Gender Differences in Resistance to Schooling: The Role of Dynamic Peer-Influence and Selection Processes
Jonsson, Jan O. , Sara Geven & Frank van Tubergen
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Volume 46, Issue 12, pp 2421–2445.
Boys engage in notably higher levels of resistance to schooling than girls. While scholars argue that peer processes contribute to this gender gap, this claim has not been tested with longitudinal quantitative data. This study fills this lacuna by examining the role of dynamic peer-selection and influence processes in the gender gap in resistance to schooling (i.e., arguing with teachers, skipping class, not putting effort into school, receiving punishments at school, and coming late to class) with two-wave panel data. We expect that, compared to girls, boys are more exposed and more responsive to peers who exhibit resistant behavior. We estimate hybrid models on 5448 students from 251 school classes in Sweden (14–15 years, 49% boys), and stochastic actor-based models (SIENA) on a subsample of these data (2480 students in 98 classes; 49% boys). We find that boys are more exposed to resistant friends than girls, and that adolescents are influenced by the resistant behavior of friends. These peer processes do not contribute to a widening of the gender gap in resistance to schooling, yet they contribute somewhat to the persistence of the initial gender gap. Boys are not more responsive to the resistant behavior of friends than girls. Instead, girls are influenced more by the resistant behavior of lower status friends than boys. This explains to some extent why boys increase their resistance to schooling more over time. All in all, peer-influence and selection processes seem to play a minor role in gender differences in resistance to schooling. These findings nuance under investigated claims that have been made in the literature.