Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 4/4.5.2

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Learning Targets[edit]

  • The reader will understand how teachers show gender bias.
  • The reader will understand what some of the differences in boys and girls are both emotionally and physically.
  • The reader will know what children think when they succeed.


Gender can be defined as the classification of sex. The classification of sex has two divisions a person is either male or female. In the American Heritage Dictionary under sex it states that males or females can be distinguished by their physiological, functional, and psychological differences. The idea that men and women have more differences than their physical appearance has been debated for centuries. Women tend to be labeled as nurturers while men are expected to be strong and tough. This labeling of the sexes called stereotyping is when a person gathers a fixed idea of how a female or male should act.

Stereotyping Gender[edit]

When you think of a girl what image is formulated in your mind? Now, think about a boy what image comes to mind? How would you describe the differences in the images that you formulated? Everyone seems to stereotypes people into gender groups. Teachers seem to expect boys to be more unruly and less involved in their course work. This act of how a boy should behave versus how a girl should behave is considered gender stereotyping. Some educators believe that separating girls and boys can be beneficial (Sadker, 2005 p. 19-20).


Assumption all girls are quiet, hard-working, and good at writing. Assumption all boys are competitive, assertive, and good at math and science (Gray, 2006 p. 654).

Separating Genders in Education[edit]

The No Child Left Behind Act has brought up the issue of single sex education in public schools. Single sex schools can be a desirable alternative to regular schools and they are being offered by an increasing number of school systems (Cable, 2008 p. 1). Leonard Sax maintains that a female brain remains more mature than a male brain up to the age of 30. Sax finds that boys and girls brains are wired and develop differently. He also found that girls have more sensitive hearing. Sax found that females and males respond to stress differently. He suggests that girls do better in non-competitive communal classrooms while boys do better in competitive classrooms. Leonard Sax believes that traditional classrooms cannot be gender neutral. Sax thinks teachers cannot help but stereotype their students, which creates bias in the classroom (Cable, 2008 p. 4). People who are in favor of single sex education use Saxs analysis of gender to help support their argument. Protesters of single sex schools argue that these schools promote segregation by separating boys from girls. Differences in family income and family education background are more influential in a childs achievements than gender. Tracking in single sex schools is done by gender rather than ability (Cable, 2008 p. 6).

Gender and the hearing difference[edit]

Did you know that there are gender-hearing differences? Studies done on babies have shown that a newborn baby girls hearing is substantially more sensitive than that of a newborn boy. This difference was more noticeable in the 1,000 – 4,000 Hz range, which is the range, that speech distinction takes place in. This difference has been proven to get bigger as children get older (Sax, 2006 p. 17). Psychologist Colin Elliot studied eleven-year-old girls and found that they were distracted by noise levels, which were ten times softer than the levels, which distracted boys the same age. Girls dont learn as well as boys in a loud environment (Sax, 2006 p. 18). Boys cant hear as well as girls, therefore if a teacher is soft spoken boys will be less attentive in her class. Some boys with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) could be diagnosed wrong simply because their actions are due to their hearing deficit. In some cases this can be solved simply by moving the boys to the front of the room (Sax, 2006 p. 5). The fact there is a hearing difference between males and female students is not taught in most schools. Experienced teachers usually figure this out after five or ten years. One veteran teacher told Leonard Sax, M.D. Ph.D. author of Why Gender Matters that she puts the boys in the front of the class and the girls in the back of her class. This is usually opposite of the positions in the classroom that boys and girls pick on their own (Sax, 2006 p. 88).


Eye Sight
Color Choices

Eye sight differences in gender[edit]

A study done on 102 babies by Researchers at Cambridge University suggest that girls at birth are more interested with facial expressions while boys were more intrigued with moving objects. This can be attributed to the sex difference in the eye (Sax, 2006 p. 19). Boys have a thicker retina than girls and the pathway from the retina to the cerebral cortex in both sexes is different (Sax, 2006 p. 21-22). If crayons are given to both boys and girls you will notice a difference in the colors they choose. Girls tend to pick red, orange, green, and beige because these are the colors their eyes are more sensitive to. Boys tend to pick black, gray, silver, and blue because these are the colors their eyes are pre-wired to (Sax, 2006 p. 23-24).

