Gender and Education In this presentation, I will discuss the impacts of formal and hidden curricula and assess their influences on the educational attainment and educational achievements of both sexes.
Gender and Education • Education as a social institution fulfills a number of key functions among which are: • Transmission of knowledge • Preparation of young people for adulthood • Preparation of adults for new roles. • It does so through formal curriculum and informal curriculum
Gender and Education • Formal Curriculum - A set of educational topics officially and explicitly taught to students. • Hidden Curriculum – The informal subtle social norms that students learn from education. • Students acquire their education in “gendered classrooms,” where official curriculum, e.g. textbooks, assignments, projects and the hidden curriculum, e.g. informal interactions with teachers and students, produce gender inequalities.
Gender and Education • Women and the “Herstory” of Education. • As many feminist scholars have stated, since 18th century in the U.S. pursuit of education and acquisition of knowledge was considered a masculine pursuit and reserved for wealthy boys and men, therefore, some male educators utilized biological determinist arguments to exclude women.
Gender and Education • Edward Clark, a Harvard professor who published several articles and books in the 1870’s warning of the dangers of educating women and educated women. • He cited examples of “pale, weak, neuralgic, hysterical, demininated” educated women. • Thus, he advised young women to study one-third of young men and not to study at all “during menstruation.”
Gender and Education • One opponent of co-education at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1890’s argued that teaching women and men in the same classrooms could be disastrous; and when the University of Michigan first debated coeducation in 1858, its president opposed it because “men will lose as women advance, we shall have a community of defeminated women and demasculated men.”
Gender and Education • Women are no longer formally barred from pursuing education and a number of reforms and educational policies, e.g. Title IX of Educational Amendments of 1972, has significantly impacted women’s education constructively. However, gender bias in education persists and women and men are taught in “gendered classrooms” “gendered curricula.” • How are students taught • The contents of educational materials
Gender and Education • Self-fulfilling prophecy – Expectations of teachers, counselors, etc. • Tracking or Streaming - Grouping students based on their perceived intellectual abilities contributes to self-fulfilling prophecy. • Stereotype Threat (Steele and Anderson) The influence of gender, class, race, ethnicity
Gender and Education • Studies have demonstrated that girls and women are often either completely ignored or are depicted in stereotypical positions in formal curricula. Some feminist scholars assert that events like the Black History month in February or Women’s History Month in March, intended to rectify the exclusion and omission and highlight the accomplishments and contributions of people long overlooked in educational curricula, in fact, marginalize and segregate.
Gender and Education In one study, when faculty were asked whether they incorporate women’s experiences and perspectives into their courses, majority said “only when they are relevant” (Renzetti and Curran). Beyond the formal curriculum, extracurricular activities also reproduce gender inequalities, e.g. boys and men’s sports typically receive greater attention and the highest school budgets.
Gender and Education • Women in Higher Education • Women, as stated previously, are no longer formally excluded from participation in higher education. At present, a majority of college students are women, however, the number of women declines, as you move up the educational hierarchy. • As the next table demonstrates, the number of women at each educational level has increased, however, as faculty, women are concentrated in the lower ranks.
Gender and Education • Furthermore, as the institutional prestige goes up, the smaller the likelihood that women will be found in the highest faculty ranks. Of extreme importance is to note how gender intersects with race and ethnicity in the ranks of faculty in higher education.
Gender and Education Elementary education has become feminized as women’s specific appropriateness with younger students; The number of women teachers decreases as students move up through educational ranks; Today, women at all ranks receive lower salaries than do men at the same rank, in the same field, in the same department.
Gender and Education • As feminist sociologists assert, the status of women and people of color in educational institutions has “important ramifications for how academic knowledge is constructed (Anderson 2009). • Epistemology is defined “as the ways of knowing that form systems of social thought.”
Gender and Education • Feminist Epistemology postulates that knowledge is socially constructed and how gender relations shape the production of thought. Feminist Epistemology focused on two key concerns, “the systems of thinking that have been derived form andocentric ways of knowing and new ways of constructing knowledge to be more inclusive of and centered in women’s experiences” (Anderson, Van Den Daele).
Gender and Education • Feminist Standpoint Theory suggests that the specific social location of the knower shapes what is known and that not all perspectives are equally valid or complete. • In her study analyzing the discussion of reproduction in contemporary biology textbooks, Emily Martin, an anthropologist, has found that sperms are still described as active, aggressive agents, while eggs are portrayed as passive.
Gender and Education Citing text authors, Martin writes that texts liken the egg’s role to that of the Sleeping Beauty: “ a dormant bride awaiting her mate’s magic kiss, which instills the spirit that brings her back to life.” Sperm, by contrast, have a “mission,” which is to move through the female genital tract in quest of the ovum.” The sperm carry out a “perilous journey into the warm darkness where some fell exhausted. Survivors assault the egg, the successful candidates surrounding the prize.”
Gender and Education The fact of the matter is that sperm do not merely penetrate a passive egg; rather, the sperm and egg stick together because of the adhesive molecule on the surface of each. Therefore, despite the knowledge to the contrary, “metaphorical descriptions of the biological reproductive process make the event seem like a contemporary soap opera or moral fable.”
Gender and Education According to Martin, the description provided by scientists have prevented them from seeing how eggs and sperm interact, thus, cultural values influence the discovery of scientific facts. This bias can also impact choice of topic, research methods, definitions of concepts, and of course, interpretation of data and applications of findings.
Gender and Education • Feminist Standpoint Theory argues that women’s specific location in patriarchal societies is actually a resource in construction of new knowledge (Harding and Collins). • We should also note that much of the gender difference in college attendance and completion, is what sociologist Cynthia Epstein calls a “deceptive distinction.”
Gender and Education • Overall the number of males enrolled in college rose by 33% from 1970 to 2,000. However, female enrollments rose much faster-143%. Many top colleges and universities have higher male enrollments, e.g. Princeton, 53%, Yale 51%, MIT 52%.
Gender and Education Furthermore, there are gender disparities in nursing, social work, or education, traditionally far lower paid occupations than those professions where men still predominate, such as engineering and computer sciences.
Gender and Education The shortage of male college students is actually, as Sociologist Michael Kimmel points out, appears to be about gender but is actually about class and race. The gender gap between college-age white males and white females is rather small. However, only 36% of low income black college students are male and only 39% of low-income Hispanic students are male.
Gender and Education There are various studies that have investigated the effect of gender composition of a college has on men and women. Linda Sax, a UCLA professor of higher education has examined data from 17,000 students at 204 four-year colleges.
Gender and Education Her preliminary findings show that on campuses that were predominantly female, both men and women got higher grades. “Predominantly female campuses also let a significant increase in men’s commitment to promotion of racial understanding and led males to more liberal views on abortion, homosexuality, and other social issues.”
Gender and Education As Kimmel asserts, “gender inequalities in education produces the gender differences we assume, with deleterious consequences for both genders; it impairs both boys’ and girls, men’s and women’s efforts to find their voices, discipline their minds, and prepare them for their futures.