Dissertation Abstracts

Gender Identity and the Educational Gender Gap in Secondary Education

Author: Vantieghem, Wendelien , wendelien.vantieghem@ugent.be
Department: sociology
University: Ghent University, Belgium
Supervisor: Mieke Van Houtte
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: gender identity , education , gender gap , gender conformity
Areas of Research: Education , Social Psychology , Youth


Studies show that there is a pervasive gender gap in education in most secondary schools across the Western world. Boys tend to have lower grades, repeat years more often, are overrepresented in remedial classes and lower tracks, drop out more often, and ultimately, fewer boys proceed to higher education.
This doctoral research is part of the Procrustes project, which examines the educational gender gap in Flanders (Belgium). Surveys are collected from 59 schools and over 6000 students in the course of four years. Consequently, the change in performance and attitudes of these youngsters will be studied from the 7th to the 9th grade, which is the life phase where the educational gender gap tends to widen.
The topic of this research is the impact of gender identity on educational performance and non-cognitive parameters, which are important for educational success (such as study-motivation and academic self-efficacy). Gender identity refers to the extent to which people see themselves as masculine or feminine and is measured through the self-concept questionnaire of Egan & Perry (2001). Through the concept of gender identity, we can not only assess intersexual differences. Instead, we can also examine the intrasexual differences, which tend to be overlooked in most research, and render both high-achieving boys and low-achieving girls visible.
The impact of the pressure for gender conformity and how this relates to well-being is examined as well.
All of this is framed within the 'doing gender' and masculinities theory framework. However, this research also improves upon these theoretical frameworks by considering individual differences, whereas most masculinities research tends to remain group-based, qualitative and post-hoc.