By G. J. Ramstedt
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In addition, there is some tentative evidence to suggest that boys are more competitive and, during the pre-school years at least, more active than girls are, particularly when in the presence of other boys. When playing in single-sex groups it is claimed that boys tend to make more ‘dominance attempts’ than girls do, and more often try to dominate adults. Conversely, Gender and its impact 23 some research suggests that, compared with boys, girls are more timid, anxious and compliant to the demands and directions of adults – although not to the demands of their male and female peers.
Renold notes that one way of responding to this difficulty was for boys to assert their heterosexuality through misogyny and homophobia. Mucking around As I noted in Chapter 1, having a laugh and adopting a negative attitude towards school and school-work are part of the culture of laddish behaviour. Epstein (1998: 98) maintains that her research supported the view that one of the dominant notions of (hegemonic) masculinity in many schools was the avoidance of academic work, or at least the avoidance of the appearance of working.
But, she notes, the differences are most noticeable at the extreme ends of the ability distribution: for example, males predominate at the lower end of the verbal abilities scale and at the higher end of the mathematical abilities scale. 3 It appears, therefore, that much of the research cited relating to biological origins of gender differences is tentative and inconsistent. As Connell (1995) notes, any differences ‘are small compared to variation within either sex, and very small compared to differences in the social positioning of men and women’ (Connell 1995: 47).