For the last 6 years when giving an assignment to a group of students (approx. 40 % boys, 60% girls), I have been facing the same situation. I got really nice projects from 90% female students, with a thorough literature search, well-balanced discussion, nice illustrations etc. Girls were also great at seeking feedback when preparing for the exam and writing individual projects (they also ended up getting in average 30-45% higher grades then boys).
And I never see a similar work style by male students. N E V E R. What do they do instead? First, boys send a max 1 page with illustration and idea description ONLY when they are pushed to do it. Then they get my feedback, say “Aha”, disappear for a month or two and show up with a ready assignment. It is usually good! Not too many words, not too few. Just enough to explain what they think.
Another case. Once I had a really good chemistry student who was getting tired of writing reaction schemes in the assignment when they were repeating or too simple. He just got bored and submitted reports without actually finishing anything:)
So why boys don't want to do a homework? May be because they prioritize one thing at a time, and sometimes that’s not my course? (1-2) Or maybe because they don’t feel they need it to learn? (2) Also, may be boys have less need to live up to expectations? (3) Most likely, all of it, and much more! (4)
Overall, I think it is great to get talented works from both genders and see that, yes, they are different, but good! But most importantly, I don’t think that we shall set up criteria for evaluation and learning expectations based on one gender’s preferences:) So that everyone is being heard.
1 Erica A. Wehrwein, Heidi L. Lujan, Stephen E. DiCarlo. “Gender differences in learning style preferences among undergraduate physiology students”. Advances in Physiology Education 2007 Vol. 31 no. 2, 153-157.
2. For example, Costello, Joseph T.; Bieuzen, Francois; Bleakley, Chris M. "Where are all the female participants in Sports and Exercise Medicine research?". European Journal of Sport Science 2014, 14 (8): 847–851.
3 Fine, Cordelia (2010). Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference. W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-06838-2.
4 Udry, J. Richard. "The Nature of Gender" Demography 1994, 31 (4): 561–573.