This study was conducted in the five mixed senior secondary schools in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State on Gender influence on choice of subject in SSCE Examination. The purpose of the study was to determine the subject preferred by males than females, identifying factors associated with subject choice and determine the problems affecting the subject choice of students. Descriptive survey method was adopted.
There are seven hundred and fifteen (715) Students in Senior Secondary 3 (SS3) in Enugu North, random sampling was used to select two hundred and fifty (250) out of 715 students. The questionnaire was used for data collection and the items were descriptive of frequencies and mean responses. The basic findings showed that greater of males choose science subjects based on their greater aptitude in mathematics. The major problems that influenced the choice of both males and females were: Gender, family background, job opportunity, parents, teachers and peer group. It was recommended that the students, teachers and parents should be exposed to the needs of choosing subjects that one knows better.
1.1 Background of the Study
Gender, according to Longman Dictionary (2000) is defined as the fact of being male or female. Oxford Dictionary 5th edition (1998) defines gender as the condition of being male or female. The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (2004) has it that “gender corresponds to sex. Animate beings are either masculine or feminine. Britannica volume 5 (2005) defines gender as self-conception of being a male or female as distinguished from actual biology sex. From the above definitions, gender can be then be defined as “the fact of being male or female.”
According to Oxford Dictionary 5th Edition (1998) influence is to have effect on somebody on their behaviour. It is the power to affect somebody’s actions, character or beliefs especially by providing an example for them to follow. Longman Dictionary (2000) defines influence as the power to affect the way someone develops, behaves or thinks without using direct force or order. Also, the New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary (2004) sees influence as the power or process of producing an effect upon a person, by intangible means. Influence, therefore, is the power to affect the way someone develops, behaves or thinks without directly forcing or ordering the person.
The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary 6th edition (2000) defined “Choice” as an act of choosing between two or more possibilities. The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of English Language (2004) says that Choice is the act, fact, power or privilege of choosing; selecting a number or variety from which to choose, the power to prefer or select. Brittannica volume 3 (2004) defines choice as a corollary of the proposition of the free will, that is, the ability voluntarily to decide to perform one of several possible acts or to avoid action entirely. Choice can therefore be defined as the power to prefer or select.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (2000) defines subject as the things you are talking abut or considering in a conversation, discussion. It is the area of knowledge that one study. For the purpose of this research work, subjects are the courses offered in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) which are sciences and Arts.
Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) is the external Examination that students in Senior Secondary Three (SS3) take as the final examination usually organized by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO).
Nigerian Government is committed to building a nation devoid of gender discrimination, guaranteeing equal access to political education, social and economic wealth, creating opportunities for women and men.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), (2001) pointed out that gender development index in Nigeria stood at 0.423 ranking 124thcountry in the world expowerment index for men was 0.456 and that of women was 0.442 indicating that men were marginally better than women not withstanding that “what a man can do, a woman can do it better.”
In the traditional society, women were highly discriminated against and marginalized to the point that education of young women were regarded as a wastage of resources, since their education will end-up in kitchen. Because of this, women choose subjects like Arts that will allow them carry out their domestic responsibilities alongside their education. Gender is a concept that is dynamic and its relationships always subject to changes, however, it varies from one country to another.
United National International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), (1998) defines gender as “the various socially and culturally constructed roles, qualities, responsible behaviours, power and so on that are described to women and men by different societies.
Gender influence on choice of subjects has been a topic in recent global development initiatives (Clifford, 1999). Gender plays decisive role on students’ choice of subject in Senior Secondary School Examination (SSCE), Measor and Sikes, (1996) observed that most societies prescribe different activities and characteristics for male and females which may come to be seen as natural by people involved. Therefore, there are courses such as mathematics and other science subjects that involved calculations which are ascribed as male subjects while those that requires less quantitative implications were attributed to female subjects along these line determines the gender preference at each point in time.
However, women are competing favourably with men in choosing science subjects. The present study seeks to investigate the influence of gender on choice of subjects in SSEC Examination with emphasis on Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
In summary, the variables of this work are gender being the independent variable and choice being the dependent variable. This is so because gender cannot be changed, it remains what it is while choice changes.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The researchers would like to know if:
1. Students choose science or Arts subjects because of their gender (sex);
ii. they make choice of subject based on how difficulty or easy a given course (subject) may be;
iii. some make choice of subject under the influence of their parents, teachers and their fellow students (peer group);
iv. the family background of students influences their choice of subject in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE);
v. the nature of School (availability of equipment and presence of qualified and experienced teachers) attended by the student and if
vi. job opportunity of a given course (subject) also influences the choice of subject by the students.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to find out gender preference of subjects choice in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSEC). The study seeks to
i. identify the particular subjects the male and female students will differently prefer to register in SSCE Examination;
ii. examine problems encountered by students in choice of subjects;
iii. examine various solution areas on problems of gender preference in choice of subjects;
iv. investigate if female students take science subjects than male students and
v. know the attitudes of parent and teachers on choice of subjects in Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study (research work) will be significant to: the researchers themselves, their follow-up students; parents; schools; government and the legislators (policy makers).
1. This study will help the researchers to graduate successfully.
2. It will serve as a reference material to their (researchers) follow-up students.
3. Through this study, parents will know that it is better to allow their children (students) to make their choice of subject rather than influence them.
4. The school uses it (research work) as a reference material in the library.
5. This research work will improve the yet to come government, being that the students does not deviate from their field of study.
6. It will enable the policy makers (legislators) to initiate young women aspiring subjects to compete with men in specialized science areas.
1.5 Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated to guide this study:
1. Does gender has any effects on choice of subject in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE)?
2. Does student choose subject because of how difficult or easy the subject may be?
3. Do parents, teachers and peer-group influence students choice of subjects?
4. Does student family background affects their choice of subjects in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE)?
5. Does the nature of Schools attended by students affect their choice of subjects?
6. Does job opportunity of a subject (course) influence the students’ choice of subject?
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
This study is limited to Senior Secondary Class 3 (SS3), in five mixed secondary schools, randomly selected in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State.