Dissertation Abstracts

Gendered Youth Cultures in Flemish Secondary Schools: Content and Association with Compositional School Features and Gender Differences in Educational Achievement

Author: Huyge, Ellen , Ellen.Huyge@UGent.be
Department: Sociology
University: Ghent University, Belgium
Supervisor: Mieke Van Houtte
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: Dutch

Keywords: student masculinities , student femininities , anti-school cultures , secondary education
Areas of Research: Education


Since the 1990s, gender-differential academic achievement in secondary education has received a lot of attention in educational research. In particular, it remains unclear why boys apparently perform worse academically, are more likely to repeat grades, have higher dropout rates, receive more referrals to special education and exhibit more disruptive school behavior (Epstein, 1998). Among the various explanations put forward, the literature points at the existence of specific student masculinities - and recently also student femininities - who relate negatively to education and reduce boys' chances of academic success at school (Warrington, Younger & Williams, 2000; Jackson, 2006). The gender-specific ‘antischool’ cultures are usually studied by qualitative research techniques. Little quantitative research actually demonstrates the association between gendered antischool cultures and gender differential achievement. Nor has it been determined what these cultures exactly encompass. By means of quantitative methodological techniques, the present dissertation aims to understand these gendered youth subcultures, and the role they play in girls' and boys' orientation towards school and academic trajectories. Moreover, this study will examine whether gendered cultures vary across schools and whether they are related to school composition features. Finally, by means of multilevel analysis, the project aims to examine the association between the gendered school cultures and gender differential achievement, in interaction with pupils’ individual characteristics and schools’ compositional features.

This study has important implications for various fields of study. Clearly, the explanation of differences in educational achievement is at the heart of educational sociology. By stressing gender differences in achievement in secondary education, the research pertains to gender studies as well. Moreover, given its focuses on how gendered adolescent cultures across different schools shape gender differences in achievement, this research deals with social structure and culture.

Ellen Huyge obtained a master’s degree in Sociology in 2006 at the University of Antwerp. After finishing her one-year academic teacher training, she started applied research on the topic of teachers, including a sociography of the occupational group and the early retirement of teachers. Subsequently, she moved on to the educational field in order to obtain teaching experience and a deeper understanding of school organizations. Since 2013, Ellen is a doctoral researcher at Ghent University, Department of Sociology, research unit CuDOS, working on the topic outlined above. The broader framework of her research is a project funded by the Flemish government agency for innovation by Science and Technology “Teaching in the Bed of Procrustes”. She works in cooperation with Prof. Mieke Van Houtte and Dr. Dimitri Van Maele.