Are females more helpless than males: an observational and attributional analysis in Maths and English : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University

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Massey University
The present study investigated the under-achievement and participation of females in mathematical areas within the context of the attribution theory. Gender differences for causal attributions and achievement-related beliefs were investigated in Maths and English, employing a methodology which allowed for the subjective construction of the situation by the student. Subjects were 97 form five Maths and English students (50 males and 47 females). Overall, there were no consistent gender differences in attributions for success and failure in Maths and English. Although males perceived themselves as more competent in Maths, there were no gender differences in achievement-related beliefs. However, females displayed more mastery-oriented cognitions in English . Additionally, the relationship of gender and teacher-student interactions in Maths and English classrooms were investigated, in an attempt to conceptualise the role they have in sustaining gender related behaviours. It was hypothesized that males and females were being treated differently in Maths and English, which in some way affects their attributions for achievement outcomes, and subsequent achievement­ related beliefs. Four classrooms (two Maths and two English) were observed for five hours each. Contrary to predictions, there were few significant differences in the contingencies of evaluative feedback given to students, with respect to its frequency, its typical referents, and the specificity of its use. The results were discussed in terms of their relationship to other studies, and the implications for past and future methods of studying students' causal attributions in mathematical and verbal achievement situations. Alternative mechanisms by which females self-derogating beliefs might inhibit their participation and achievement in maths-related areas were also considered.
Women -- Education, Educational equalization, Mathematics -- Study and teaching, Sex differences in education