Gendered Patterns in Writing and Degree Award
This chapter outlines the main arguments in the area of gender and undergraduate writing styles. It explores B. Francis’s hypothesis that a bold and assertive style, more readily available to males, can be particularly rewarded and penalised in undergraduate writing, and it uses data from a study of undergraduate students’ writing to test this theory. Men continue to be awarded more first class degrees than do women, although recent Higher Education Statistics Agency figures suggest a slight closing of this gender gap. There are a number of different possible explanations for the continuing existence of the gender discrepancy in undergraduate achievement, despite the practice of blind marking. An alternative explanation is that students write differently according to gender — and that gendered criteria are applied to students’ writing. The research of B. Davies and B. Francis shows how children come to understand the world as gendered according to a relational binary code, or ‘gender duality’, as Davies terms it.