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This study was conducted in five coeducational senior secondary institutions in the Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State to determine the influence of gender on SSCE subject selection. The purpose of the study was to identify the subject preferred by males over females, to identify the factors associated with subject choice, and to identify the obstacles affecting pupil subject choice.

The descriptive survey methodology was chosen. Seven hundred and fifteen (715) students are enrolled in Senior Secondary 3 (SS3) in Enugu North; a random sample of 250 pupils was taken from this group. The questionnaire was used to collect data, and its questions described frequency and mean responses.

The fundamental findings revealed that a larger proportion of males choose science courses due to their higher aptitude in mathematics. Gender, family background, employment opportunities, parents, instructors, and peer group were the most influential factors in both male and female decisions. It was suggested that students, instructors, and parents be made aware of the importance of choosing subjects in which they excel.



1.1 Background of the Research

The Longman Dictionary (2000) defines gender as the state of being male or female. The 1998 edition of the Oxford Dictionary defines gender as the condition of being male or female. According to the New International Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language (2004), “gender corresponds to sex.

The gender of living things is either masculine or feminine. The fifth volume of the Britannica (2005) defines gender as the self-perception of being male or female, as opposed to biological sex. The above definitions allow us to define gender as “the state of being male or female.”

According to the Oxford Dictionary, 5th Edition (1998), to influence someone is to affect their behaviour. It is the ability to influence someone’s actions, character, or beliefs, particularly by setting a good example.

Longman Dictionary (2000) defines influence as the capacity to affect the growth, behavior, or thought processes of another individual without the use of direct force or command. In addition, the New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary (2004) defines influence as the capacity or process of affecting a person through intangible means. Therefore, influence is the ability to affect the development, behavior, or thoughts of another person without forcing or commanding them.

The sixth edition of the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary (2000) defined “Choice” as the act of selecting between two or more alternatives. According to the New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (2004), choice is the act, fact, power, or privilege of choosing; selecting a number or variety from which to select, the ability to prefer or select.

Choice is defined in volume 3 of the Britannica (2004) as a corollary of the concept of free will, that is, the ability to voluntarily determine to perform one of several possible actions or to abstain from action entirely. Therefore, choice can be defined as the ability to prefer or select.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (2000) defines subject as the items being discussed or considered during a conversation. It refers to the field of study. For the purposes of this study, subjects are the sciences and arts disciplines offered by the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE).

Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) is the external examination that students in Senior Secondary Three (SS3) take. It is typically administered by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council. (NECO).

The Nigerian government is committed to constructing a nation devoid of discrimination based on gender, assuring equal access to political education, social and economic wealth, and providing opportunities for both men and women.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), (2001) reported that the gender development index in Nigeria was 0.423, ranking the country 124th in the world. The empowerment index for men was 0.456 and that for women was 0.442, indicating that men were marginally superior to women despite the adage “what a man can do, a woman can do better.”

In the traditional society, women were subjected to severe discrimination and marginalization, to the point where the education of young women was viewed as a waste of resources because they would only wind up in the kitchen. Due to this, women choose subjects such as the arts that enable them to fulfil their domestic responsibilities in addition to their education. Gender is a dynamic concept, and its relationships are always subject to change; nevertheless, it varies from country to country.

United National International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) (1998) defines gender as “the various socially and culturally constructed roles, qualities, responsible behaviors, power, etc. that are ascribed to women and men in various societies.”

Gender bias in subject selection has been a focus of recent global development initiatives. (Clifford, 1999). Gender plays a decisive influence in Senior Secondary School Examination subject selection. (SSCE), Measor and Sikes (1996) observed that the majority of societies prescribe distinct activities and traits for males and females, which may come to be regarded as natural by those involved.

Therefore, courses such as mathematics and other science subjects involving calculations are categorised as male subjects, whereas those requiring fewer quantitative implications are categorised as female subjects. The gender preference at any given time is determined along these lines.

However, women compete favourably with males in their selection of science courses. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of gender on subject selection in the SSEC Examination, with a focus on Enugu North Local Government Area, Enugu State.

The independent variable in this study is gender, while the dependent variable is choice. This is the case because gender cannot be altered; it remains unaltered while options change.

1.2 Description of the Problem

The researchers wish to determine whether:

Students choose scientific or arts classes based on their gender;

ii. they select subjects based on the degree of difficulty or ease of a given course (subject);

iii. some make subject decisions based on the influence of their parents, teachers, and peers (peer group);

iv. family heritage influences students’ subject selection on the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination;

v. the nature of the School attended by the student (availability of equipment and presence of qualified and experienced instructors), and if applicable.

vi. the employment prospects of a particular course (subject) also influence students’ subject selection.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The purpose of this study is to determine gender preferences in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination subject selection (SSEC). This investigation aims to

i. identify the specific SSCE examination subjects that male and female students will register for differentially;

ii. evaluate issues encountered by students in subject selection;

iii. examine numerous solution areas for gender discrimination in subject selection

iv. investigate whether female students are more likely than male students to enrol in science courses.

v. understand the perspectives of parents and instructors on subject selection for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations.

1.4 Importance of the Research

This study (research work) will be significant for the researchers, their future students, parents, institutions, the government, and legislators. (policy makers).

This research will enable the researchers graduate with honours.

2. It will function as a resource for their (the researchers’) future students.

This study will inform parents that it is preferable to enable their children (students) to choose their own subjects rather than influencing them.

The school utilises it (the research project) as a reference in the library.

This research will enhance the future government, given that the students did not deviate from their field of study.

It will enable policymakers (legislators) to encourage young women interested in specialised scientific fields to compete with men.

1.5 Investigative Questions

To guide this investigation, the following research questions were formulated:

Does gender influence the selection of subjects for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE)?

Does the student choose subjects based on how difficult or simple they may be?

Do parents, instructors, and peers influence students’ subject selections?

Does student family origin influence their Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) subject selection?

Does the type of school that students attend influence their subject selection?

Does the employment outlook of a subject (course) influence students’ subject selection?

1.6 Range and Restriction of the Study

This study is restricted to Senior Secondary Class 3 (SS3) in five randomly selected mixed secondary institutions in Enugu North Local Government Area, Enugu State.

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