Biological versus Feminists Perspectives on Girls' Underperformance in STEM Subjects in Pakistan
Keywords:Biological Essentialists, Feminists, Underperformance in Education, STEM, STEM Subjects
This article outlines the biological essentialists’ versus feminists’ explanations of girls’ underperformance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Historically, except in the contexts of some developed countries, boys dominated girls in STEM subjects. Biological essentialists associate girls’ underperformance in STEM with the innate differences between men and women, whereas feminists attribute it to social factors. The issue, however, is not so easily solved and there is an ongoing debate between biological essentialists and feminists. This article, thus, engages in a comparative analysis of the two approaches, their underlying principles and the empirical evidences they use to substantiate their stance. The analysis of both approaches enables the authors to better decipher the connection between gender and education performance. This article explains that social rather than biological factors influence girls’ performance in STEM subjects. The article concludes that girls’ underperformance in STEM subjects' results from sociocultural factors.
Acker, S. (1987). Feminist theory and the study of gender and education. International Review of Education, 33(4), 419-435.
Asante, K. O. (2010). Sex differences in mathematics performance among senior high students in Ghana. Gender and Behaviour, 8(2), 3279-3289.
Baker, D. P., & Jones, D. P. (1993). Creating gender equality: Cross-national gender stratification and mathematical performance. Sociology of Education, 91-103.
Blake, J. J., Butler, B. R., Lewis, C. W., & Darensbourg, A. (2011). Unmasking the inequitable discipline experiences of urban Black girls: Implications for urban educational stakeholders. The Urban Review, 43(1), 90-106.
Breiner, J. M., Harkness, S. S., Johnson, C. C., & Koehler, C. M. (2012). What is STEM? A discussion about conceptions of STEM in education and partnerships. School Science and Mathematics, 112(1), 3-11.
Brown, L. M., & Gilligan, C. (1993). Meeting at the crossroads: Women’s psychology and girls’ development. Feminism & Psychology, 3(1), 11-35.
Burke, R. J., & Mattis, M. C. (2007). Women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics: Upping the numbers. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Ceci, S. J., & Williams, W. M. (2011). Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(8), 3157-3162.
Clark Blickenstaff, J. (2005). Women and science careers: Leaky pipeline or gender filter? Gender and Education, 17(4), 369-386.
Cott, N. F. (1987). The grounding of modern feminism. Yale University Press.
Francis, B. (2002). Boys, girls and achievement: Addressing the classroom issues. Routledge.
Geiger, R. L., Rothblatt, S., Woodward, K., Moses, Y., Kleinman, D. L., Melin, C., Nowviskie, B., McGowan, J., Williams, J. J., & Newfield, C. (2015). A New Deal for the Humanities: Liberal Arts and the Future of Public Higher Education. Rutgers University Press.
Gonzalez, H. B., & Kuenzi, J. J. (2012). Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education: A primer.
Gould, M. (1977). Toward a sociological theory of gender and sex. The American Sociologist, 182-189.
Hedges, L. V., & Nowell, A. (1995). Sex differences in mental test scores, variability, and numbers of high-scoring individuals. Science, 269(5220), 41-45.
Hossain, T. (2017). ”One is Not Born, But Rather Becomes, A Woman”: Becoming Woman in Tahmima Anam’s Works [PhD Thesis]. East West University.
Hubbard, R. (1990). The politics of women’s biology. Rutgers University Press.
Kindlon, D. (2007). Alpha girls: Understanding the new American girl and how she is changing the world. Rodale Books.
Lai, F. (2010). Are boys left behind? The evolution of the gender achievement gap in Beijing’s middle schools. Economics of Education Review, 29(3), 383-399.
Machin, S., & McNally, S. (2005). Gender and student achievement in English schools. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 21(3), 357-372.
Macionis, J. J. (2009). Society: The basics. Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Millett, K. (2016). Sexual politics. Columbia University Press.
Mucee, J. N., Rechee, J., Bururia, D., & Gikunda, R. M. (2014). Socio-cultural factors that influence access to secondary school education in Tharaka South Sub-County, Kenya. International Journal of Education and Research, 2(10), 489-502.
Oakley, A. (2016). Sex, gender and society. Routledge.
Perez-Felkner, L., Nix, S., & Thomas, K. (2017). Gendered pathways: How mathematics ability beliefs shape secondary and postsecondary course and degree field choices. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 386.
Reeder, H. M. (1996). A critical look at gender difference in communication research. Communication Studies, 47(4), 318-330.
Roberts, C. (2000). Biological behaviour? Hormones, psychology, and sex. NWSA Journal, 1-20.
Sarseke, G. (2018). Under-Representation of women in science: From educational, feminist and scientific views. NASPA Journal About Women in Higher Education, 11(1), 89-101.
Seller, M. S. (1983). Dr. Clarke vs. the" Ladies": Coeducation and Women’s Roles in the 1870’s.
Sinnes, A. (2006). Approaches to gender equity in science education: Three alternatives and two examples. African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 10(1), 1-12.
Thomas, S. P., & Smith, H. (2004). School connectedness, anger behaviours, and relationships of violent and nonviolent American youth. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 40(4), 135-148.
Ullah, Hazir (2018). Ideologies & Power in the Textbooks: Reproduction of Gender and Class Hierarchies. Islamabad: IRD Press
Ullah, H. (2013). Reproduction of Class and Gender Hierarchies through Education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (PhD Thesis). University of Peshawar, Pakistan.
Ullah, R., & Ullah, H. (n.d.). Boys versus girls’ educational performance: Empirical evidences from global north and global south.
Ullah, R., & Ullah, H. (2019). Boys versus Girls’ Educational Performance: Empirical Evidences from Global North and Global South. African Educational Research Journal, 7(4), 163-167.
Ullah, R., Ullah, H., & Allender, T. (2019). Girls Underperforming in Science: Evidences from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Journal of Elementary Education, 29(2), 1-14.
Ullah, R., Ullah, H., Sevari, K., Rezaei, M., Ndegwa, A., Gutiérrez-Colón, M., Chirume, S., Thondhlana, S., & Kasap, S. (2019). Boys versus girls’ educational performance: Empirical evidences from global north and global south. African Educational Research Journal, 7(10), 20–25.
Wang, M. T., & Degol, J. L. (2017). Gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM): Current knowledge, implications for practice, policy, and future directions. Educational Psychology Review, 29(1), 119-140.
Williams, J., Greene, S., Doyle, E., Harris, E., Layte, R., McCoy, S., McCrory, C., Murray, A., Nixon, E., & O’Dowd, T. (2009). Growing up in Ireland national longitudinal study of children. The lives of 9 year olds.
Wilson, N. J., Shuttleworth, R., Stancliffe, R., & Parmenter, T. (2012). Masculinity theory in applied research with men and boys with intellectual disability. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 50(3), 261-272.
Xie, Y., Fang, M., & Shauman, K. (2015). STEM education. Annual Review of Sociology, 41, 331-357.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 Raza Ullah, Hazir Ullah, Muhammad Bilal
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Articles in LASSIJ are Open Access contents published under the Creative Commons CC BY-NC License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License http://