Gendered Discrimination in Education - Implications for teachers and impact on learners


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  • Gendered discrimination isn’t something we can pluck out of thin air and say that it leads to the inequalities that we see in society today. There is much to consider when looking at this topic.This is how I constructed my definition of what it actually means.Gender hegemony is our inbuilt attitudes, values and perceptions that inform our actions – without us actually knowing it. It is an implicit influence on the actions and choices we make. These beliefs and attitudes are sometimes recognised and sometimes not. They are sometimes explicitly acted upon and sometimes not.This can then influence the preference we show or the expectations we have of or the different treatment we show to those of a particular gender – gendered discrimination.This in turn can influence our, and those around us’ understanding of what is appropriate and not for those of a particular sex; developing their stereotypes, expectations and reinforcing or creating specific patterns or paths.This influences how they go on to act, the choices they make and the construction of their identity.This is then manifested through the inequalities, imbalances and discriminatory practices we see in society and thus it starts all over again.
  • This wasdifferentpapers, magazines and articles from one week, and withinit, I wasamazed how muchgenderdominated media and political attention. It clearlyisexemplified in all facets of society.
  • If you took the time to critically analyse the role that gender patterns, stereotypes and discriminatory practices are manifested throughout our education system, you would see a great deal. It may appear positive, but is that because it is just commonly accepted that it is for the good – have we taken the time to analyse such discriminatory practices?Still gendered inequalities in educational outcomes and economic and political power (NESSE, 2009).This can hinders a child’s organic development if we continue to reinforce the linear paths of what is expected of a male and a female, and can confine them to the gendered norms, rather than allowing them to grow and develop into who they want to be (Hutchings, M., et al., 2008). It is clearly a Scottish Government Priority, exemplified in their review of gender imbalance in achievement, and (SEED, 2001), Gender Equality Scheme 2008-2011; or in effect an action plan. Despite the progress made, there is still much to do (Scottish Government, 2008). - who we have teaching (Ashley, 2009), (Dee, 2005), (Hutchings, et al. 2007)- how they are teaching and the context they are working in (Paechter, 2006), (Kutnick & Jules, 1997), (Liu & Meng, 2009)- what they are teaching(SEED, 2001), (Brint, et al. 2001), (Stromquist, 2007), (Best, et al. 2000)
  • So we need to consider identity construction, gendered patterns in education, the implications it has for children, young people and society, and the implications this has in the current Scottish policy context. Therefore we need to consider our teachers, the context they are working in, the approaches they use and the curriculum; hidden, formal and wider.
  • So, in my study, I aim to:To look at how and why gendered stereotypes are manifested through approaches to the hidden curriculum and how this is related to who we have teaching and the relationship this has to our individual practice.I also want to find out the extent to which this issue is actually problematized in the current Scottish policy context and whether or not current developments are sufficiently radical to address the issue.
  • My justification for the study is:As a hetro-sexual male, it isn’t a typical profession for me to have chosen, or a topic for my major project for that matter. This is because of the stigma that is placed against you for entering a feminised profession – something I experienced from peers at school, family and teachers (which disappointed me the most). Professionally, it is clear that our attitudes, values and behaviours inform all that we do. Because it has been an issue in our education system and society, there has been a lot of legislation and policies to try and address the issue that haven’t had the desired impact.This has implications for what is supposed to be a broad, balanced curriculum, with meaningful, equal and sustained outcomes for all. The review of teacher education and teacher employment has implications for those we have teaching, the development process they go through, the conditions and contexts they are working in, and opportunities for career progression.It is an issue that is already highly politicised at a national, UK and international context. The pursuit of equality, and the end of gendered discrimination is a matter of education justice, but in a wider context, it is imperative for social justice for all. It ensures meaningful experiences, outcomes and sustained opportunities for those in education and beyond.
  • My key questions that informed my literature review are looking at how children are socialised into the cultural, societal gendered norms that influence the construction of their gendered identity and their own self-perceptions; specifically the role that teachers have to play in this.Then I also wanted to find out how the hidden curriculum that the children experience actually reinforces or reproduces gendered patters we see prevalent in society and the impact this has on children’s experience in education and their future choices and opportunities.
  • The main influence in the Scottish policy context currently, on teachers and teaching is the McCormac, Donaldson reports and CfE. So this is the structure I was taking of my literature review in line with the current policy context we are in.
