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Gender, Science and Essentialism: the use of science to support single-sex schooling

Dorothy Veronica Smith


In this article I examine the trend that links science to differences between girls and boys as learners. Although the reasoning is flawed and the science has been misrepresented, the reported differences have been taken up by proponents of single-sex education for girls and boys.


These claims rely on an essentialist view of science and of society: they insist on difference where it would be more productive and more accurate to look for similarity. I recommend that not only should all schools seek a more subtle account of gender, they should also seek a more nuanced account of science, for without such an account the science of gender will continue to be open to misrepresentation.





science education; gender; science; schooling; essentialism; single-sex schooling

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