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Gender Differences in Play

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Published: Mon, 12 Feb 2018

Children in the primary years of school learn much both in and out of the classroom. This is the time they begin reading, writing, and basic mathematics. During these crucial years they are also learning who they are and how they relate to the world around them. One important aspect of this development of self-concept is the idea of gender. Children bring to their primary years an understanding developed through home, community, and previous educational experiences of their own genders and those of others. However, gender concepts are often encouraged and reinforced significantly during the primary years, both in the classroom and through structured and unstructured play.

It is important to begin with an examination of what gender really is. Most research into gender has been undertaken by those representing feminist, homosexual, orother non-traditional gender constructs, and possibly for this reason has received less attention in traditional media or education forums.This leads to a misunderstanding of gender, its implications on the individual’s development, and its influence on the education and play of children. However, the conscious or unconscious attitudes towards gender that surround children have great impact both on their conceptsof gender definition and their own understanding of their freedom to develop a self-image within gender boundaries.

Gender and chromosomal sex are often confused in the minds of many people. A person is born with either male or female genitalia, which determines both their sex and gender. This is a misunderstanding of both gender and its development within the individual. Most people are born from a physical standpoint as either female or male, although some rare individuals are born with part or all of both physical attributes,and a rarer group with neither. However, physical equipment is not the determinant of gender, society is. Most societies have historically held that physical “maleness” or “femaleness” determines gender, which then leads to the development of certain sexual desires,attributes and actions (Butler 1990). Physical differences werebelieved to create two distinct genders, male and female. Being a man,that is, having masculine desires and performing masculine actions, isdistinct and wholly separate from being a woman, with feminine desiresand performances. Masculine and feminine traits were believed to notbe a matter of choice, which caused all individuals to be classified as either male or female (Hawkesworth 1997). Importantly, this leads mostsocieties to value a heteronormality, and try to conform to themale/female binary or somehow bring under control anyone with desiresor actions outside of the these gender distinctions. (Gamson and Moon2004).

People who behave outside of the traditional genders have been found to be stigmatised by society and considered deviant (Epstein 1997). This is particularly difficult for young children who do not fit gendernorms. Little girls who excel at traditionally male activity, such as sport, or who have a boyish appearance are often the targets of slursand bullying; even more often such are directed at effeminate boys oryoung men participating in traditionally feminine pursuits (). Whilst there has been a relaxation of gender absolutes in recent years,children (and adults) still face a strong pressure from society toconform to the community’s ideas of male and female. Society tries to“fix” individuals outside what it considers to be normative behaviour, often with the best intentions, by pressuring those in a minority gender role to conform to stereotypical patterns of behaviour (Epstein1997). Those who remain the male / female binary, refusing to conform,are “either excluded or demonised, and the border between the normaland the perverse is carefully patrolled” (Bem 1995, 331).

People, especially children, are therefore forced to choose onegender role or the other, or be socially outcast. If androgyny exists,the community will typically assign gender to the individual based onappearance (Lucal 1999). “Gender traits are called attributes for areason: People attribute traits to others. No one possesses them.Traits are the process of evaluation” (Weston 1996, 21). Young children often use a variety of external appearance symbols to decide the gender of another, and some believe, for example, that if a boygrows long hair and wears nail polish he will become a girl. By theprimary years, however, basic gender definition is already substantially established, both as part of the self-concept of the individual child and in the minds of children as a group (Jordan1995). Children are progressing during this period, however, in thedevelopment of their own gender identity, whether or not it fits withprescribed norms. Children during the primary years are alsocontinuing in the negotiation of gender definitions, and aresubsequently open to an expansion of gender beyond the rigid “boys actthis way” and “girls act this way” stereotypes (Jordan 1995). Teacher sat the primary level have the opportunity to expand these ideas ofgender to allow a wider availability of self-expression, or confirmtraditional gender stereotypes, often with profound affect on theirstudents (Jordan 1995).

This development of gender concept has extremely important ramifications both for the child and society. Gender not only determines many of the expectations for males and females, including behaviour, roles, and interests, it in some ways determines relative value (Murphy 2003). Gender roles “prescribe the division of labor and responsibilities between males and females and accord different rightsto them… creating inequality between the sexes in power, autonomy, andwell-being, typically to the disadvantage of females” (Murphy 2003,205). Children are socialized, through home, community and school, into gender-defined attitudes and behaviour (Murphy 2003).

