Gender Differences in Students' Academic Performance
Students with urban and suburban backgrounds consistently outperformed students from rural and small-town areas. Parental education levels correlated with academic success. Considering the background of the study's female participants one could reasonably expect women to outperform men. However, in spite of the higher indicators of success possessed by women, this expectation was not fulfilled. Data and background predictions did not match up with what actually occurred. Men received better grades, retained more of their self-confidence, and more men stayed in chemical engineering than women. When students run into math difficulties, men are more likely to credit math difficulties to challenges inherent in the subject, while women are more likely to explain away failure by lack of ability. This is the first of many discrepancies in men and women's perception of their own performance. Regarding general academic performance, women are more likely to attribute it to lack of ability while men more often attribute it to lack of hard work or unfair treatment. If students do well, women will more likely chalk it up to outside help while men see it as a reinforcement of their own ability. Regarding course performance, women were asked to indicate what grade would satisfy them and what grade they actually expected to receive in a course. The women's expectations decreased as the term progressed; they downrated their ability and ended up underestimating themselves. Courses involving group work were included in this study. Although group work was found to be generally positive and well-received by students, the findings inspired the authors to caution educators about potential reactions of students to group work. Men were more likely to feel they did more than their fair share of work. Women were more likely to feel as though their contributions were undervalued or ignored. Men enjoyed the challenge of explaining...
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