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Need more research on why boys lag behind girls

Director-General of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Camilla Stoltenberg, is one of the people behind the report, “New chances – better learning: Gender differences in school performance and educational tracks”, published last year. During the seminar she emphasised how essential it is to obtain more research on gender differences because, as she stated, there is “a major knowledge gap when it comes to research on gender differences between boys and girls in the Nordic educational system.”

Helena Lohmann, Senior Adviser from the Nordic Welfare Centre, one of the speakers at the seminar, suggested more exploration in a number of areas: “More traditional teaching methods might help boys and might reduce the gender gap in education. More Nordic studies would be useful. How does the parents’ social economic background affect children’s performance in schools?”

The seminar featured a panel debate which also included Ann Mari Milo Lorentzen of the Union of Education Norway and Dean and Professor Fritjof Sahlström of Åbo Akademi. When asked whether research primarily focuses on boys’ grades per se rather than on the longer-term consequences of gender differences, Professor Sahlström replied:

“So far, it is the case that men are privileged in society, but we have known for a long time that women have outperformed men in education, so what is the role of education? It’s interesting to ask how much it matters to have good grades and to know things. I think it matters a lot, but we need to have that discussion and view schools and classrooms in a larger context and in society. That’s my take-home message from this field.”

In his concluding remarks, Director of NordForsk, Arne Flåøyen, stated the following: “NordForsk can bring together research and experts from all the Nordic countries. Each of the countries is small, but together we represent 27 million people in the region. The Nordic countries have a lot in common and they could be a really good test bed for different interventions and, actually, also to find out the causes of the gender gaps.”

The audience comprised some 50 participants from the Nordic region, including representatives of Nordic research councils and universities, in addition to those who followed one of the live feeds via social media.

You can watch or review the seminar in its entirety here: