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Education and Gender

3. Gender Socialisation and Attainment

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In this module, we think about an alternative explanation for the attainment gap – that gender socialisation better prepares girls for school than boys. We focus on: (i) some issues with socialisation theory as a way of explaining behaviour, particularly that it is overly deterministic; (ii) the role of education in shaping and reinforcing gender identities; (iii) arguments around the impacts of gender socialisation in producing different levels of engagement with education between boys and girls, notably Paul Willis’ work on working class masculine anti-school subcultures.


In this course, Dr Sam Shields (Newcastle University) explores the ways in which gender shapes educational experiences and attainment. In the first module, we think about how gender has influenced patterns of schooling historically, with a particular focus on girls’ education in Britain. The second and third modules consider the gender attainment gap which has emerged in recent decades, whereby girls perform better than boys in most subjects, and two key explanations for this – “feminisation” arguments and gender socialisation. In the fourth module, we look at gendered patterns of subject choice, before turning in the final module to think about how gender differences might be shaped and reinforced within schools by the hidden curriculum.


Dr Sam Shields is Lecturer in Education at Newcastle University. She has written on a number of topics within education studies, focusing especially on gendered experiences of education and research methods in educational settings. Her publications include Working Class Female Students’ Experiences of Higher Education: Identities, Choices and Emotions (2021) and Research and Education (2015, co-author).

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Shields, S. (2021, December 06). Education and Gender - Gender Socialisation and Attainment [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Shields, S. "Education and Gender – Gender Socialisation and Attainment." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 06 Dec 2021,

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