As opposed to its historic one-or-the-other binary of male orfemale, gender has recently been recognised as a learned performance, aset of actions and self-beliefs developed by the individual in the context of his or her own feelings and the roles offered by society (Hawkesworth 1997). This opens the possibility for gender roles beyondthe binary male/female concept. Consequently, whilst sex isbiological, gender must be viewed as derived from cultural experience (Murphy 2003). As a cultural construct, gender involves the incorporation of various symbols, which may support, exaggerate, oreven distort the potential of the individual (Hawkesworth 1997).

Gender is created over time by the repetition of these symbols, withhow the acts are interpreted from society to society allowing for adiversity of norms in gender actions (Butler 1990). For example, for two grown men to hold hands as they walk down the street would beconsidered a homosexual symbol in the UK, but is common practise and holds no such connotation in parts of Africa. Each society has adistinct set of symbols for gender orientation, although there are many commonalities from community to community (Runker and Duggan 1991).Within a given society, boys learn what it is to “act like a man,” and by repeating these actions over time establish their masculinity andthemselves as males. Girls learn to “act like women,” that is, todress and behave in whatever society has defined as a feminine manner.

This leads to a definition of gender as a performance, something eachindividual acts out, rather than a biologically based construct (Butler1990). This view provides a number of gender possibilities outsidethe traditional male/female, and also challenges what is “male” or“female” behaviour. For example, who determined that girls should playwith dolls but not trucks, and boys with trucks but not dolls? Bem(1995) refutes such absolutes, holding that masculine is not the opposite of feminine, but that an individual can be both masculine and feminine at the same time, or even strongly one or the other at different times. “There is a co-dependence between femininities andmasculinities which means that neither can be fully understood inisolation from the other” (Reay 2001, 153-154).

Epstein (1996) describes Kinsey’s research into gender as determining genders to fall over a continuum rather than in two distinct groups.This continuum spans male, female, homosexual, heterosexual, andeverything in between. Rather than being either “male” or “female,”with distinctly matching interests and sexual desires, an individual is somewhere in this fluid range of gender (Epstein 1996). Each person performs repetitive actions and builds gender-based concepts, whichdetermine his or her place on the continuum of gender identity. This further determines whether he or she “feels” like a man or “feels” likea woman, or perhaps identifies with some other self-produced category(Bem 1995).

Research has indicated that children have a strong desire to mimic or be like those they consider similar to themselves. (Pidgeon, 1994;Thorne, 1993). For example, “Boys create and preserve their masculinity through fear and rejection of whatever might be construedas female” (Jordan 1995, 75). The understanding of themselves asdifferent from girls, the participating in activities that make them“feel” like boys, the avoidance of pursuits or behaviours others might associate with girls, and most importantly copying what they perceiveto be masculine behaviours help boys determine and reinforce their feelings and understanding of being “male” in the traditionalmale/female gender binary.

This is not limited to boys. Most children are highly motivated tolearn and practice whatever actions or concepts they deem necessary toachieve what they personally consider to be gender-appropriatebehaviour. This gender-appropriate behaviour is usually developed athome from a very early age, and reinforced through school and community experiences (Thorne 1993). Unless those in positions of authority or influence specifically address issues such as social justice and genderbias, most children will come to believe that the two distinct genders, male and female, and their associated contemporary gender boundariesare both natural and correct.

The definition of genders within society is often hegemonic. To beable to recognise constricting or reinforcing behaviours within thearea of gender, then, it is important to first examine how the society in question defines masculinity or femininity. There tends to be moreresearch on hegemonic masculinity than femininity, presumably becauseof its impact on world systems of governance, economics, and power (Cohn and Weber 1999). The patriarchal society that still dominatesworld society rests on such masculine definition (Cohn and Enloe2003). Whilst women are increasingly included and allowed positions ofinfluence in such systems, most would concur the systems still operateby and for men, as they were designed. Women who participate must do so within a male construct and paradigm, which is sometimes at odds to their own preferences for dealing with a situation (Cohn and Enloe2003).

