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Gender Differences in Perceptions of School Life and Self-Concept

Considerations for Addressing Gender in Secondary School Settings

Victoria Clay

Keywords: boys’ education; gender in education; self-concept; student perceptions of school

It has long been argued that gender considerations are an important factor in educational outcomes for students. The impact of social and of cultural beliefs concerning the value of education has often been implicated in gender differences in outcomes of schooling. While social constructions of masculinity warrant scrutiny both in society in general and in education, a focus on the social determinants of behaviour and attitudes does not always allow for full consideration of individual factors, such as affective or social-emotional determinants of responses to situations. This paper discusses the findings of a qualitative study of student perceptions of quality of school life and of student self-concept that was conducted in six different Australian schools. The findings of this study show that as well as gender differences, there were differences related to the school location, the socio-economic group the students belonged to, and the age of the student. These findings point towards the need to investigate gender in schools using an ecological model of gendered perceptions of school life that can take account of both individual and environmental factors.

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