լƵAPP

The Preschool & Elementary Years

From the time they start school, children encounter implicit gender bias about their abilities.

By preschool, most children start identifying gender roles. Teachers and consciously or unconsciously convey social cues that of — which in turn contributes to the development of further skills in those areas. For instance, girls are more likely to be encouraged to engage in dramatic play and art, while boys are steered toward task-oriented play and big motor functions like building.

Many even have “boy/girl”-based processes, such as dividing teams by gender and reinforcing distinctions by referring to “boys and girls” instead of gender-neutral terms like “students” or “children.” Research has found that students in such classrooms end up with higher levels of gender stereotyping.

  • In their early education, girls are often socialized in ways that support “good” behavior — and research shows that generally mature faster, which affects behaviors such as self-regulation, sitting still, following directions and paying attention for prolonged periods.
  • are often expected to “be behind” and .” found boys from higher-income families are about 3% less prepared to enter school than their sisters, while boys from lower-income families more than 8% less prepared.
  • Preschool-age boys have also been found to be more impacted by adverse experiences — and that low-quality early education can have a significant . And boy preschoolers are three times as likely to be suspended than girls.
Behavior and Expectation Biases

Girls are generally expected to be more “school appropriate,” “,” compliant, care-taking and polite. As a result, girls are often held to higher performance standards, even starting in early education.

  • are more often versus outcomes — which can discourage confidence and encourage perfectionism.
  • , girls are more likely to label boys as “really, really smart” and steer away from games or activities they view as intended for the “really, really smart.” This belief is not evident at age 5.
  • Boys are often considered more “innately” smart and to be confident, which can actually discourage them from putting forth effort and result in boys being judged for working hard.
  • Boys are more often pressured to be tough, physical and athletic. They receive messages that “boys will be boys” by pushing behavior boundaries and roughhousing. the notion that it is not “masculine” for boys to try hard or do well in school.
  • Boys are expected to “catch up” as they mature, although it is often only higher-income students who have enough support to do so. For a disproportionate number of boys of color and boys from lower-income areas, early gaps over time. Boys to underachieve when they attend schools, especially if they are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Gender and the Reading Gap

By third grade, boys by a half of a grade level; by grade 8, that rises to a full grade level. The gap, however, is  from higher-income families. Studies suggest that the reading , but related to maturity, behavior, socialization and higher academic expectations in younger grades than in the past.

  • A number of researchers think for teaching and assessing reading skills contributes to tracking  in ways that are likely to hinder boys, . This creates gaps that continue to widen as students progress through school.
  • Studies suggest that the reading is , but related to maturity, behavior, socialization and higher academic expectations in younger grades than in the past.

A high level of reading skills in  signals strong academic performance and attainment in the years ahead. This is reinforced by a  in most U.S. schools of “learning to read” before “reading to learn.” Some  raise concerns that valuing functional reading skills above knowledge and context disadvantages students from lower-income families and students of color and contributes to achievement gaps. Strong reading and language arts are important for developing many “employability” skills for higher-tracked future jobs, including communications, collaboration, problem-solving, analysis and creativity.

  • Overall, reading scores in the United States are low. One in three U.S. students is reading below grade level when they’re tested in fourth grade. of fourth, eighth- and twelfth-grade students do not achieve proficient levels in reading.