Connell (1995) first developed the term ‘hegemonic masculinity’ todescribe the definition of masculinity preferred by society. He arguedthat at any particular moment in history, there are number of different masculinities presented in a given society. However, society valuesone or a few masculinities over the others, setting this definition upas the “ideal” to which men (and boys) should aspire. This ideal isconstructed in relation to both these other masculinities and to femininity in the society. Setting up one type of masculinity as idealallows the society to justify the dominance of this gender norm withinit, justifying the domination of men who fit this definition over womenand men outside it (Cohn and Weber 1999). “Hegemonic masculinitypreserves male power through the denigration of women” and men outsideits boundaries (Ashley 2003, 258). “It has led to a narrowing ofcultural opportunities for boys through the perceived need to conformto narrow ‘macho’ stereotypes which requires boys to exclude themselvesfrom any activity popular with girls” (Ashley 2003, 258).

Many writers typify the military as the pinnacle of hegemonicmasculinity, and use it in describing male gender definitions inWestern countries. Cohn and Weber (1999) describe the military aspromising to mould boys into a “real” man, “the hegemonically masculineman, which is, of course, seen as something good” (462). Typicalcharacteristics of the successful soldier include physical andemotional courage, loyalty, ability to endure hardship, fearlessness,compartmentalisation of one’s emotions, and tolerance for andwillingness to take risks. “And male bonding – you can’t be a manuntil you’ve bonded with other men” (Cohn and Weber 1999, 461). Cohnand Weber (1999) argue, however, that instead of “producing all ofthese culturally admired qualities we associate with hegemonicmasculinity,” such gender boundaries, compartmentalisation of emotion,and reduction of anything feminine “creates some of the cripplingqualities of manhood (Cohn and Weber 1999, 463). Men are forced toconform to such limiting boundaries, such as “real men don’t cry,” andare restricted in the socially acceptable means by which they canpractise self-expression. Men are categorised as dominant, aggressiveand warlike, women as passive, compassionate and peaceful, and anythingoutside these definitions is not considered appropriate or positivelyreinforced (Tickner 1999).

This link between reinforcement of masculinity in the military andin the classroom is often played out in power struggles and bullyingwithin a given class, or the school as a whole. “In the early schoolyears most of the boys’ co-operative play revolves around suchfantasies, and boys who are not capable of positioning themselveswithin these narratives are excluded from peer play” (Jordan 1995,78). There is further a strong reinforcement of “the ‘warrior’discourse, a discourse that… depicts the male as the warrior, theknight errant, the superhero” (Jordan 1995, 78). In this context, themasculinity of the hero or the boy in a position of power is derivedfrom and dependent on the behaviour of others, above whom he positionshimself, thus confirming his male dominance and masculinity (Jordan1995). This is often reinforced by girls, who will ignore their ownwants or needs to make sure dominant boys feel comfortable, and arelikely to simply agree with these boys or avoid them rather thanexplore issues between the two or assert their own rights (Moylan 2003).

Within the primary classroom, much of the power assumption and bullying documented is gender-based, aimed at girls, or more prominently, atboys outside traditional hegemony. Sexualised harassment is common,and clearly linked to the reproduction of hegemonic masculinity(Renold, 2000). Skelton (2001) has concluded from research that “primary school boys engage in the reproduction of hegemonicmasculinity through a discourse of ‘gay’ and ‘girlie’ against peers who do not overtly engage in the hegemonic performance of ‘football, fighting and girlfriends’” (19). However, “given the opportunity, farmore boys than currently do would rebel against hegemonic masculinityand its cultural proscriptions… Many boys are unhappy with the enforceddichotomy between public and private self” (Walker, 2001, 132).

Social class is also a component of what type of man a boy aspiresto be (Ashley 2003). Roughness, for example, is more prized amongstworking-class boys. In a study of a typical British primary class,Reay (2001) notes the class of nearly thirty was primarilyworking-class, with two middle-class boys. Although one of these boyswas not particularly interested in sport or likely to participate infights, he was still considered one of the most popular boys in theclass. Reay hypothesises the class adjusted its definition of therequirements of masculinity due to his social status, as a similarworking-class boy was not afforded such acceptance. She furtherconcludes this variance “suggests that popular discourses may mask theextent to which white, middle-class male advantages in both the sphereof education and beyond continue to be sustained” (Reay 2001, 157).There is an “almost unspoken acceptance of white, middle-classmasculinity as the ideal that all those ‘others ’—girls as well asblack and white working-class boys—are expected to measure themselvesagainst. (Reay 2001, 157).

