Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
 
IMPROVING BOYS’ AND GIRLS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT


Summary

 

Over the last 15 years, it has become apparent that girls do better than boys at school, not only in Québec but in most of the developed world. The difference in boys’ and girls’ academic achievement only came to light as mixed schools became the general rule. As new cohorts of girls and boys went through the education system in the same schools and classrooms, it became clear that gender is, in its own right, a significant variable, beyond the central influence of socioeconomic background on a student’s progress in school. Given the same social origins, girls do better than boys at all levels of education. This phenomenon is even more obvious among students from a socioeconomically disadvantaged background. However, one should guard against creating rigid dichotomies. Some boys do very well in school and some girls experience difficulties.

Background

At the elementary level, boys’ academic difficulties as compared with girls’ manifest themselves mainly in three ways: in difficulties in learning the language of instruction (reading and writing); in academic delay; and in the greater number identified as having learning or adjustment difficulties.

Overall, there is no substantial difference between boys’ and girls’ achievement in the various school subjects, with the exception of the language of instruction (reading and writing), in which girls do significantly better than boys. The difference between boys and girls in reading achievement is not exclusive to Québec but has also been found, to varying degrees, in the countries included in the samples for major international studies. As for writing achievement, students’ results on the compulsory examination administered in the sixth year of elementary school in Québec in 1995 show that 57% of girls attained adequate or higher levels, compared with 38% of boys. Conversely, 21% of girls and 33% of boys showed inadequate writing skills.

Also, proportionally more boys than girls experience academic delay. Even if grade repeating accounts for most academic delay, the concept of  "academic delay" offers the advantage of taking into account the delay accumulated over a period of time, while data on grade repeating only reflect the number of students who have fallen behind in a single year. In 1997-98, 25.3% of boys experienced academic delay by the end of elementary school, compared with 17.3% of girls. This difference is not a recent phenomenon, and has, in fact, remained fairly constant over the last 35 years.

Similarly, among students between age 6 and age 11 identified as having learning or adjustment difficulties as at September 30, 1997, there were approximately two boys for every girl. In particular, the figures for behavioural difficulties show a ratio of 5.5 boys for every girl.

The difficulties observed at the elementary level generally remain the same at the secondary level, except that they follow a cumulative logic. In other words, the gap between boys and girls grows slightly wider from one grade level to the next. Moreover, at the secondary level, there is the additional phenomenon of early school leaving, which, again, is more prevalent among boys than girls.

As regards the language of instruction, students’ results on the assessments administered in 1998 as part of the School Achievement Indicators Program (SAIP), a Canada-wide study, show that girls’ advantage over boys tends to increase between the ages of 13 and 16 at the higher achievement levels in both reading and writing, particularly in reading. In comparison, at these ages, slightly more boys than girls reached the higher achievement levels on the SAIP science and mathematics assessments held in 1996 and 1997.

The difference observed at the end of elementary school between boys and girls where academic delay is concerned is also greater at the end of secondary school. In the 1997-98 school year, 40% of boys at the secondary level had fallen behind, compared with 27% of girls. In addition, while there were practically twice as many students in the 12-16 age group who had learning or adjustment difficulties than students in the 6-11 age group, the ratio of boys to girls was still 2 to 1. However, the ratio of boys to girls with behavioural difficulties as at September 30, 1997, was 4.2 to 1.

The data on academic delay and learning or adjustment difficulties are consistent with the graduation rates. In 1997-98, 41.3% of boys in the youth sector left secondary school without a diploma as compared to 26.0% of girls. These figures inevitably have an impact on the postsecondary levels of education. In the fall of 1997, women accounted for 55% of students admitted to college programs and 56% of full-time enrolment in undergraduate programs at Québec universities in 1997.

Explanatory Factors

The gap between boys and girls with respect to academic achievement is not a matter of intellectual potential. All of the studies conducted over the last 40 years have shown that there is no significant difference between the sexes in this respect. However, these studies are also unanimous on the fact that, overall, boys and girls, particularly at the elementary level, do not have the same attitudes toward academic learning and the more general demands of their role as students: girls are proportionally much more interested in and open to school life than boys. Some do not hesitate to explain this difference in attitudes exclusively in terms of biology, whereas others speak only of the socialization process. Findings in the field of neurobiology in the last 10 years suggest a more complex interplay of these factors. Contrary to common belief, human beings do not interact with their environment using a fixed set of aptitudes. Rather, what they learn as they interact with their environment in turn has an effect on their ability to understand the world around them and interact with it. Not only do innate and acquired aptitudes influence each other, but it would appear that the socialization process is the strongest influencing factor on children.

