In response to this question this essay will begin with a brief outline on the importance of agency and structure in relation to gender identity. In particular it will discuss how social change in consequence has changed people's perceptions of gender identity. It will then proceed by looking at media claims that girls are out achieving boys at school and show how social scientists explore these claims and how they may relate to changing gender identities.

Our gender identities are formed by the use of gender categories, which is how the culture of a society categorizes feminine and masculine characteristics associated with men and women.Although gender identities are stereotyped they are not fixed and there is room for diversity. Hence a woman may have a typical masculine characteristic yet still be a woman and vice versa. We do as individuals have a degree of agency over the decisions and choices we make, however there are structures in society, social, cultural and economic factors which influence these choices. When social change occurs this can cause uncertainty and dversity in our identities but can also offer opportunities to form new identities.Lets considr how the roles of men and women in society have changed since the 1950'.

Men at this time were seen as the breadwinners, working in the manufacturing industries, coal pits or steel works. Women's primary role was to marry young, look after their husbands, bring up the children and look after the home. There was little or no opportunities for women to work. Today however, even though it can be argued that the women role in society is that of a mother, to a certain extent they have challenged these stereotypesof their gender identity and now see themselves as equal to men.

Due to factors such as cost of living, paying morgages and so on it is necessary for most women to work even if it is just part time. It is changes such as these which show the influence of structures on identity. Hence it makes us question who we are and look for new identities if the old ones diverse. So how then do these changes in gender identity relate to the performance of girls and boys in school? Is it true that girls are out achieving boys? According to government statistics exam results show that girls are coming up tops in many subjects.

These statistics have resulted in the media claiming there is a 'crisis'in boys education. To investigate these claims social scientists explore various explanations. They do this by cognitive testing which shows if there are biological differences which may explain performance and they also look at social and cultural influences and experiences of boys and girls. In their investigation of these claims Murphy and Elwood claim that it is interaction with families, friends and inschool that we develop particular masculine and feminine attributes.This is evident in a study by Francis who shows how 7 to 11 yearold adopt certain characteristics and behaviour patterns. Francis notes that ' girls take on sensible, selfless mature facilitating behaviours, boys took on silly, selfish immature and demanding behaviour' It was also noted that girls and boys took on typical feminine and typical masculine roles in this experiment.

She did note however that gender identities are also influenced by class and ethinicity therefore there is room for diversity.Murphy and elwood argue that it is these particular attribute and attitudes of boys and girls which influence how well they do in particular subjects. for example girls do well in creative subjects boys in science. They also argue that teachers treat girls and boys differently due to their typical gendered behaviours as shown in francis research which can it is argues lead to mistakes about ability.

For example a girls lack of experience in a certain subject ' is all too often interpretated as lack of ability.These often mistaken assumptions may then lead to girls and boys being entered for different level exams. Hence boys results may be worse if entered for the higher exams. Cognitive tests are looked at to consider whether it is biology of boys and girls is different.

Birke argues that cognitive testing is inadequate as they can only measure a limited verbal skills, there is more to these skills such as reading and reasoning abilities. She also argues that results often show little or no difference.Cognitive results show differences in brain structure and sex hormones it is argued however that man and women it is the differences in lifestyles of men and women which influence this cognitive difference. Birke argues that it is ' interaction between biology and social and cultural experiences which determine the differences. between men and women.

When adopting these types of tests to exams in school birke argues that tests only show limited range of abilities. therefore don't always measure appropriately He argues that the differences within school and out of school shared by boys and girls may be why there are differences in performance.