Overall, it is clear that encouragement and reinforcement of anarrow definition of appropriate masculinity is limiting for many boys,hampering both their growth and development of true self-identity. Ifschools are able to expand the perceptions of acceptable genderbehaviours, these boys will be allowed to express themselves freely andexplore who they are, the same freedom afforded boys who naturally fallwithin the hegemonic stereotype.

Considerably less research has been undertaken on hegemonicfemininity, which should be noted in and of itself. Studies find agreater array of acceptable behaviour for girls, however, althoughbounded strongly by social class. For example, in a study of working-and middle-class primary school students, Reay (2001) found that whilstthere were some shared attributes, the desirable characteristics of onegroup differed significantly from that of the other. Quietness,propriety, and diligence in one’s studies were all found to be valuedcharacteristics for the middle-class girls. In addition, Reay’s studyreaffirmed “findings of feminist research which position ‘being nice’as specific to the formulation of white, middle-class femininity (Reay2001, 159). Working-class girls were more likely to be sexual in theirexpression, or present as tomboys. For the majority of theseworking-class girls, “being a ‘nice girl’ signified an absence of thetoughness and attitude that they were aspiring to” (Reay 2001, 159).
There was a considerable emphasis on appearance, all but the tomboygroup highly valuing feminine clothing and accessories, such as hairornaments or fingernail polish. In another study, girls stressed “thedifficulty and constant negotiation involved in positioning themselvesas fashionable and desiring a fashion that at one moment rendered themattractive and at another labelled them a ‘tart’ in the regulation oftheir bodies and their bodily expression (Renold 2000, 314).Interestingly, it was often other girls applying the pressure for suchtight-rope positioning, further indicating the importance of peerinfluence on gender negotiation, even at a young age (Renold 2000).Girls were critical of their physical appearance, with a very narrowphysical ideal presented to which they wished to conform. “Typicaldaily rituals included checking and regulating arms, legs, hips andthighs, positioning their bodies and others’ as ‘too fat’ or ‘too thin’and advocating the need to diet” (Renold 2000, 310). The tomboy groupwas the only one in either study to construct gender identities throughdifferentiation from both “feminine” girls and boys. This group wasmost likely to pursue alternative dress and fashion. (Renold 2000, 316)
In terms of relationships, girls are encouraged to be helpers of othersand supportive of both the teacher and boys in the class. Girls of allsocial classes are typically expected to be polite, kind, andcompassionate to others in the classroom. Women and girls arehegemonically expected to be collaborative, work together, and devisewin-win alternatives to problem-solving (Rabrenovic and Roskos 2001).Girls failing to perform within such gender determinants of appearanceand action are typically ostracised from social and play activities,and often become the butt of the bullying and teasing, described above,by which other girls and boys position themselves within the group(Runker and Duggan 1991).

Prominent in both hegemonic masculinity and femininity is the emphasison heterosexuality as normative behaviour. This has an extreme effecton gender norming, even amongst pre-sexual children. Although their isa prevalent believe that heterosexual relations somehow symbolise entryinto adolescence, Epstein (1997) and others have documented howsix-year-olds “date” each other, and how even four- and five-year-oldspractise and reinforce heterosexuality in their interactions and play(Epstein, 1997). There is considerable external pressure to conform toheterosexual gender norms for all children. Boys are often tauntedhomophobically if their classroom or playground interactions with otherboys were questionably feminine, or if they themselves “failed or chosenot to access hegemonic masculine discourses and practices” (Renold2000, 322). Girls are reported to “construct their femininity, or whatmight be better described as ‘hyper-femininity’, through a specific,culturally coded somatic ideal, viewing their bodies as only desirablewhen, through the validation of others, they are heterosexualised”(Renold 2000, 311). Boundaries of heteronomativity are fiercelyenforced by peers, and also by authority figures such as parents andteachers (Frank et al 2003).
Renold (2000) and Reay (2001) both indicate a high number ofheterosexual pairings, often refered to as boyfriend and girlfriend bythe children involved, amongst children in the primary years. Theserelationships further solidified the heterosexuality of the childreninvolved, and called into question the gender boundaries of those whodid not participate. For example, Connolly (1998) noted that someprimary-aged boys chose not to engage in heterosexualboyfriend-girlfriend relationships. Some stated they were not ready ortoo young, while others stated a desire to wait until they couldexperience a “real” relationship involving intimate sexual activity.In a similar finding, unless boys such as these “successfully performedas ‘tough-guys’, ‘footballers’ or were ‘sporting competent’, their‘heterosexuality’ would be called into question and they would often be‘homosexualised’ and denigrated as ‘gay’” (Renold 2000, 320). Thisprovided two limited routes through which a boy in the primary yearscould establish his heterosexual hegemonic masculinity, either sport orgirlfriends (Connolly, 1998).
Heterosexual boundaries are therefore shown to further support thedevelopment of hegemonic masculinity and femininity, as the two aretypically developed through rejection of the other. That is, a truemale rejects anything in or around him that is feminine, and separatesfrom such “polluting” attributes. The same is true in reverse,although less dramatically, for females (Cohn and Weber 1999). Thismakes it all the more important that the school environment encourage awide range of gender definitions, allowing students options later forlegitimate self-expression, rather than forced conformity.

