Academic journal article College Student Journal

Gender Differences in Academic Performance among Undergraduates at the University of Jordan: Are They Real or Stereotyping?

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Gender Differences in Academic Performance among Undergraduates at the University of Jordan: Are They Real or Stereotyping?

Article excerpt

The grade point averages (GPAs) of the University of Jordan undergraduate students from 2002 to 2007 were studied to determine gender differences in academic performance over the above mentioned period. Students' records (17,522 females, 8,600 males) were obtained from the registrar's unit. The data were analyzed to reveal the role of gender on the students' academic achievement. The results of the study showed that female undergraduate students were found to outperform male undergraduates in their GPAs. This result is contrary to the general Jordanian stereotypical beliefs about female academic performance in higher education. Implications and recommendations based on the results of this study were also introduced.


Gender differences have become on the hotlist of critical issues around the world. Hausmann, Tyson, & Zahidi (2009) reported that there is no country in the world that has yet reached equality between women and men in different critical areas such economic participation or education.

In Jordan, gender stereotyping is still prevalent in almost all aspects of life (A1bedour, 2004; Nabulsi, 2002). The phenomenon of gender differences is not only observed in the daily life matters but also in textbooks and teachers' attitudes (The World Bank, 2005). While we see males dealing with complex and difficult tasks of life matters inside and outside the house, we see, on the other hand, girls handling the relatively easy and less demanding tasks or things at home. A1bedour (2004) noted that there are different gender roles within the Jordanian family. One of the most important differences observed by Al-bedour was that while the male member is allowed to perform several activities concerning the family, it is restricted for the female member to do the same things. For example, parents allow the male member to participate in decision making, and to make little contributions to the house work but it is restricted for females to participate in decision making; nevertheless, they take the heavy load of home chores. Moreover, Al-bedour reported that the status of the mother and the father, the type of work they have, the age and level of education of parents, and the income of the family, in addition to the number of family members are all reasons that affect the male or female to pursue university education (p. 134).

According to the World Bank (2005), the Jordanian society developed a very rigid picture that certain characteristics such as "references to kindness, love, sensitivety, and intersest in caring for familty" are always linked to females (p. 31). A1waqfi's (1997) study arrived at similar findings in which he found that females in the Jordanian socity are generally more affectionate and more sensitive. Results of other studies in other Arab couuntries (e.g. Alsadah, 1993) confim the findings of Jordanian studies in witch they agree that school textbooks still present women in the traditional roles, and that their roles are overwhelmingly concentrated in the teaching, training, and service jobs.

The common traditional stereotypical beliefs about women performance are that women seem to work less hard than men, and that female students achieve lower scores in school stages in general, and high school in particular, and that girls who fail at school usually get married at early ages. The United Nations (n. d., cited in Social Institutions and Gender Index) estimated "that 8 % of Jordanian girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorce or widowed"

Another common traditional stereotype is that some demanding majors (i.e., Medicine, Engineering, Dentistry, Pharmacy, etc.) that afford very good careers in Jordan are almost males' jobs, while softer majors (i.e., Psychology, Education, Languages, Social Sciences, etc.) that don't offer good careers are mainly open for females. For all of the abovementioned reasons, it is worth mentioning that studying the gender differences is important because it influences the society's views about the roles of females in the society, females' self-confidence and ambitions, and the effect of stereotyping in education. …

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