According to this view, if, given equal intellectual potential, boys do not do as well in school as girls, it is because social forces affect children differently depending on their biological sex. These forces are so distinct as to create differences in the way boys and girls understand the world around them and interact with it. They can be traced to two main sources of socialization.

First, socialization by the adult world gradually leads children to internalize and conform to the social sex role expectations corresponding to the representations of men and women prevalent in their socioeconomic environment of origin. From 18 months on, children are aware of their biological sex and, because sexual identity is the central element of their burgeoning sense of self, they naturally try to identify the social behaviours and attitudes defined by their environment as appropriate for their biological sex. Children thus shape their identities based on the messages they receive from adults as to the kind of behaviour expected from their sex. Adults play a very active role in this process by reinforcing or repressing certain forms of behaviour. Through the models they are given, through the different types of pressure placed on them depending on whether they are male or female, children develop certain characteristic attitudes which predispose them to conform to the expectations associated with their social sex role.

However, socialization by the adult world does not explain everything. A young child may exhibit stereotypical behaviour without having learned, given his or her age, the concepts tied to these stereotypes. In particular, socialization by the adult world does not explain why boys prefer more physical types of games and girls, more social types of games. Because these distinctive forms of interaction appear very early in childhood and involve complex forms of behaviour, it is difficult to understand how boys and girls could, as infants, even before they are fully aware of sex roles, decipher the social expectations of adults or other children toward them.

Secondly, children also gradually internalize social sex role expectations through socialization with each other. Between the ages of 4 and 11, whenever children are not subject to the rules of the adult world, peer socialization is governed by the implicit rule of separation of the sexes. During this period, children learn to classify and sort the social characteristics that are associated with their own sex by renouncing and rejecting those associated with the other sex. The impact of childrens’ socialization by the adult world is manifest in this process and boys’ and girls’ experience in groups is sufficiently different to support the claim that there are, in fact, two cultures among children. Not only do groups of boys and groups of girls engage in different forms of play, but the styles of interaction and the interests of the groups are different too.

There are two main differences between groups of boys and groups of girls. The first of these differences has to do with the amount of effort each group puts into distinguishing itself from the other: while boys construct their masculinity by rejecting femininity, girls feel no need to prove that they are free of any masculine traits in order to accept their femininity. The second difference lies in boys’ and girls’ attitudes toward adults: while boys give more importance to other boys’ reactions, girls are more open to adults. In a general way, these differences are still evident at adolescence.

Socialization by the adult world and peer socialization influence each other. While the first form of socialization is centred on content, the second involves structural elements mainly, certain aspects of which appear to transcend cultural boundaries to varying degrees depending on the culture and socioeoconomic environment of origin. Consequently, different types of intervention are called for, depending on the nature of the phenomenon involved.

From an educational perspective, these two types of socialization, which continue in school, entail consequences of two major kinds. First, they have an impact on the children themselves; they affect the conditions in which children fulfil their role as students – conditions that are the outgrowth of social sex role expectations – and they affect children’s cognitive processes. While there is no difference between men and women in terms of intellectual capacities, it has been observed that men and women use their intellectual capacities differently. In other words, although this difference cannot be considered absolute, men and women have different cognitive styles. Differences may be observed in the way in which men and women store and use information to solve a problem. It is equally true, however, that there are significant differences among individuals of the same sex, differences which sometimes run counter to the general tendency of members of the same sex.

Secondly, teachers also have an impact on the socialization process. Even if teachers think they are neutral and view all the children in their classrooms simply as students, they contribute, through their comments, attitudes and expectations, to the representations of men and women that are prevalent in society. These projected or perceived differences often lead teachers to adopt a double standard of behaviour, that is, to behave differently depending on whether they are dealing with a boy or a girl.