  • So despite improvement in equality when it comes to attainment, there are still huge differences in future outcomes and the powerful roles men and women hold.Despite teachers commonly believing that they treat children equally, ¾ in one study, and in correlation with many other studies, this ¾ believed that they should and did respond to children differently based on gender because of perceived differences in interests, abilities and temperaments between the sexes.But, we need to think about, what are these stereotypes based on, and are they relevant at all in our modern, forward thinking and diverse society. We have changed, society has changed and so has peoples thinking.
  • Gender identity construction has a strong correlation with the hidden curriculum – meaning the relationships, messages and actions teacher’sexhibitimplicitly in the day to dayclassroomexperience.People believe what they perceive and act upon what they believe – so perception and socialised attitudes, cultural expectations, and even common understandings have a massive role to play – core components of the hidden curriculum. These can be components of how teachers act, but also how children/peers ‘guard’ certain stereotypes.
  • What part of society do our teachers actually represent. Is it mainly anything other than white, middle-class Christians in all honesty? Apperance has an unexpected impact.How we construct the curriculum can have a big impact on the paths children take and also what they experience, how they experience it and the attitudes and understandings that this develops. The context and approaches teachers are using is vitally important because this, through the hidden curriculum, is how teachers communicate their expectations, attitudes, perceptions and beliefs. The impact we have cannot be underestimated.‘We need more male role models!’ - Why? Says who?Society’s and children’s perception of a good teacher – based on experience already.
  • Just as we cannot underestimate the influence we have on children’s lives and identity construction, we cannot underestimate the impact and influence each of the current development in education policy is having on the education debate, but also the implications this will have for the wider Scottish policy context.These will have an impact and bearing on how the issue of gendered discrimination is addressed now and in the future. The who? The how? And the what?
  • So, to focus my research, I plan to look at, as discussed, the who? The what? And the how?How is the issue problematized in the current policy context? How do recent development and reforms address gendered discrimination and subsequent inequalities and how does this relate to recommendations from the literature.Then fundamentally, is it possible to have fundamental systemic change to address the issue in the current context we are in.
  • The ethical implications of doing class based research and the research capabilities that would have been required meant an empirical research project using policy based data was most appropriate.Classroom based empirical research with a group of children would not have allowed me to gain the insight and analysis required for validity, reliability or to reach the desired outcomes of the project.
  • We cannot underestimate the influence and power we have in children’s lives. Our attitudes, our values, our behaviour patterns, even, our stereotypes underpin all we do. Reflect on these, critically, because: Everyday, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.
  • Gendered Discrimination in Education - Implications for teachers and impact on learners

    2. 2. CONTENTS/STRUCTURE• Purpose• Justification• Key Questions• Literature Findings• Research Methodology
    3. 3. GENDERED DISCRIMINATION (SEED, 2001; Paechter, 2006; Brint, et al. 2001; Kum, et al. 2010) Gendered Inequalities, Imbalances, Inequities manifested across 5 society.People’s understanding and attitudes towards these norms influence 4 actions, decisions, choices and development of identity. Understanding of norms (not necessarily accurate) regarding gender developed:- 3 stereotypes, expectations, patterns, the usual…Preference offered to…Expectation placed upon…  Those of a particular gender 2Different treatment of… (GENDERED DISCRIMINATION) Inbuilt beliefs and attitudes to what are gender norms – Implicitly and explicitly recognised. 1 Implicitly and explicitly acted upon.
    5. 5. PURPOSE• Gender stereotypes and discrimination embedded throughout education; curriculum , teachers, relationships, establishment (NESSE, 2009).• Manifested through preferences, attainment and qualitative experiences - influencing greatly their attitudes and future choices (Tinklin et al. 2001).• Impacts gender identity construction, sense of self often through a process of socialisation -people, institutions, settings etc. (Stromquist, 2007; Hutchings, M., et al., 2008)• It impacts everyone; be it their attitudes, understandings or opportunities (Blossfield & Shavit,1993).• Still a pertinent issue in, not just Scottish society, but also in Scottish education (SEED, 2001; Scottish Government, 2008).• Who has impact on children’s experience at school (who, what and where?) – teachers. - who we have teaching - how they are teaching and the context they are working in - what they are teaching
    6. 6. WHAT NEEDS CONSIDERED?• Gender identity construction• Gendered patterns and Teachers inequalities in education Context/approach• Impact on children and young people + society Curriculum• Implications for the current policy context
    7. 7. AIMS• Discover what the literature has to say about how and why gendered stereotypes are made manifest through approaches to the hidden curriculum as well as the teaching workforce, and how this is related to individual practice.• Establish the extent to which the issue of gendered discrimination is problematised in the current Scottish policy context, and whether these policies relating to teachers, teaching and the curriculum are sufficiently radical to address this issue.
