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An Analysis of Undergraduate Writing Styles in the Context of Gender and Achievement

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Despite the increased use of blind-marking in undergraduate examinations, gendered patterns persist in the figures on achievement at undergraduate level in British universities. It has been suggested that in the humanities, such differences in achievement might be explained by differences in writing style according to gender. This article examines data drawn from an analysis of undergraduate students' writing in order to investigate the extent to which gender appears to impact upon their writing styles. It is argued that male and female students' academic writing styles shared more similarities than they did differences. There was no evidence to suggest that there was less use of tentative phrases in male writing, although there was some evidence to suggest that a bold style was adopted slightly more frequently by men. It is argued that the adoption of an academic style which overrides some traditionally gendered traits in writing may be particularly highly rewarded by examiners.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2001

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