This study seeks to explain prevalent gender differences in academic achievement of 84 third-year students enrolled in a pre-service ELT (English Language Teaching) teacher training department. The study collected both qualitative and quantitative data through semi-structured interviews from a sample of 38 students. A content analysis of the data indicated that male and female trainee teachers had differentiating perceptions of social roles and, as an artefact of these roles, they differed in the quality and quantity of time and effort allocated for their academic studies. Girls reported both longer periods of time and more efficient metacognitive disposition than their male peers. Another important factor for the observed differences appeared to be the perception of teaching as a profession. Female trainee teachers reported more intrinsic orientations towards the profession whereas male trainee teachers mentioned more extrinsic orientations, which seemed to directly influence the participants' engagement with their academic endeavour.