Moreover, the rate at which boys and girls mature would be similar were it not for major differences in language acquisition and in the development of self-control. Girls, because of their greater self-control – which should not be equated, as it has often been, with passivity – generally conform to the type of interaction expected by teachers. They also more readily meet the demands of their role as students, especially because of their greater openness toward adults, and therefore perform better in school than boys. Is the gap between boys and girls with respect to achievement in the language of instruction due to a difference in the rates at which they mature, or is it the outcome of a differential process of socialization? Although current research does not provide conclusive proof of the first hypothesis, it is nonetheless true that reading and writing are presented in the symbolic world as feminine realities. Girls’ greater proficiency in reading and writing is a reality perceived by both students and teachers. Therefore, both tend to see reading and writing as "feminine." This perception influences teachers’ behaviour in the classroom. At the same time boys, under peer pressure, try to avoid being associated with these "feminine" areas of learning.

This explanation, which is based on the process of construction of sexual identity, seems all the more plausible given that, curiously and against all common sense, boys’ difficulties in learning the language of instruction appear to have no impact on their learning in the other school subjects, since no significant differences have been found between boys’ and girls’ achievement in the other school subjects. In other words, at both the elementary and secondary levels, girls and boys attain similar achievement levels in the other school subjects, even though boys proportionally experience greater difficulties in reading and writing.

The difficulties experienced by students in learning the language of instruction nonetheless have short- and long-term consequences for these students. In the short term, difficulties in the language of instruction, combined with difficulties in mathematics, are one of the two main factors used to identify students with learning difficulties or to justify the decision to have a student repeat a grade. In the long term, being labelled as having learning difficulties or repeating a grade has an impact on the student’s progress in school. While no studies have provided evidence of a direct correlation between achievement in the language of instruction and grade repeating or the identification of learning difficulties, the difference in girls’ and boys’ achievement in the language of instruction appears to be a key factor, since no significant difference has been found between the sexes as regards achievement in mathematics.

Graduation to secondary school is the outcome of a process that is dictated by a cumulative logic which favours girls over boys. At this point, boys and girls must determine the meaning their studies have for them, a meaning which has consequences for their future. The gap between their achievement levels, which has increased over time, will often translate into divergent strategies, as evidenced by their respective secondary school graduation rates. In short, students are not just reacting mechanically to role expectations. Their behaviours, which may then be defined as strategies, are governed by a broader interpretation of their situation.

Although students are not aware of all of the consequences of their choices, they have reasons for behaving in one way rather than another. These strategies, in spite of their diversity, can be explained in terms of two main factors, namely, sex and social background, which influence each other. The more advantaged a student’s background, the higher the student’s academic achievement. While the gap between boys’ and girls’ academic achievement is evident in all social strata, the humbler the origins, the wider the gap will be. The academic strategies developed by students depend on the meaning their studies have for them, but it appears that boys and girls, especially those from a working class background, do not see school the same way. On the one hand, there is no doubt that academic success is a stepping stone to a better life for both girls and boys from working class homes. On the other hand, the rebalancing of social sex roles and of the associated social expectations over the last 40 years has encouraged girls to seize the new opportunities afforded them; in boys’ case, these changes in social role expectations have not, as such, opened up new opportunities, especially in light of the fact that the working class generally does not equate postsecondary education with entry into the labour force.

Given that sexual stereotypes are based on the premise of an unequal relationship in which males are viewed as the dominant sex, working class boys who are experiencing academic difficulties are also those who most strongly support masculine stereotypes. In their case, the negative impact of social class and gender is compounded; they try to compensate for their negative perception of their social origin and of their academic difficulties by according more importance to their gender, a behaviour which can only lead them to place even more distance between themselves and the classroom. While girls from a working class background more naturally perceive academic achievement as the key to a more rewarding career and to a family life over which they will exercise greater control, boys from the same background more spontaneously fall back on their prerogatives as males. Consequently, education is more readily perceived by girls as an investment in their future, while boys do not always see the benefit of spending more years in school when they have traditionally been able to find employment with minimal education.

If there is a common denominator or a common thread that explains what most differentiates boys from girls in terms of their academic achievement, beyond the causes of the gap between them, it would undoubtedly be the difference in their attitudes toward education and academic achievement. This should not be considered an absolute dichotomy. However, studies and field observations converge toward the disarmingly simple conclusion that girls generally like school more than boys.

As early as the elementary level, girls take to their role as students more readily and therefore do better than boys. Girls’ greater ease in adjusting to school life is perceived and then integrated into gender representations by teachers and students alike, at a peak time in the construction of the students’ sexual identity. Once this process has started, it feeds on itself so that, with every grade level, the gap between boys’ and girls’ academic achievement grows wider. The more modest the students’ socioeconomic background, the greater the impact of the process.

