4.3.1.2 The distribution of the floor in single-sex groups

There were three single-sex girls' groups (Groups IV, V, and VII) in my sample, and one single-sex boys' group (Group II). From the literature, the typical structure of all- girls' groups appears to be non- hierarchical, and therefore might be expected to have more-or-less equal participation from all group members, while boys' groups are more likely to establish a hierarchy in which the most dominant boy talks the most, and his subordinates talk less. Again , these patterns were not confirmed by my data.

There was only one all-boys' group, Group II, in my sample, so no great claims can be made on the basis of the boys concerned. The two participants, B3 and B4, both contributed relatively little. While B3 did talk more than B4, there were no signs of either boy competing for the floor as neither seemed keen to talk.

In the all-girls' groups, there was one example of profoundly unequal levels of contribution, and two of fairly equal levels of contribution. In Group IV, the four group members (G5, G6, G7, G8) spoke to vastly differing degrees. G5 and G6 spoke considerably more than G7 and G8; G8 hardly spoke at all. This group appeared to be hierarchically structured in this respect (and in other respects). G9 and G10 in Group V shared the floor with greater equality, although G9 did talk more than G10. In Group VII, G13, G14, and G15 shared the floor with a greater degree of equality than any of the other groups. The differences between the relative amounts of time speakers in these two groups held the floor were small, compared with other groups in the study.

There was one striking case of equal floor distribution amongst girls in Group VII. However, Group IV provided a strong counter-example, in which there was very unequal distribution of the floor amongst four girls, and the other discussions, mixed- and single-sex, did not provide evidence for boys competing for the floor to a greater extent than girls, or girls being more concerned with the equal distribution of the floor than boys.


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