    8. 8. JUSTIFICATION• Personal Relevance - ‘Non traditional’ career choice (Smyth, et al, 2011). - Stigma attached to entering a ‘female dominated profession’ (Burn, 2001). - Challenging the commonly accepted ‘norms’ (Brint, et al, 2001).• Professional Relevance - attitudes, values, behaviour patterns, inform all we do (Stromquist, 2007). - Legislative and curricular changes haven’t had the intended impact (Paechter, 2006) (NESSE, 2009). - Curriculum for Excellence – positive, meaningful, sustained outcomes for all (Scottish Government, 2008). - Review of Teacher Education – the make up of the profession (Donaldson, 2010). - Review of Teacher Employment – professional roles and responsibilities (McCormac, 2011).• Future Relevance - Already a highly politicised issue (Pech, 2011), (Randall, 2011). - Matter of educational and social justice (NESSE, 2009). - Meaningful experience, outcomes and opportunities in education, and beyond (Tinklin et al. 2001).
    9. 9. KEY QUESTIONS (LITERATURE)1. What is the role of the socialisation process in children’s constructions of their own self-perception in relation to gender and what role do teachers and schools have in this process?2. How does the hidden curriculum that children experience reinforce or reproduce gendered patterns in society, and what impact does this have on children’s experiences and outcomes?
    10. 10. LITERATURE REVIEWMy proposed structure for the literature review (key themes) prior tomy empirical research of the documents central to the currentScottish policy context (Donaldson, McCormac and CfE) is:1. The gendered nature of education.2. Gender hegemony: - Socialisation, - Reinforcement and - Gendered Patterns3. The Teachers Role: - Who teaches? - What do they teach? - How do they teach it?
    11. 11. 1. THE GENDERED NATURE OF EDUCATION• Despite a decrease in the inequality between boys and girls when it comes to attainment, there are still massive differences between the political and economic power that men and women hold (NESSE, 2009, Scottish Government, 2008, Stromquist, 2007).• Even although teacher believe they treat children fairly and justly, ¾ in one study believed they should and did respond differently to pupils according to their gender (Skelton & Read, 2006).• Perceived differences in interests, abilities, temperaments, learning styles (!?) patterns of emotional development; therefore different needs in the classroom.But if these are based on traditional stereotypes, are they relevant in today’s advanced, different, diverse society? Our thinking has changed and is changing constantly.
    12. 12. 2. GENDER IDENTITY CONSTRUCTION- SocialisationPerception informs beliefs and beliefs inform actions; so there are implications forexperiences and outcomes (Jules, et al, 1997).Our behaviour and thinking is a product of socialisation. We also learn from this whatis appropriate and inappropriate for both genders (Crespi, 2004).- ReinforcementThe teachers we have and how they teach influences the attitudes andunderstandings that children develop (Hutchings, et al., 2008).Expectations we place on children of a particular sex (our firm notions of whatoutcomes will be from males or females; academic, behaviour, career) lead todifferent opportunities for these children (Stromquist, 2007).- Gendered PatternsOften ‘guarded’ by peers (Stromquist, 2007).Subject, activity choice when there is the opportunity; attainment; careeropportunities (SEED, 2001).Doesn’t cater for those who don’t ‘fit in’ with the norms and can be a negativeexperience for them when they do challenge them.
    13. 13. 3. THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER- Who teaches?Our teaching workforce do not represent our diverse society (Kum, et al. 2010; Smyth, et al.2011).The appearance of the workforce impacts children and societies perceptions of teachers(Jules & Kutnick, 1997; Kum, et al. 2010).- What do they teach?Curriculum construction, make up and flexibility can influence children’s choices, paths andopportunities (Riddel, 1992)Children believe what they perceive to be true (socialised, inferred based on experience)and act upon this (Jules & Kutnick, 1997).- How do they teach it?All communication is educative.Through how we communicate in the hidden curriculum, (our aims, aspirations, beliefs,common understandings) we reinforce to children the societal and cultural norms thatmake us and our communities who we are.(Dewey, 1916; Wilkinson, 2003).Teachers’ understanding of childrens needs based on gender (Stromquist, 2007).