Policy Guidelines for Supporting Boys and Girls

Throughout Their Schooling

When children start elementary school, they acquire a status, that is, they become students. The word "student" is a neutral word which illustrates that a person’s sex is not taken into account at school. Once students reach secondary school, they must give an overall meaning to their studies. Boys and girls do not necessarily give their studies the same meaning, given that the gap between them has been growing slightly wider with each grade level. The causes underlying the difference in boys’ and girls’ academic achievement are complex. There are therefore no easy solutions. For this reason, the Conseil supérieur de l’éducation is proposing five policy guidelines.

 

Policy Guideline 1: Recognize the Impact of Social Sex Roles and Socialization

Understanding the mechanisms involved in socialization and the construction of sexual identity in children provides educators with additional means for interpreting and better responding to students’ behaviours and attitudes. The aspects of teaching most likely to be affected by this are the student-teacher relationship and classroom management.

 

Policy Guideline 2: Take into Account Students’ Difficulties in the Language of Instruction

The language of instruction must be a primary focus of attention. Because the gap between boys and girls in reading and writing achievement appears as early as the first years of schooling, because it is wider than that observed between boys and girls in other school subjects, and because it persists throughout the years of compulsory schooling, it accounts in large part for the gap between boys and girls in overall academic achievement.

To narrow this gap, teachers must be able to recognize the impact of social sex roles on their representations of students and, consequently, on their different expectations, attitudes and behaviours regarding students, depending on their sex. Above all, representations with respect to learning of the language of instruction must be desexualized by the integration of reading and writing into a wider variety of activities, which would, by the same token, better accommodate all students’ diverse cognitive styles. Efforts must be made to appeal to students’ interests by offering activities which not only target specific learning objectives but also nurture the love of reading and writing. The current curriculum reform provides an unprecedented opportunity to include reading and writing in all subjects as cross-curricular competencies in order to emphasize their usefulness in all areas of everyday life.

Fathers could contribute further to the desexualization of reading and writing by more often setting an example for their sons, as mothers currently do for their daughters. Lastly, given the process of construction of sexual identity, it may be worthwhile to consider teaching reading and writing to single-sex classes on an experimental basis. Of course, the same avenue should be explored in science and mathematics.

 

Policy Guideline 3: Take into Account Differential Rates of Development in the Evaluation of Learning

Self-fulfilling prophesies are the predictions made by one individual about another, basically, his or her expectations concerning this other individual. These predictions tend to come true because the individuals making them more or less consciously create favourable conditions to this effect.

A teacher’s assessment of a student allows the teacher to make predictions about that student’s overall behaviour. Research on self-fulfilling prophesies shows that teachers will put in place the conditions for their predictions to come true. When their predictions do come true, they in turn confirm their assessment.

When teachers’ predictions are positive, they contribute to building a positive self-image in students. Problems arise when teachers’ predictions about students are negative, because the students as a result develop a negative self-image which has an impact on their learning and on their motivation.

Slightly more girls than boys have the appropriate skills for meeting the demands of their role as students, which may be interpreted as proof of a lack of maturity on the part of boys. In kindergarten and throughout elementary school, boys and girls show differences that are of key importance as regards their ability to adapt to school life. These facts should lead the Ministère de l’Éducation to question its assumption that age peers are equal in terms of personal development. They should likewise prompt schools to exercise great caution in making students repeat a grade on the grounds of lack of maturity. Moreover, the organization of instruction in multiyear cycles will make it easier for teachers to plan learning activities that are better adapted to students’ needs.

 

Policy Guideline 4: Take into Account Students’ Cognitive Styles

Cognitive style is a bipolar concept, with each individual standing somewhere along a continuum between two poles. Research has shown that, although there are many differences among subjects of the same sex, there are also similarities. In other words, as regards cognitive styles, boys are on average closer to one pole and girls, closer to the other. In spite of this, cognitive style differences are not absolute and should not be reduced to a simple boy/girl dichotomy.

Cognitive style is an aspect of personality that is shaped by factors which extend far beyond school walls. It is therefore wiser to take students’ diverse cognitive styles into account in teaching and learning activities rather than to try to change them.

