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The homogenizing and binary categorization of boys and girls in popular and political rhetoric continues in educational contexts. To explore differences in boys’ experience at school a recent study examined the influence of disadvantage and related notions of masculinity on literacy outcomes. Specifically, this exploration included 297 surveys and 36 interviews with primary aged students from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. While there was an overall tendency for more girls than boys to indicate higher reading achievement, higher reading frequency and higher levels of reading enjoyment these differences were not as significant as expected. While many boys were indeed doing well in literacy and positioned reading positively within their gendered identity, of concern were some expressions of masculinity that were interpreted as problematic for many boys in very personal and potent ways. For these boys, socioeconomic status was often associated with constraining experiences that interplayed with powerful constructions of masculinity that impacted upon literacy experiences and outcomes. Continued growth in social inequity in many Western societies, including the Mediterranean, makes understanding the influence of socioeconomic status on boys’ literacy experiences significant for addressing social change and transforming notions of masculinity to include positive constructions that young boys can aspire to, and value.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access