Providing a definition of gender as it pertains to curriculum is a multi-faceted,
complex and loaded issue.
For our purposes, Hank Green provides a good working definition and some
good advice regarding the impact of understanding.
Why should educators bother with social issues
connected to gender?
Gender has consistently been at the center of schooling and education (Pinar
et al, 2000, p. 359)
Democratic schooling is impossible unless educators consider and address
challenging social movements that could result in cultural change (Gaskell,
2004. p. 308)
Our codes of ethics demand that teachers treat students with respect and
dignity while keeping their individual rights at the forefront
“To ignore these concerns is to reinforce dominant exclusionary ideologies,”
(Bickmore, 2002, p. 1).
An understanding of gender issues will promote good citizenship:
“Most teachers teach about conflict and wars, and accept bullying on the
playground, or sexual harassment in the hallways, while they think of
themselves as desiring peace,” (McIntosh, 2013, p. 348)
“Education that emphasizes the imperfect relationships among women and
men, including their mutual responsibilities and the social structures of
unequal power that help to shape their individual choices, is good social
studies and good citizenship education,” (Bickmore, 2002, p. 8)
How can educators tackle these issues?
Increase gender equality training for school administrators and school
inspectors so that administrators are committed to practices which promote
gender equality (CIDA, 2010, p. 20)
Ensure that those who are creating curriculum are capable of identifying
gender bias and that they integrate gender equality into documents (CIDA,
Any change should involve the entire community because these changes
are “entwined in everybody’s practice of social exclusion and citizenship”
(Bickmore, 2004, p. 6)
Yes, but what can teachers really do?
Recognize that “we all play a part in opening or closing the citizenship
gate, defining in practice who is included in ‘us’,” and that by remaining
silent on the topic of gender equality, you are in fact complicit in the
perpetuation of inequality (Bickmore, 2002, p. 10).
Become aware of the ways that you might be unwittingly contributing to
student’s perceptions regarding gender.
Recognize our responsibility to promote human dignity and that this
responsibility entails truly seeing the disenfranchised and creating a
space that not only tolerates but celebrates all students (Pinar et al,
2000, p. 397).
Understand that problems related to sexism are inextricably linked to
heterosexism, racism, and all other ‘isms’ seen within our society. These all
cause our students to feel dis-empowered, unsafe and unable to learn
(Bickmore, 2002, p. 1)
Understand the ways the prescribed gender system “forms and deforms us”
and how this leads to determining who we are as citizens and caring people
in the world (Pinar et al, 2000, p. 403)
Bring this understanding to the classroom
Bickmore, K. (2002). How might social education resist (hetero)sexism? Facing the impact of gender and sexual
ideology on citizenship. Theory and Research in Social Education, 30:2, 1-15.
Canadian International Development Agency. (2010). Education: Gender equality. Retrieved from http:
Gaskell, J. (2004). Educational change and the women's movement: lessons from British Columbia schools in
the 1970s. Educational Policy, 18(2), 291-310.
McIntosh, P. (2013). Gender Perspectives on Educating for Global Citizenship. In D. J. Flinders & S. J. Thornton
(Eds.), The curriculum studies reader (4th ed., pp. 19-31). New York: RoutledgeFalmer
Pinar, W. F., Reynolds, W. M., Slattery, P., & Taubman, P. M. (2004). Understanding curriculum as gender text.
In Pinar, W.F. (Ed.), Understanding curriculum (pp. 358-403). New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.