Teaching which does not accommodate students’ different cognitive style is not neutral. It favours certain students and discourages others. Given the broad spectrum of cognitive styles, there is a danger in adopting one teaching approach for boys and another for girls, since these approaches will not be suited to a certain number of boys and girls. Accommodating cognitive style in all its diversity promotes academic success for all students.

Policy Guideline 5: Take into Account Adolescents’ Need to Give Meaning to Their Studies

Adolescents in secondary school need to give an explicit meaning to their studies. This need, which grows stronger as students progress to the higher grade levels, is part of the broader quest for meaning experienced at adolescence. This is all the more important in that it is during their secondary studies that students reach the end of compulsory schooling. Students must decide whether or not they wish to continue their studies beyond secondary school, and if so, in what field, and even whether they intend to stay in school long enough to earn a secondary school diploma. These decisions are contingent on the student’s progress in school. Given that the decision to stay in school is the outcome of a process that follows a cumulative logic, girls are generally in a better position than boys in this respect.

Some secondary school students, especially boys, do not always have a clear understanding of why they should attend school. Similarly, some girls may get good grades without necessarily liking school. There is often a sort of gap between adolescents’ need to give a concrete meaning to their studies and schools’ ability to meet this need. The concept of "guidance-oriented" schools was developed specifically to bridge this gap. While personal and occupational planning has already been included in the new curriculum as a cross-curricular theme for teachers to develop, the Conseil wishes to stress the importance of using all appropriate means so that Québec schools truly provide guidance by helping students to give a concrete and positive meaning to their studies and fulfilling their need for challenge.

Recommendations

For each of these five policy guidelines, the Conseil supérieur de l’éducation is submitting recommendations as part of an overall plan for consideration by the Minister of Education, parents and school personnel so that concrete action will be taken in the short and medium term (less than three years) and in the long term (more than three years). This plan of action includes educational measures intended for school personnel, students and parents. It also includes measures aimed at promoting research and development to shed light on the impact of socialization on academic achievement and appropriate means of intervention.

As many questions remain unanswered, the Conseil is aware of the fact that the recommendations made here, though they will help improve the situation, cannot by themselves solve the problem of academic failure and close the gap in boys’ and girls’ academic achievement.

Policy Guideline 1: Recognize the Impact of Social Sex Roles and Socialization

Short- and Medium-Term Measures

Given the impact of social sex roles and socialization on students’ academic achievement, the Conseil urges the Minister of Education to:

  • address these issues in the professional development plan for school personnel to be developed by the Ministère as part of its curriculum reform;
  • include relevant content in the Québec Education Program and the "Program of Programs," in order to raise students’ awareness of the nature of the socialization process and of social sex role expectations;
  • ensure or suggest that these issues also be addressed in the initial training, whether at the college level or the university level, of any person preparing to work with elementary and secondary students;
  • make parents, especially fathers, aware of the impact of the socialization process on their children’s academic achievement and provide them with information on appropriate parental practices.

 

Policy Guideline 2: Take into Account Students’ Difficulties in the Language of Instruction

The measures to be taken with respect to reading and writing concern the Minister of Education, teachers and parents alike since the difference observed between boys and girls in this area is based on a number of factors that are connected to the construction of sexual identity.

Short- and Medium-Term Measures

The Conseil urges the Minister of Education to:

  • pay special attention to the learnings identified in the Québec Education Program as essential cross-curricular competencies in reading and writing in order to desexualize representations related to learning of the language of instruction;
  • support schools’ experimentation with methods to encourage students, especially boys, to learn to read and write, using new information technologies or through extracurricular activities;
  • closely monitor the progress of actions to which the Ministère de l’Éducation committed itself as part of the policy on reading and books (Le temps de lire, un art de vivre) adopted by the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications in 1998;
  • take the necessary measures to provide boys, especially those from disadvantaged areas, with access to high-quality school libraries.

The Conseil also urges teachers to:

  • pay attention to issues related to the construction of sexual identity as they apply to the means used to help and encourage students, particularly boys, to improve their reading and writing skills.

Finally, the Conseil urges parents to:

  • see the difference in boys’ and girls’ reading and writing achievement as an opportunity to become aware that they are directly involved in their children’s education and that they must actively support their children in order to help them progress and succeed in school.

