Gender Patterns and Student Agency: Secondary School Students’ Perceptions Over Time

May. 21, 2010

Source: European Educational Research Journal, Volume 9 Number 2, (2010). p. 257-268.

This paper focuses on students’ perceptions of gender relations in school over the last three decades.

The analysis is based on data from three inquiry surveys in Swedish secondary schools from 1974, 1992 and 2005. The article compares how young students
(a) perceive the behaviour of boys and girls in a classroom situation,
(b) value different aspects of family and work in their future lives, and
(c) experience the power relations between girls/women and boys/men.

The analysis indicates both stability and change.
In some aspects, the students perceive certain classroom behaviour as highly gendered, but in parallel there is a trend that girls have taken on a more active role in the classroom and are more career-oriented than before.
But even though girls seem to have expanded their positions of agency over time, they have not improved their overall status in the gender hierarchy.
Rather, the results point in the opposite direction, since the general opinion is that it is more favourable to be male than female. Compared to 1974, this is expressed even more strongly in 2005.

Updated: Oct. 29, 2010