Gender, Writing and The Gap

Gender, Writing and The Gap 

Dr Victorina Gonzalez-Diaz 

The Challenge 

Concerns about a ‘gap’ in writing attainment between boys and girls (where girls consistently perform better than boys) date from the late 1990s and has been at forefront of the educational agenda since then, particularly at the primary school level. The COVID-19 pandemic constituted a serious setback to previous efforts to address the issue, with national surveys of literacy pointing at ‘alarmingly low levels of writing enjoyment’ (NLT 2023) from pre-pandemic times. This is especially worrying for the Liverpool city region, whose outcomes in writing attainment are often in the lowest 10% in the national statistics. 

Research Action 

In partnership with the Liverpool City Council, we collected and compared two types of data: language data (boys’ and girls’ writing) and attitudinal data (focus groups and questionnaires from primary schoolchildren, local policy-makers and local teachers). The comparisons indicated limited differences between boys’ and girls’ writing, but noticeable divergences in attitudes towards the concept of ‘good’ writing and ‘gendered’ writing, as well as in schoolchildren’s socio-emotional responses to writing. We therefore designed and trialled a series of CPD interventions for teachers addressing three key areas: Conceptualisations of Good Writing, ‘Gendered’ Writing Attitudes and Writing, Gender and Feedback. 

Outputs and Outcomes 

Outcomes from the project include a Policy Briefing, changes in local policy (modification of to the SIL Liverpool Writing Quality Mark), CPD training materials and a corpus of children’s writing for teaching and research.