Studying ‘unmanly’: young Swedes

Studying 'unmanly':  young Swedes
A new Swedish study shows that young male high school students, enrolled in the science programme, often downplay their schoolwork in order to culture the social aspect of their future career through making friends and networking.

“The young male science students think they need other resources than what they will be graded on in school to be able to compete on the labour market – and that includes culturing an extensive social circle,” said Ann-Sofie Nyström, doctor of sociology, at Stockholm University, to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Many are hoping to take up high powered employment as lawyers, doctors and engineers, but they are counting on getting into these programmes through something other than high grades, namely the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (Högskoleprovet).

Failing to get into the Swedish programmes that way, however, many plan to study abroad.

The study shows that there is a very complex interplay between the teacher and the male and female students in the classroom, based on the way “you are supposed to be” if you are a girl or a boy.

It is okay for girls to be ambitious and take their schoolwork seriously, whereas for the boys, it is important to be seen as smart, well-read and knowledgeable, but with minimal effort seemingly required.

According to Nyström there was also a discrepancy between how the boys described their studying in a one-to-one conversation compared to in a group setting.

“I am pretty sure that they played down their studies. Because it is important to know a lot, be clever and well-informed. That gives high status in the group, but it has to seem effortless,” she said to DN.

According to the study, the boys see themselves as high achievers but rate the social aspects–being popular, getting invited to parties, and winning arguments–as the key to getting top jobs.

Those students that focus on their studies are seen as less intelligent and unlikely to get hired.

The girls that were interviewed found the boys’ attitude naïve. They also see themselves as high achievers but believe that studying is what is important to get anywhere in science.

TT/Rebecca Martin

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