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  • Teacher responses to: “Do you find that the boys in your class like reading?”None of the teachers found that boys liked reading, and two teachers said that boys only liked reading particular male-oriented texts.
  • It seemed that the underlying assumption was that girls already liked to read, and thus needed less special teacher attention – they already like reading, and thus are more willing to try new texts.
  • Student Responses to “Which kind of book is more appealing to you?”
  • Presumably, girls already like reading, so teachers focus energy on the boys.
  • Typically, masculine males do not read. These texts only remind students that if they are to be “proper” males, they will be violent and independent. Reading = passive; passive = feminine.
  • Classroom Teachers should provide choices whenever possible so that students won’t feel as though they’re being “forced” to read a text. Teachers should try to discourage reading along gender boundaries – reading is a human activity, and it is essential to doing well in school. Teachers can help most by introducing and engaging students effectively – the text isn’t going to sell itself.


  • 1. Recognizing the Hidden Curriculum of Gender RolesThe Relationship Between Reading and Gender 
    A Master’s Research Project by
    Catherine HollandSt. Mary’s College of Maryland
  • 2. Introduction
    Schools: tools for socialization
    Stated curriculum vs. “hidden curriculum” (Giroux, 1988)
    Reinforcing traditional gender roles
  • 3. The Problem
    Researchers report gender inequalities
    On standardized tests (Lietz, 2006; Marks, 2008)
    Increasing over time (Klecker, 2006)
    Influencing educational policies (Martino & Kehler 2007)
  • 4. The Problem
    Gender Similarities Hypothesis (Hyde, 2005)
    Gender isn’t a predictor of causal thinking abilities (Berkant, 2009)
    Gender isn’t related to preferred learning style (Younger & Warrington, 2005 as cited in Watson, Kehler, & Martino, 2010)
  • 5. The Problem
    Differences between genders are socially created, not biologically innate.
  • 6. Research Questions
    Do boys consider reading to be a gendered activity? Do girls?
    Is it primarily teachers or their students who replicate and encourage these gender-specific behaviors and opinions?
  • 7. Population
    AP English Literature students; grade 12
    English teachers
    Public high school in Southern Maryland
  • 8. Methods
    Affective survey
    Open-ended question
    Book descriptions
    Student interviews
    Teacher interviews
  • 9. Findings
    *p < .05
  • 10. Findings
  • 11. Findings
    “Depends on the text. A lot of the stories that we’re doing are not geared toward young men…They’re definitely reluctant.”
    “No. They’re a harder sell.”
    “Um, if it’s about things that they like
    to read about. We did The Contender
    and it was about boy-things, they don’t like to read about love stories. It has a little bit of boy violence or things that they could relate to.”
  • 12. Findings
    Teacher responses to: “Do you find that the girls in your class like reading?”
    All four responded yes:
    Compared to boys in the class
    More obedient
  • 13. Findings
    “Not a particular genre, but I like really descriptive books. I’m trying to think of particular books…realistic that I could see happening somewhere to someone real.”
    “Love stories.”
    “Fiction novels in general. No specific genre.”
    “Favorite genre – anything that twists reality. Anything that messes with your perception and then gives you a shock. Thriller is too broad. You could go with a thriller but that’s too broad.”
    “Anything funny”
  • 14. Implications
    Teachers are noticing reluctant male readers
    They are more resistant
    Underlying assumption that males don’t like reading
    Adjust text choice to appeal to males
    Girls may not like the texts they read in class, but they are more willing to try new ones
  • 15. Conclusions
    Teachers choose “boy-friendly” texts, focus attention on males, but they still don’t like reading
    These texts describe “masculine” males
    Make males even more resistant to reading
    Based on the interviews, students’ text preferences are idiosyncratic.
    Yet students tend to choose texts with same-sex protagonists
  • 16. Recommendations
    Provide text choices whenever possible
    Encourage students to cross gender-boundaries in reading; reading is a human activity
  • 17. References
    Berkant, H. G. (2009). An investigation of students' meaningful causal thinking abilities in terms of academic achievement, reading comprehension and gender. Educational Sciences:Theoryand Practice, 9(3), 1149-1165.
    Giroux, H. A. (1988). Teachers as Intellectuals: Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Learning. Bergin & Garvey Paperback.
    Hyde, J. S. (2005). The gender similarities hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60(6), 581-592.
    Klecker, B. M. (2006). The gender gap in NAEP fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade reading scores across years. Reading Improvement, 43(1), 50-56.
    Lietz, P. (2006). Issues in the change in gender differences in reading achievement in crossnational research studies since 1992: a meta-analytic view. International Education Journal, 7(2), 127-149.
    Marks, G. N. (2008). Accounting for the gender gaps in student performance in reading and mathematics: evidence from 31 countries. Oxford Review of Education, 34(1), 89-109.
    Martino, W., & Kehler, M. (2007). Gender-based literacy reform: a question of challenging or recuperating gender binaries. Canadian Journal of Education, 30(2), 406-431.
    Watson, A., Kehler, M., & Martino, W. (2010). The problem of boys' literacy underachievement: raising some questions. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(5), 356-361.
  • 18. Questions?