Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the Claim That Gender Differences in Educational Achievement Are Primarily the 'Result of Changes in Society'

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the claim that gender differences in educational achievement are primarily the 'result of changes in society'

Some sociologists claim that gender differences in achievement are the result of external factors such as changes in wider society, e.g. The impact of feminist ideas and changing employment opportunities (as stated in Item A). However, this could also be an outcome of internal factors such as the education system becoming 'feminised', which could have impacted the performance of girls achievement, as it has risen at a faster rate at some levels and in some subjects. Some sociologists also argue that the media have exaggerated the extent and nature of any problem.

External factors such as the impact of feminism and girls' changing ambitions could have a large influence on gender differences in educational achievement. Since the 1960's, feminism has challenged the traditional stereotypes of a woman's role as mother and housewife within a patriarchal family. Feminism has also raises girls' expectations and ambitions with regard to careers and family. These changes are partly reflected in media images and messages. A good illustration of this is McRobbie's comparison of girls magazine in the 1970's, where they stressed the importance of marriage to the 1990's, where it was more focused on career and independence. Changes in the family and employment are also producing changes in girls' ambitions. This is supported by Sue Sharpe's research where she compared the results of interviews she carried out with girls in the 1970's and girls in the 1990's. In the 1970's the girls had low aspirations and gave their priorities as love, marriage, husbands and children before careers. However, in the 1990's girls were more likely to see their future as independent women with a career, rather than being dependent on a husband and his income.

There have been a number of major changed to the family in the last 30...
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