Academic journal article International Education Studies

Causes of Gender Differences in Accounting Performance: Students' Perspective

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Causes of Gender Differences in Accounting Performance: Students' Perspective

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study employs the survey method to investigate the factors that cause academic differences between female and male students at the largest university in Botswana. The population of this research was the students of the last three years of the 4 year Bachelor of Accountancy degree programme at the University of Botswana. Anchored on the prior studies' indications that female students outperform their male counterparts in accounting examinations, the current study sought the views of the respondents on factors responsible for this phenomenon and their suggestions on how the gap may be bridged. This study revealed that the key factor explaining academic performance is individual's commitment and right attitude towards accounting studies. Respondents believe that female students perform better because they work harder and have better study ethics. Females attend more classes and tutorials, seek guidance on their studies from lecturers and participate more in class discussions than their male counterparts. Male students perform poorly because they lack enthusiasm towards studies and fail to balance social life and academic work while at school. The implications of this study are that male students need to re-examine their attitude towards education, class attendance and participation in academic activities in order to improve their grades. The society and the educational institutions need to become more vigilant in ensuring that males remain focused on positive learning while in school.

Keywords: academic performance, accounting students, female students, gender, male students, University of Botswana

1. Introduction

1.1 Introducing the Study

Numerous studies have identified gender as one of the factors that explain academic performance (e.g. Bagamery, Lasik & Nixon, 2005; Black & Duhon, 2003; Gracia & Jenkins, 2002). However, research results regarding which gender group performs better than the other and which factors explain the performance gap between genders have not yielded conclusive results. Traditionally, males' academic achievement was considered superior to that of females especially in mathematics and sciences because of higher levels of innate spatial ability (Benbow & Stanley, 1980). At the same time, females' performance was placed above their male counterparts in language because of their greater verbal and reasoning abilities (Wilberg & Lynn, 1999). However, Estronaut (1999) highlighted that studies that have found a gap between men and women's cognitive abilities have also found much more overlap. They observed that a man can grasp the skills of language just as well as a female. Similarly, many women excel in spatial skills. These observations point to the underlying complexity of the factors explaining the gender differences in education attainment and this is what has prompted the current study.

The current thinking is that gender difference in academic performance is not solely attributed to innate differences in males and females. But there are other numerous factors influencing educational ability, including, but not limited to, economic, cultural, social, and differences in educational systems and techniques (Gallagher, 2001). Factors which have been linked with accounting attainment at tertiary level include entry qualification and general ability (Jackling & Anderson, 1998), prior accounting knowledge (Balwin & Howe, 1982; Bergin 1983; Mitchell, 1988); class size, attributes of the teacher and complexity of the course (Naser & Peel, 1998) and age, tuition and study material (Roos, 2009). Despite the complexity of factors influencing intellectual achievement, a number of studies are pointing to the evidence that gender is associated with academic performance and females are increasingly outperforming males even in the subjects which were traditionally dominated by males (Dayioglu & Turnt-Asik, 2004, Gallagher, 2001, University Council and General Board, 2001). …

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