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  • 1. CHAPTER 8: GENDER COMMUNICATION IN EDUCATION By Manica Hing CMS 498 Summer 2013
  • 2. INTRODUCTION  Education has a crucial role in creating and maintaining gender/sex identities, relationships, and inequalities and is influenced by the predominant beliefs, values, and norms, of society.  Therefore, knowledge through education is not value free.  Oppressions related gender/sex, race, class, and sexual orientation exists in educational settings.
  • 3. A BRIEF HISTORY  During the early 1800s, British public schools taught boys how to be ruling-class men.  In regards to women’s education, before the 1900s, only White women from wealthy families could get a higher education.  In the early 1900s, education became accessible to people other than White, upper-class boys and girls, such as poor people and racial/ethnic minorities.
  • 4. EDUCATION AS A SOCIAL INSTITUTION  The institution of education continues to teach gender/sex after a long history of related practices.  Today, gender/sex assumptions, such as sex- based brain differences, remain part of the curriculum but in the form of the hidden curriculum.  The hidden curriculum refers to educational practices that implicitly assume a White, male, middle-class standard for both the teachers and the learners.
  • 5. INTERLOCKING INSTITUTIONS  Education has influence outside of the classroom. The institution of education influences work, government, family, and media. These institutions influences each other, including the institution of education.  For example, in the U.S., it is believed that more education is linked to more/better job opportunities.  Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendment Act makes it illegal for schools that are funded by the government to discriminate on the basis of sex.  The law made a major difference in that it required schools to offer more equal opportunities for both females and males. One of the results is that more girls are participatingin sports.
  • 6. IT’S NOT ABOUT SEX DIFFERENCE  Epistemology is the study of knowledge. How do humans know what they claim to know?  The institution of education acknowledges information or “truths” that are consistent with predominant beliefs.  Knowledge is perceived. Education contributes to knowledge construction by influencing the way people think.  People have different thinking processes and therefore acquire knowledge in different ways.  Intellectual development processes can be gendered/sexed, classed, and raced.
  • 7. TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR INTERACTIONS  Children are commonly separated by teachers and administrators by sex.  Sex segregation occurs in the classroom, in the halls (boys and girls standing in separate lines to go to the cafeteria), and on the playgrounds.  Teachers have the tendency to divide the class by sex for educational and extracurricular activities. This practice also poses a problem for transgender and intersex children, who do not know which side of the divide to go to and have the teacher decide for them.  Sex division encourages boys and girls to view each other as opponents. It also reinforces the notion that boys and girls are different.  Children constantly learn about gender differences from teachers and administrators, but most of the lessons are given implicitly.
  • 8. SPORTS  Sports are seen as opportunities for boys to perform their bodies into masculinity. By participating in sports, boys intrinsically learn how to exert their bodies to convey dominance, power, and strength.  For girls, participation in sports helps build character, confidence, and competence.  However, due to the predominant cultural perception of athleticism as a measure of masculinity, girl athletes tend to feel the pressure to maintain their feminine identity by putting on makeup, doing their hair, painting their nails etc.  Sports can be liberating for both boys and girls. Although, school sports have been and continue to be sex segregated.
  • 9. EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS  Gender/sex bias is also in educational materials including textbooks and assigned literature.  Textbooks primarily focused on the accomplishments of White men and often ignored the contributions of women and minorities.  Educational texts also commonly portrayed men and women in traditional gender roles. Typically, men were associated with careers and possessed masculine qualities, such as aggressiveness and competitiveness, and women were often associated with relational maintenance or caretaker of children and were more likely to be described as being affectionate and caring.  In terms of literature, stories with male characters as the protagonists are more prevalent in the curriculum than stories with females or racial minorities as the main characters. This is evident in a range of texts, from children’s storybooks to novels read in high school.  Textual representationsof gender/sex becomes more balanced at the college level.
  • 10. CURRICULA  Curriculum is also gendered.  Cultural perceptions of masculinity and femininity have influenced the gendering of subjects. For example, home economics is a subject that is considered a feminine domain because the classes involve activities that are associated with femininity, such as cooking and sewing.  Literature and language arts classes are also seen as more on the feminine side of the gendered education spectrum compared to classes such as industrial shop classes, which are seen as masculine. Mathematics and science are also seen as masculine subjects.  Gendered curriculum sends the message that boys are better in math and science and girls are better at reading and writing, and therefore to increase the probability of success, boys and girls should be encouraged in their respective subject areas.
  • 11. HIGHER EDUCATION  Discrimination based on gender/sex are not just experienced by students. There is also a gender gap in the number of women and minority faculty. They also experience discrimination as they are in a profession that is dominated by White men.  Women and minority faculty often face challenges and obstacles when it comes to employment opportunities, promotions, and positive evaluations from both administrators and students.  Students, in particular, tend to be more critical of female and minority professors than White male professors.  Traditionally, good professorship is associated with masculinity. Thus both women and men professors who are perceived as feminine have more difficulty being credited as good professors.
  • 12. GENDER/SEX GAPS  The gender gap in education alludes to the gender wars metaphor. Gender differences induces gender battles.  The results of a national survey indicated that many girls received less attention from their teachers than boys did, and yet according to other sources, boys often receive harsher punishments for school misconduct than girls. Boys are also suspended more often than girls and are more likely to get involved in crime, alcohol, and drugs.  Despite the lack of attention from teachers, girls tend to do better in school than boys, especially when it comes to reading and writing. There are also more women in college than men. Women now represent over half of college students in the U.S.  Intersecting factors, such as race and class, also have influence on boys’ poor behaviors and academic performance.  The economic condition of a school also affects the quality of education students receive. Financially healthy schools can purchase improved educational materials, facilities, etc. which can lead to better education.
