A new study reveals clear gender differences of opinion among parents when it comes to our children’s schooling. Researchers found that moms are more likely than dads to favor both school diversity and neighborhood schools. They also found that moms are more likely to be concerned about challenges, dangers, and uncertainty related to school assignments.
“Our threshold question was whether there were gender differences among parents toward their children’s public school assignments, and we found clear differences,” said lead author Dr. Toby Parcel, a professor of sociology at North Carolina State University.
“This is the first time researchers have measured, in an empirical way, how school assignment concerns break down along gender lines,” Parcel says. “And it gives us a deeper, fundamental understanding of parental concerns about schooling.”
For the study, researchers looked at survey data from 547 parents of children in Wake County Public Schools in North Carolina. Survey participants were split about evenly between men and women.
And while this study focused on one North Carolina county, Parcel said the findings are broadly applicable to other parts of the United States.
“We found that mothers were more pro-diversity and more supportive of neighborhood schools than fathers, regardless of any other variables such as race, education, income, or political affiliation,” Parcel said.
“This highlights the policy challenges facing school administrators, who often have to find a balance between promoting school diversity and drawing a school population from its immediate neighborhood.”
The findings also show that moms tend to be more worried than dads about potential logistical challenges a school reassignment might pose, are more concerned that a reassignment may harm a child’s learning or friendships, and are more uncertain about the likelihood of a child being reassigned to a different school.
“We do know that school boards do take these concerns into account,” Parcel says. “For example, in Wake County, these concerns have slowed down the rate, and limited the number, of school reassignments.”
The study also highlighted another area of potential interest for future research: school choice.
“We think the work of making school choices — such as choosing among public, private, charter, magnet, and home-schooling options — is significant; it takes time, effort and emotional energy,” Parcel said.
“And it’s an understudied area. We’d like to see questions about this incorporated into national surveys that focus on the division of household labor.”
The paper is published in the journal Socius.
Source: North Carolina State University