Teachers' selections of boys and girls as prominent pupils

Shoshanna BenTsvi-Mayer, Rachel Hertz-Lazarowitz, Marilyn P. Safir

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Over 300 teachers and student-teachers were asked to nominate their most noticeable pupils regarding ability, achievement, behavior, and teacher's preoccupation with them, as defined in eight eminently school-relevant categories. Frequencies of male and female names recorded were employed as measures of teachers' perception of saliency of the two sexes. Respondents recalled significantly more boys as prominent in most categories. More boys than girls were perceived as the best students in general and in mathematics in particular, and as possessing high potential. More boys than girls occupied the minds of these teachers after school. Boys appeared to cause the overwhelming majority of discipline problems. On the other hand, more girls were considered very successful in Hebrew and in social skills. Boys received more nominations in each of their five categories of salience then did girls in any of their two categories of salience. No difference was found between sex-related nominations of experienced teachers and student-teachers. Findings indicate that both teachers and future teachers of the elementary grades perceive boys as the majority of salient students. Moreover, the directions of most sex differences found are stereotypical. Such perceptions, unsupported by objective psychometric evidence, may impede sex equity in school practice, and particularly deprive girls of opportunities of full personal development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)231-246
    Number of pages16
    JournalSex Roles
    Issue number3-4
    StatePublished - Aug 1989

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Gender Studies
    • Social Psychology
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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