised Assessment tasks. Results from international studies, designed to examine the most recent PISA and TIMSS results, continue to show that a Gender Gap exists and that a larger percentage of males correctly answer the questions than females. Analysis of Australian NAPLAN data also shows evidence of a Gender Gap favouring males. This research investigates the results obtained by a year 9 cohort at a multi campus school in Australia at which a gender gap had been identified and aims to identify and clarify whether Standardised Assessment Tests, in particular NAPLAN, privilege a gendered way of thinking. The students at this school are taught at year 9 level in single gender classes. The study comprised an analysis of the NAPLAN tests, the administration of an anonymous survey and interviews with two focus groups using students from a year 9 cohort. The results of this study, for this sample of students, replicated those of previous studies indicating that the style of questions being asked and the content of the tasks are more suited to males. The investigation found that that within each task the questions had a gender bias and that the female students used a different strategy to solve multiple choice questions than did males. A key suggestion was that the male strategy was more successful and female students should be encouraged to use a different process. The issue of confidence with mathematics was also investigated and, amongst this group of students, it was found that the females were more successful if they felt confident with the content being assessed.