Examining female achievement as a function of social capital

Mary Ann Wallace, University of Texas at El Paso


This study seeks to illuminate everyday ways in which relationships with teachers, friendship groups and familial influences generate social capital. Specifically, how does that capital positively shape females in terms of their success and academic achievement? Social capital and caring are the theories framing this study. Social capital as described by social scientist James Coleman (1988) is the result of social network, which ultimately provides resources to individuals within the group. The experiences, networks, relationships and resources developed in the secondary school setting that contribute to the bank of social capital for females are important indicators of female success. Also embedded in this study is the question of caring—that is, what are the elements of care afforded female students? Literature on caring and education strongly suggest schools foster authentic caring. Nel Noddings' (1984) philosophy of caring is an important perspective to consider when examining achievement. This study employs a qualitative research methodology known as portraiture (Lawrence-Lightfoot, 1997). Female achievement is explored through portraiture interviewing techniques and artifact examination. The results of this study identified several highly productive forms of social capital generated within the female participant's secondary schooling experience. Evidence suggests meaningful relationship development with teachers and students along with purposeful, authentic care-giving helped contribute to the participant's success during and after high school. The study provides those interested in progressive education and innovative schooling practices a glimpse into a social capital-rich, nurturing secondary schooling learning community. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Wallace, Mary Ann, "Examining female achievement as a function of social capital" (2004). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAIEP10615.