    15. 15. KEY QUESTIONS (RESEARCH)1. How do current policy developments in Scottish education problematize the issue of gender inequalities or discrimination?2. How do current reforms and initiatives intend to address the issue of gendered discrimination and how does this relate to the literature?3. Would it be possible for the current policy context to allow for fundamental systemic influence on addressing the issue of gendered discrimination?
    16. 16. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY (Thomas, 2009; Bell, 2010; Mills, 2001)Ethical implications of class based research; capabilities and access that would have beenrequired meant:- empirical research project using policy based data is most appropriate.Focus is issue in the context of teachers and teaching and implications for learning and teaching.Problem/issue orientated analysis of documentary evidence using primary and secondaryresources.There isnt time to analyse every possible document when researching the issue; need to beselective in choice.Qualitative and quantitative data. Supporting Data from documents consultations
    17. 17. A FINAL THOUGHT… ‘Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet;Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.’ W.B. Yeats (1865–1939) "He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven" from the Collected Works of W.B. Yeats
    18. 18. REFERENCESAshley, M. (2009). ‘I want a boy teacher’ – so any man will do? Retrieved from, J. (2010). Doing your research project. Open University Press, Maidenhead.Blossfeld, H. P. & Shavit, Y. (1993). Persisting Barriers. In Persisting Inequalities – Changing educational attainment in thirteen countries. WestviewPress, Boulden, CO, US.Brint, S. Contreras, M. F. & Matthews, M. T. (2001) Socialization Messages in Primary Schools: An Organizational Analysis. In Sociology ofEducation. 74(3), pp. 157-180.Burn, E. (2001) Do boys need male primary teachers as positive role models? Paper presented to the British Educational Research AssociationAnnual Conference.Crespi, I. (2004) Socialization and gender roles within the family: a study on adolescents and their parents in Great Britain. Retrieved from:, T. S., (2005) A Teacher Like Me: Does Race, Ethnicity, or Gender Matter? American Economic Review, 95(2), 158-165.Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education. Retrieved from:, G. (2010) Teaching Scotland’s Future: A report on the review of teacher education in Scotland. Retrieved from:, M., Carrington, B., Francis, B., Skelton, C., Read, B. & Hall, I. (2008). Nice and kind, smart and funny: what children like and want toemulate in their teachers. In Oxford Review of Education. 34(2), pp. 135-157.Jules, V. & Kutnick, P. (1997) Student perceptions of a good teacher: the gender perspective. In British Journal of Educational Psychology.67, pp. 487-511.Kum, H., Menter, I. & Smyth, G. (2010) Changing the face of the Scottish teaching profession? The experiences of refugee teachers. In IrishEducational Studies. 29: (3), pp. 321-338.Liu, S. & Meng, L. (2009) Perceptions of teachers, students and parents of the characteristics of good teachers: a cross-cultural comparison ofChina and the United States. In Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability. (21), 313-328.McCormac, G. (2011) Advancing Professionalism in Teaching; A report on the review of teacher employment in Scotland. Retrieved from:
    19. 19. REFERENCES CTD.Mills, G. E. (2011). Action Research: A Guide for the Teacher Researcher. Pearson, London.NESSE, (2009). Gender and Education. Retrieved from:, C. (2006). Reconceptualising the gendered body: learning and constructing masculinities and femininities in school. InGender and Education. 18(2), pp. 121-135.Pech, M. E. (2011). Where Did All the Male Teachers Go? France Worries That Boy Students May Be Suffering. Retrieved from:,8599,2093252,00.html#ixzz1e3IMpBfzRandall, C. (2011, November 11). President wants profession to man up. Times Educational Supplement Scotland, p. 11.Scottish Government. (2008). Curriculum for Excellence. Scottish Government, Edinburgh.Scottish Government. (2008). Gender Equality Scheme 2008-2011. Retrieved from: Gender and Pupil Performance in Scotland’s Schools. Retrieved from:, C. & Read, B. (2006). Male and female teachers’ evaluative responses to gender and the implications of these for thelearning environments of primary age pupils. In International Studies in Sociology of Education. 16(2), pp. 105-120.Smyth, G., Corrigan, A., Mohammed, K. & McAdam, J. (2011) Diverse teaching in Scotland’s Diverse Future: These Students allseem the same. Presented at the ‘Teacher Education and Teacher’s Work’ conference, June 2011.Stromquist, N. P. (2007) The Gender Socialization Process in Schools: A Cross-National Comparison. Retrieved from:, G. (2009) How to do your research project. Sage Publications, London.Wilkinson, J. E. (2003). Early childhood education: The new agenda. Dunedin Academic Press, Edinburgh.