“Gender behaviours and differences are learned from birth and have aprofound impact on identity and social roles” (Pidgeon, 1994). Mostchildren learn these gender definitions through interaction with theirfamilies and to a lesser extent their community. Many are alsoinfluenced through previous educational environments such as infantschool. “Children who spend full days in a childcare environment learnmuch about what it means in such a setting to be a boy or a girl.Children also learn gender roles at home and bring rules of gendersocialization into their childcare settings” (Chick, Heilman-Houser andHunter 2002, 153). It is important to note, however, that children’sgender definitions are not fixed in the primary years. Rather genderroles are socially constructed throughout a person’s life in ways bothongoing and active (Thorne, 1993). Another facet of note is thefinding by Pidgeon (1994) that children do not learn what is and is nota gender-appropriate behaviour by imitating the actions of others.While the actions of others and the positive or negative reinforcementthey provide has a profound and fundamental affect on genderdefinition, children also make choices related to gender negotiation,and “demonstrate their own ideas of what it means to be a boy or agirl” (Pidgeon, 1994, 24).

Young children become aware of gender gradually in relation tothemselves, and later in relation to other people. Most have achievedsome type of gender identity by age three (Jacklin and Lacey 1997). Ina hegemonically traditional environment, they come to accept that allpersons will be either male or female, and that gender will generallybe constant by the age of five. Most learn that gender is stable, andremains fixed throughout a person’s life (Jacklin and Lacey 1997).This makes it important to examine the gender constructs children arealready likely to have developed before entry to primary school.Studies have shown that strong hegemonic conceptions of gender arealready dominant in most children’s thinking by this time (Jacklin andLacey 1997).
Infant schools, day-care facilities, and even home environments areoften heavily stereotyped to “male” and “female” conventions. Boys areconventionally dressed in clothes that allow for range of movement andactive play, while girls are often “dressed up” in clothing thatpromotes quiet or less active play (Runker and Duggan 1991).Similarly, boys’ toys are typically bright, primary colours, andinclude things that require larger movement for play, such as cars,trucks, blocks, and balls. Girls’ toys are more likely to be pastel incolour, with pink being the most favoured colour for girls amongst toymanufacturers. Girls’ toys are typically replicants of itemsassociated with the traditional roles of women, such as miniaturekitchens, dishes, and houses. Dolls require smaller, less aggressivemovement in play, with typical doll-based activities including tendingthe doll, such as through dressing or bathing, and role-playing withthe doll, reinforcing relationship priorities amongst girls (Runker andDuggan 1991).

Books were found to strongly favour males, although there is someevidence this pattern is decreasing. Chick, Heilman-Houser and Hunter(2002) found that “when the caregivers in the young toddler room readto the children, the main characters in the books were usually male”(52). Kortenhaus and Demarest (1993) also came to similar conclusionsin their study on the gender roles typically depicted in children’sliterature. While they found a greater equality in representation ofmale and female characters in recent years, the depictions of genderwere highly conforming to stereotypical gender roles. The vastmajority of books reviewed in the study represented male characters inpositions of leadership, problem-solving, and power. Girls were likelyto be represented as nurturers, helpless, and dependent (Kortenhaus andDemarest 1993). Evans (1998) similarly found that girls who did occupyleading roles in children’s stories typically “still required theassistance of males to solve some type of dilemma” (Evans 1998, 84).Evans cites a number of other studies that concluded “males were moreoften the powerful and active characters. Females, on the other hand,were described or depicted as sweet, weak, frightened, and needy. Theseresearchers argued that children’s literature may do a disservice tochildren if it does not accurately represent men and women and thedifferent roles they portray in our Society” (Evans 1998, 84).

