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Olika världar, skilda värderingar: Hur flickor och pojkar möter högstadiets fysik, kemi och teknik
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
1992 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Different worlds, different values : How girls and boys meet physics, chemistry and technology at the upper level of compulsory school (English)
Abstract [en]

This study investigates how Swedish pupils meet science (chemistry and physics) and technology in compulsory school. It explores girls' and boys' actions in and thoughts about these subjects. The study has a feminist perspective focusing on girls. Two teaching groups were followed from the start in grade 7 in compulsory school, when the pupils were 13 years old, until they made their choice of study programmes in upper secondary school in grade 9. The main methods were classroom observations and taped interviews.

The results have been divided into the following four parts: the pupils' family background and recreation interests, classroom interactions, girls' and boys' approaches to science, and their choices of study programmes in upper secondary school. Girls and boys have different experiences and interests when they first meet science in grade 7 and boys have, thanks to their recreation interests, greater opportunities to participate in or take an interest in science/technology. The pupils come from different worlds determined by gender and social background. In the classroom girls get and take upon themselves the role of keeping the lessons together, thus fostering a responsible rationality, while boys strive to dominate the public arena. The process of shaping diligent, working, responsible girls as opposed to more childish, playful and competing boys continues in grades 7-9. Girls and boys prefer different subject areas. Boys have a practical while girls have a more theoretical approach to science. Even if there are important differences between girls, primarily owing to family background, there are significant differences between girls and boys. Girls seek "connected knowledge" and even the successful girls question their own understanding, which can be interpreted as a result of their learning style but also of their knowledge of the historical construction of women as unfit for science.

The majority of the girls have, over the years, come to construct femininity - and maturity - as being opposed to enjoying experiments which are regarded as boys' play and as part of the masculine world. Boys also criticize girls for both failure and success and they try to get power over the subject content and the apparatus. This is interpreted as a reconstruction of the masculinity of the subjects. Girls who, nevertheless, take an interest in physics and chemistry often have supporting scientist fathers or at least parents with a higher education. Technology is rejected by all girls. The mutual construction and reconstruction of gender and of science/technology contribute to gendered choices of study programmes in upper secondary school.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1992. , 202 p.
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768 ; 32
Keyword [en]
Gender, classroom interaction, compulsory school, learning style, science, social class, technology
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-16590ISBN: 91-7174-703-6OAI: diva2:156263
Public defence
1992-10-02, Humanisthuset, hörsal E, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2007-10-07 Created: 2007-10-07 Last updated: 2013-03-11Bibliographically approved

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Staberg, Else-Marie
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