  • 13. SINGLE-SEX EDUCATION  Single-Sex education refers to educational programs in which male and female students are taught separately.  Ex. Students can attend either an “all- boys” school or an “all-girls” school.  One of the objectives of single-sex education is to help students with social issues, such as low-self-esteem, drugs, teen pregnancy, and gang violence. Students also do not have the distractionof attraction. In other words, students do not have to be concern about being attractive to receive attention from the other sex, which permits them to focus in the classroom.  Catherine McAuley High School (Portland, Maine): The All-Girl Advantage?: http://www.mcauleyhs.org/about- mcauley/the-all-girl-advantage .
  • 14. SINGLE-SEX EDUCATION (CONT.)  However, single-sex education also assumes that males and females think differently due to differences in the structures of the brain and therefore require different learning approaches in order to maximize their educational experience.  Other Issues With Single-Sex Education:  Single-sex education assumes that sex equals gender, and all girls are feminine and all boys are masculine.  Higher academic performance is not just due to the sex segregation. Instead, improved learning is due to a number of factors including improvement in teaching strategies, smaller class sizes, and more access to extracurricular activities.  Single-sex education also essentializes gender/sex and does not recognize it as an issue, which is a problem in of itself. It also reinforces gender stereotypes.  Also, school is suppose to prepare individuals for the “real world” and the world is not single- sexed!
  • 15. PEER PRESSURE  Boys and girls have a tendency to group themselves based on sex, race, and class, even when playing a game together like kickball or foursquare.  Boys participate in more physical activities because boys are taught to exert their bodies as part of their gender performance. Girls, on the other hand, participate in more lenient activities, such as jump rope, because girls are taught to guard their bodies, which perceptually limits their options.  Within their same-sex groups, boys pressure each other into masculinity and girls pressure each other into femininity.  Sadly, children who do not conform to gender and/or group expectations are often ridiculed and subjected to name-calling (i.e. sissy, gay)  Peer pressure heightens as children become adolescents. Middle and high school students often feel intense pressure to become part of a group.  School culture perceives that having a girlfriend/boyfriend boosts one’s status among peers. For some, attractiveness becomes a priority. Such attentiveness, particularly for girls, sometimes leads to low body image, which can then lead to eating disorders.
  • 16. BULLYING  Bullyingcan be defined as “physical, psychological,and/or verbal intimidation or attack that is meant to cause and/or harm to an intended victim”(190).  An estimated 20%-30% of students experience bullying in a given school year (190).  Bullies tend to be males and often come from troubled families, especially when they come from a home where they are exposed to drugs or alcohol.  Also, children who have witnessed physical violence at home are more likely to become bullies and be more physical in their bullying of others. Those who have been bullied may also become bullies themselves.  Anti-bullying laws and school policies have been established across the country in an effort to stop bullying, although more research is needed to create more effective laws/policies.  Unfortunately, it usually takes a tragedy to call attention to the negative effects of bullying (e.g. Columbine High School)
  • 17. SEXUAL HARASSMENT  Sexual harassment refers to unwanted or unwelcome sexual advances/behaviors.  The results of a study found that 4 out 5 students from grades 8-11 (85% of girls and 75% o f boys) have experienced some form of sexual harassment (191).  Girls and racial minorities are more likely to experience sexual harassment than White males. Homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender students are also more likely to be harassed than heterosexual students.  A major problem is that most students view harassment as “normal” and so most incidents do not get reported., which is worrisome because unwarranted bullying and sexual harassment can evolve into violent criminality and domestic violence.  Victims of bullying/harassment have exhibited self-destructivebehaviors, such as experimentation with drugs, sexual promiscuity, and cutting. Some have even committed suicide.
  • 18. SEXUAL VIOLENCE ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES  Sexual violence includes sexual assault, stalking, verbal and visual victimization (ex. crude sexual comments, sexist remarks) and stalking.  Researchers predict that between 1/5 and 1/4 of college women will be victims of sexual assault (193).  In approximately 90% of the cases of sexual assault the victims knew their attackers (AAUW). Therefore, sexual assault by a stranger is relatively rare.  Alcohol abuse is a common factor in incidences of sexual violence. At least half of all violent crimes involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim, or both (193). Alcohol has also been used as an excuse to make attackers seem less accountable for their actions and places more of the blame on their victims.
  • 19. EMANCIPATORY EDUCATION  Gendered education is oppressive and constrains gender identities.  Bias tied to gender/sex as well as race, class, and sexual orientation also limits the educational curriculumand contribute to social inequalities.  Teaching strategies should accommodate multiple perspectives and recognize the complexities of the students’ identities.  Educational liberation requires us to eliminate bias in order to emancipate and enhance education.  Suggestions  Uphold a gender-sensitive model in which girls and boys can learn to appreciate one another and work together.  Adopt a gender-relevant model in which misconstrued gender assumptions are directly addressed by the teachers in attempt to dispel them.  Promote interactive learning. Teachers and students should become more involved in the material by relating it to personal experiences. This alternative method makes both educators and students feel more connected to the material.  Teach educational materials with sex-inclusive language.
  • 20. REFERENCES  DeFrancisco, Victoria P., and Catherine Helen Palczewski. Communicating Gender Diversity: a Critical Approach. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2007. Print.  Catherine McAuley High School | All Girls Private School | College Preparatory – Portland, Maine. N.p., n.d http://www.mcauleyhs.org/.  “AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881.” AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.aauw.org.  Google Images