 

Policy Guideline 3: Take into Account Differential Rates of Development Among Students

Short- and Medium-Term Measures

Given that the current guidelines are such that schools are more likely to single out boys as having learning or adjustment difficulties, and that the curriculum reform will lead to extensive changes in these guidelines, the Conseil urges the Minister of Education to take this opportunity to:

  • review the implications of the current definitions of mild and severe learning difficulties in light of the system of multiyear cycles proposed in the new basic school regulations, in which the academic achievement of age peers can no longer be used as the main criterion for identifying these difficulties at both the elementary and secondary levels;
  • encourage schools to exercise caution in making students repeat a grade on the grounds of lack of maturity, and provide financial support for the field-testing of pedagogical support measures as alternatives to grade repeating;
  • step up the professional development and support process aimed at fostering the renewal of teaching practices so that schools may offer students with learning or adjustment difficulties other options than individualized paths for learning in the first cycle of secondary school.
Policy Guideline 4: Take into Account Students’ Cognitive Styles

Medium- and Long-Term Measures

Since students have different ways of interacting with others, processing information, and understanding the world, teaching methods and strategies must take into account the diversity of students’ cognitive styles (which extends beyond a simple boy-girl dichotomy) in order to help all students improve their academic achievement. Consequently, the Conseil urges the Minister of Education to:

  • consider cognitive styles in the development of programs of study and of any other type of instructional material;
  • provide school personnel with professional development on cognitive styles and strategies for accommodating cognitive styles in school;
  • see that the initial training of teachers and of all other individuals preparing to work with elementary and secondary students include content on cognitive styles and strategies for accommodating cognitive styles in teaching situations.

 

Policy Guideline 5: Take into Account Adolescents’ Need to Give Meaning to Their Studies

Short- and Long-Term Measures

Graduation to secondary school is the outcome of a process which proportionally favours girls over boys in many respects. Given that secondary school coincides with the period in their lives when students must make decisions about their future, the Conseil urges the Minister of Education to:

  • provide students with the resources they need to familiarize themselves with occupations, employment prospects, real-life working conditions and skill requirements so that schools will truly fulfill their role of providing guidance for students.

The Conseil urges schools to:

  • stimulate adolescents’ interest in reading and writing and in school work in general by emphasizing their usefulness in everyday life;
  • use project-based learning to a greater extent so that learning activities can lead to concrete results;
  • monitor boys and girls with academic difficulties closely throughout their schooling, especially in the first cycle of secondary school.
Research and Development Measures

Long-Term Measures

Given the complexity of the issues and, consequently, of the research to be undertaken, the Conseil urges the Minister of Education to encourage funding organizations such as the Fonds pour la formation de chercheurs et l’aide à la recherche (FCAR), the Conseil québécois de la recherche sociale (CQRS) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to provide funding for research on the following topics :

  • the impact of differential sex role socialization at home and in school on the academic and personal achievement of elementary and secondary students;
  • the link between the proportion of male and female teachers at the elementary and secondary levels and the academic achievement of boys and girls as well as the place of male and female role models as factors in boys’ and girls’ academic achievement;
  • the link between achievement in the language of instruction and the physical, physiological and psychological development of boys and girls;
  • the link between achievement in the language of instruction and achievement in other school subjects, and between achievement in the language of instruction and grade repeating and the identification of learning and adjustment difficulties;
  • the impact of strategies such as single-sex groupings for specific courses or other activities on the academic achievement and motivation of girls and boys at elementary and secondary levels;
  • the cognitive styles of girls and boys at the elementary and secondary levels and appropriate teaching strategies.

Funding could be allotted for projects on topics identified as having priority, joint projects or projects to be carried out by existing research teams.

Follow-Up and Evaluation of the Plan of Action

Just as it would for any other plan of action, the Ministère de l’Éducation should put in place a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the proposed measures, to assess their impact on the academic achievement of boys and girls, and to make the main findings and conclusions available to schools.

Finally, as has been amply demonstrated in the fight for gender equity, concrete measures may be taken now but translate into visible changes in attitudes and behaviours only years from now. Changes in the culture and social sex role expectations of a society cannot be dictated or imposed. Consequently, this plan of action should not be expected to yield all of the desired outcomes in the short term. However, it is imperative to act now, as the gap in academic achievement between boys and girls has social implications today which in turn have far-reaching repercussions on the future of Québec society.


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