Children are also often treated differently according to hegemonicgender expectations. Thorne (1993) found that boys in infant schoolconsistently received more attention than girls, even though thisattention was often associated with inappropriate or disruptivebehaviour. Boys typically exhibit a much higher activity level thangirls, and while a small proportion of this difference is shown to bebiological, most has been documented to be from gender conditioning inthe environment (Thorne 1993; Chick, Heilman-Houser and Hunter 2002).Infant boys received positive reinforcement for assertiveness,rowdiness, and rough play, whilst girls were negatively reinforced forsuch behaviours. Accordingly, girls were positively reinforced forhelpful or caretaking behaviour, passivity, and cooperation in theinfant environment, whilst boys were often asked if something was wrongwhen they displayed such behaviour (Chick, Heilman-Houser and Hunter2002). Boys were expected to be more active and therefore require moreattention, which researchers noted to be provided by caregivers.“Extra attention to boys was evident also in the infant room, wherethey were held and spoken to more frequently” (Chick, Heilman-Houserand Hunter 2002, 150). Infant girls were more likely to occpythemselves quietly and not demand consideration, and accordinglyreceived less attention (Chick, Heilman-Houser and Hunter 2002).
It can therefore be concluded that most children enter their primaryyears with a good amount of hegemonic gender reinforcement alreadyunder their belts. “The process of the socialization and formation ofsex roles begins long before school instruction begins: from birth on,parents treat boys and girls differently; they make different demandson them; children are given different toys to play with; they acquiredifferent kinds of experience, and so on” (Buzhigeeva 2004, 77). Bythe time they begin their primary years, boys’ and girls’ behavioursand self-concepts already include a number of gender-basedcharacteristics, from a wide variety of origins (Buzhigeeva 2004, 77).

By the time they enter the primary school years, children usually havebecome aware of culturally accepted gender norms in their society andhave at least partially negotiated their gender self-construct (Jacklinand Lacey 1997). At this point children typically prefer playing withthose of their own gender, reinforcing gender hegemony to which theyhave been previously exposed. This segregation by gender is morelikely in situations where there is little or no interference byadults, indicating it is the children’s preference (Maccoby 1988). Aschildren spend further time within gender-segregated groupings,traditional gender constructs are further reinforced, and the more timea child spends in same-sex contexts, the more likely he or she is toexhibit a strong pattern of gender differentiated behaviour (Maccoby1988).

It is not surprising, therefore, that the majority of childrenentering primary classes were reported by teachers to exhibittraditionally gendered behaviours. Those that did not were generallyrejected by teachers in some way, or encouraged to change to a moretraditional gendered behaviour (Reay 2001). For example, girls wereexpected to prefer collaborative work, working for a win-win outcome,and having a quiet, orderly working environment (Burgess 1990; Jackson2002). Teachers also expected girls entering primary school to bebetter adapted to learning activities, to more easily able tounderstand teacher’s directions and explanations, to organise their ownactivity very well, and to have in general a more positive attitudetowards school than boys (Buzhigeeva 2004, 81-82).

Teachers not only expect such behaviours from girls in their classes,but punish girls who do not conform to these expectations. Connolly(1998) reports that girls who behave in an assertive or disruptivemanner are more likely to be viewed negatively than boys exhibiting thesame behaviour. Reay (2001) desribes two such girls who refused totake traditional submissive gender roles in class. They espoused aphilosophy of “giving as good as they got” and “doing it forthemselves,” and were not hesitant to confront challenges by boys, evenphysically. While similar behaviour from boys in the class wasdescribed as “boys being boys,” from these two girls its was viewedinappropriate and actually counterproductive to learning. Reay furtherreports this type of activity, “which ran counter to traditional formsof femininity resulted in them being labelled at various times byteachers in the staffroom as ‘real bitches’, ‘a bad influence’ and‘little cows’” (Reay 2001, 160-161).
Frank et al (2003) found while refusal to participate was generallyaccepted in boys, it was frowned upon in girls and caused them to belabelled as uncooperative. “The implicit acceptance of the position of‘healthy idleness in boys,’ which affirms that no healthy boys everwork at a subject they dislike. ‘Healthy’ boys were and are seen asthose who do not necessarily take up the work of schooling, and,conversely,


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