Year: 1991

Author: Bornholt, Laurel

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Social comparisons are an important source of students’ perceptions of their own achievement, for instance, comparisons made to the boys and girls in the class. For the present study, students rated their achievement (performance and effort) and were then asked to make comparisons to most boys and girls in their grade, in two subject domains, Mathematics and English.

The findings were similar for gendered comparisons within the grade as were found in a previous study of comparisons within the class. There was an interaction effect between gender and the comparison type, for English but not Mathematics. Girls rated themselves higher when they compared their English performance to boys than when they made comparisons to other girls, whilst boys rated their opposite-sex comparisons lower than same-sex comparions. A corresponding effect was found in the opposite direction for perceptions of effort. One explanation of this anomaly between English and Mathematics is that comparisons are influenced by traditional gender stereotypes, but making the comparison explicit overlays onto traditional stereotypes ideas about gender equality; ideas which are applied only to Maths.