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Article: Boys Speak Up, Girls Silenced in the Classroom

Newswise—Boys talk nine times more than girls in the classroom—and are encouraged to do so—according to findings from a new language dynamics study. Subtlety enforcing male significance early in life may help explain why women aren’t often found in positions of authority and significance in their workplace, says Allyson Jule, study principal and Trinity Western University professor.

In her book, Gender, Participation, and Silence in the Language Classroom: Sh-Shushing the Girls, Jule publishes a ten-month case study of a group of grade 2, ethnic-minority children growing up in Canada, and explores the relationship of gender, ethnicity and participation within an English-language teaching classroom.

In the classroom, the boys were given tiny, almost imperceptible signals of significance over the girls. The teacher usually referred to the boys by name but the girls in groups. For instance, “Peter, be quiet,” and “girls, shhh.”

Often the teacher would repeat a comment by a boy, or a boy-tempered question, for the class; but if a girl answered she wouldn’t repeat it.


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