Reading is one of main ways to get information. What is the relationship between gender and reading comprehension? Reading success depends on factors such as the levels of readers' proficiency, types of text, text difficulty, and task demands (Brudice, 2009). One important factor that affects the process of reading and consequently the process of comprehension is the reader text variable. Considering the text variable, different studies have been conducted to investigate the way readers affect the processes of reading and comprehension. The strategies used by readers, their background knowledge, motivation, attitude, age, personality and sex all have been investigated (Keshavarz. & Ashtarian, 2008).
This paper aims to investigate how gender differences influence reading comprehension.
Statement of Problem
In this paper the presented problem was to identify whether or not gender differences had an effect on reading comprehension ability. As a question, the problem is, "What is the relationship between gender and reading comprehension ability for secondary students?" (Brudice, 2009)
Definition of Terms
Gender Differences: Gender: the state of being male or female (with reference to social or cultural differences)
Reading Comprehension can be defined as techniques for improving students' success in obtaining useful knowledge from text. Reading comprehension is understanding some texts that are read, or the process of "constructing meaning" from read texts. Comprehension is a "construction process" because it includes all of the elements of the reading process working together as a text is read to create a representation of the text in the reader's mind (Brudice, 2009).
Reading comprehension is a complex cognitive skill in which the reader should construct meaning by using all the available resources from both the text and background knowledge (Brudice, 2009). Several studies, which have investigated some independent variables that are linked to students' abilities to comprehend science textbooks, have conflicting findings. While some found important differences in boys' and girls' verbal abilities in favor of girls, some others did not find gender differences in their subjects' abilities to comprehend two biology texts (Soybio; McKenzie-Briscoe, 1998).
The findings of a 2008 study indicate that there is a difference between malesââ‚¬â„¢ and femalesââ‚¬â„¢ comprehension of the reading passages. Females are better in case of comprehending passages. Females are outstandingly superior in reading skills, and the proportion of men going to reading classes as a remedy, is higher than males. Females outperformed males in their comprehension of given passages in a written recall task (Keshavarz. & Ashtarian, 2008).
Why do girls have higher reading ability?
Boys have more often their own room in comparison to girls. This may take time from reading and contribute to lower scores.
Girls have a little bit more often their own study desk that may contribute to their higher reading test results. Although boys have a little bit more books at home, they are not so good in reading.
According to the evaluation of girls, there is more classic literature and poetry in their homes. Children influence the home culture and so this literature is bought more often for girls.
More girls are from homes without a computer. Working on computers may reduce the boysââ‚¬â„¢ time for reading books and magazines.
More girls are confident that they are doing well in language. The self-evaluation supports learning language and is a result of good learning. There are more boys among students who have fewer than 2 hours for self-study of language. Once more girls devote more time to language studies and boys have other interests (Lynn & Mikk, 2009).
And for second language in general, it seems that no gender differences existed on TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) in any of the subtests (Jie & Wu, 2003). In light of new issues about second language reading perhaps more inquiries about second language reading comprehension should be concerned with the amounts and types of variables that are superior, or more influential, in producing higher levels of reading comprehension because as a whole it is very different from first language (Brantmeier, 2004).
A meta-analysis provides strong evidence that the significance of the gender difference in verbal ability is currently so small that it can effectively be considered to be zero. More detailed analysis of various types of verbal ability (e.g., vocabulary, reading comprehension, analogies) similarly provided no evidence of a substantial gender difference (Hayde & Linn, 1988). But as the results of this study indicate, females are somehow superior in reading comprehension compared to male subjects (Keshavarz. & Ashtarian, 2008) and females are more global and prefer to guess meaning from context while males are more analytic and attend more to words (Brudice, 2009). This suggests that teachers should take into consideration the fact that more practice needs to be done when working with male students. Another consequence of the study can be drawn from the finding that both male and female students had greater gains on essay regardless of their gender. This may imply that teachers can focus on teaching different types of texts in their classes regardless of their studentsââ‚¬â„¢ gender. This may help learners to pave the way toward autonomy in that they can build on what they already know or what they have explicitly learned in their classrooms (Keshavarz. & Ashtarian, 2008). So teachers should be aware of these differences; they can help learners of both genders in different ways. By concentrating on learners' limitations, teachers can provide successful learning situations. Only in this way can teachers handle the class efficiently and achieve the teaching goals.
Strategy training can be done through working with students in small groups or individually by using various reading texts and questions to check students' processing problems through questioning and answering. Teaching learners comprehension monitoring and reading comprehension test taking strategies can help them to take a more reflective and self-directed approach to text reading. Additionally, it can help learners in reducing anxiety in reading tests (Brudice, 2009).