Example of Teacher miscue[edit]

Lets look at a kindergarten teacher who has just given her students plain paper and crayons to create a drawing. She walks around encouraging students and making comments on their pictures. She stops at a girls desk and notices all the beautiful colors and tells the child Beautiful work. When she gets to one of the boys in her room she notices his picture is all in black crayon. She asked him questions about his picture and the boy says, Its a rocket about to smash into the earth. The teacher tells the boy his picture is nice but then states how about adding some color and people in the rocket. Kids are good at figuring out what teachers want them to do. Sax thinks this boy understands that his picture doesnt please his teacher like the girls picture with all the colors and people in it. Teachers have been taught to encourage students; however, they havent been taught how boys see different and are drawn to different colors than girls (Sax, 2006 p. 23). This teacher meant no harm; however, she didnt understand the difference in the way boys and girls see and do things. Had she known that boys are drawn to colors like black, blue, gray and silver, she would have understood why his picture was only drawn in black. She would have appreciated his work more for his artist ability rather than addressing its lack of color.


Boys and girls have differing opinions on their successes and failures. When a boy fails at a task he is likely to think he didnt try hard enough or it was bad luck. When a girl fails at a task she is likely to think it was due to her inability to do the task. When girls succeed at a task they attribute their success to good luck. When a boy succeeds at a task he will likely attribute his success to intelligence (Sadker, 2005 p. 21). Girls believe that if they are considered smart or if they like boy subjects like math and science that they will become unpopular. Boys seem to stay away from girl subjects like art, music, and reading (Sadker, 2005 p 21).

Teacher Bias[edit]

There are noticeable differences in male and female teachers. Male teachers are more assertive and direct. Female teachers are more nurturing and less dominant in the classroom(Gool, 2008 p. 27). Male teachers prefer lecturing and show their dominance while female teachers guide students and provide cooperative learning experiences. Teachers generally interact with male students more than their female students. Boys are not fussed at for calling out an answer, while girls are told to remember the rules. Teacher call on boys more often than girls but they wait longer for boys to answer the question than girls. Teachers tend to assist girls more with answers rather than encouraging them to find the answer on their own (Gool, 2008 p. 27).


Teachers need to learn and understand about gender differences in students while being cautious about stereotyping. I believe teachers should be taught more about how to teach boys versus girls while maintaining an unbiased classroom. This will be hard; however, I think once a teacher masters this skill her students will learn better and behave while in the classroom. Knowing that boys may act out because they cant hear a soft spoken person or girls and boys eyes are hard wired differently can be beneficial to teachers. This awareness can help a teacher better understand her students.

What did you learn?[edit]

Use your analysis of the data given and answer the following questions:

1.According to Sax which of the following does he find physical reason that affect the way boys learn versus the way girls learn information.

a. Differences in physical strength

b. Differences in mental capabilities

c. Differences in hearing and visual perception

d. Differences in environmental factors

2.Gender can be defined as:

a. The classification of sex

b. The differences in appearance of females and males

c. The difference in mental capabilities of males and females

d. The classification of a species

3.If you were a teacher in a classroom, and one of the boys in the class was acting out and not paying attention on a regular bases. What would you try to do first?

a. Send him to principle to evaluated or reprimanded

b. Ask your principle to send him for a physiological evaluation

c. Move him to the corner of the room so he will not disturb the rest of the class

d. Move him to the front of the class

4.Rules in your classroom in raise your hand and wait to be called on before you yell out an answer. You ask a question to the whole class. One young man raises his hand and tells you the answer. You tell him he is correct and move on. What does this illustrate?

a. Good class instruction

b. Allowing boys to always answer

c. Stereotyping

d. That boys know more than girls


  1. c
  2. a
  3. d
  4. a


Cable, K. E., & Spradlin, T. E. (2008 Fall). Single-sex education in the 21st century. Education Policy Brief, 6(9), 1-12. Retrieved from

Gool, J. A., Carpenter, J., Davis, S., Ligos, T., MacKenzie, L., Schilp, R., et al. (2008). Teacher bias of gender in the elementary classroom. Education Today, (5), 27-30. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

Gray, J., & McLellan, R. (2006). A matter of attitude? Developing a profile of boys' and girls' responses to primary schooling. Gender & Education, 18(6), 651-672. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Sadker, D., & Zittleman, K. (2005, January 1). Closing the gender gap—Again! Just when educators thought it was no longer an issue, gender bias is back in a new context. Principal, 84(4), 18-22. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ693978) Retrieved February 6, 2009, from ERIC database.

Sax, L. (2006). Why gender matters. New York: Broadway Books, p 18-88.

sex. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved February 7, 2009, from website:

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