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Breaking the Masculine Image of Physics 
Dr. Lalit Kishore 
68 – Jai Jawan Colony (III), Jaipur – 302 018 
lalit_culp@redi...
Brief Literature Overview 
As far as the cognitive learning is concerned, it is a well- established fact now that 
there i...
1971). 
· Studies (Des, 1975 and Ormerod, 1975) have shown that girls in single- sex schools 
are more favorably disposed ...
References 
1. Babikian, Y. (1971). An empirical investigation to determine the relative 
effectiveness of discovery, labo...
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Breaking the masculine image of physics

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The paper argues that the gender bias and lesser of number of females joining physics courses are due to masculine image of physics built by the media, methods of teaching physics and attitudes of physics teachers. It seems that collaborative and co-operative instructional strategies can make physics teaching gender inclusive.

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Breaking the masculine image of physics

  1. 1. Breaking the Masculine Image of Physics Dr. Lalit Kishore 68 – Jai Jawan Colony (III), Jaipur – 302 018 lalit_culp@rediffmail.com Abstract The paper argues that the gender bias and lesser of number of females joining physics courses are due to masculine image of physics built by the media, methods of teaching physics and attitudes of physics teachers. It seems that collaborative and co-operative instructional strategies can make physics teaching gender inclusive. Keywords: gender, physics instruction, cooperative learning Introduction Many physics educators (Kelly, 1976 and Macooby, 1970) say that women's position in physics is a depiction of their position in society as a whole. Kelly further adds that over and above this, there are special problems in physics instruction which centre on society's expectations and attitudes towards girls in science. Because physics in the classroom reflects those outside pressures, therefore, physics teachers and physicists must be concerned with setting their own house in order According to Kelly, "More women should be involved in physics. This is not a demand for quotas, but for steps to encourage girls, interest in, and enjoyment of physics, so that they become involved in the subject. If physics is seen as an integral part of a general education, taught for intellectual satisfaction and excitement it provides, then it should be made available in a way which appeals to both boys and girls. If the aim is to produce further research physicists, then source of potential talent must come from both girls and boys."
  2. 2. Brief Literature Overview As far as the cognitive learning is concerned, it is a well- established fact now that there is no difference between boys and girls. If less girls are attracted to physics courses, it is the matter of attitude and methods of teaching physics seem to have a queer image created by media as being remote, difficult and masculine. Also, popular media projection of scientists as eccentrics seems to be keeping girls away from physics courses. Dodge (1966) gives the example of Russia, where deliberate attempt was made through films and books with scientists as heroes and do-gooders to improve the image of scientists and attract more girls to science courses and research in science subjects. Gender and Physics: What Do Educators Say and Reveal? Some Important observations and findings in respect of the relation between sciences (physics in particular) are as follows. · Girls may lose interest in physics because such interest is not expected of them by teachers and society in general. If physics is seen as a subject for boys, girls become unwilling to take up physics as a subject of study (Kelly, 1976). · Text-books unconsciously reflect the general low opinion of women's place in society. Many times physics text books give an impression that physics is not done by but for women (Kelly, 1976). · If more of social implications of science as well as science as a means for societal good are projected along with its content then girls are able to correlate to it better (Ormerod, 1975). · Girls are generally more reinforce-able than boys, more encouraged by success and more discouraged by failure and retreat from the subject. (Shayer, 1972) · Emphasis on discovery methods, experimental work when done collaboratively can enhance girls’ participation in learning physics. However, any difference between boys and girls learning styles are group differences, and individuals do not fall fit the group pattern, therefore, there is a need to use a range of teaching styles in verbal or experimental, expository or discovery, best suited to individual's learning style (Babikian,
  3. 3. 1971). · Studies (Des, 1975 and Ormerod, 1975) have shown that girls in single- sex schools are more favorably disposed towards physics than girls in co-educational schools. Probably the reason is that in the only- girls institution, there is no strong tendency to link physics as difficult and a boys' subject. This emphasizes the point that sex- typing of subjects is stronger in co-educational schools. Reflective Analysis On the basis of the qualitative data in the form of forgoing views of physics educators and some facts from studies, the following factors contribute to the exclusion of girls from physics courses. · Prevalence of an attitude to project physics as a difficult and masculine subject · Media image about scientists as crazy people. · Use of instructional methods like lecturers and individualistic learning which project physics as remote, abstract and difficult subject. · Learning environment and evaluation system which are hurtful to the self- esteem of girls. · Gender-bias in text-books and emphasis on competitive learning rather than cooperative learning. · Lack of inclusion of sociology of science and value system in curriculum organization and transaction. The severity of these factors in Indian situation needs to be studied at the school and higher education levels of physics instruction. In Conclusion There is a need to review physics curricula to make them female friendly in the light of the factors mentioned in the paper. Also, educational research with gender forms needs to be done by the institutions of higher education to make a case for changing the methods of physics teaching.
  4. 4. References 1. Babikian, Y. (1971). An empirical investigation to determine the relative effectiveness of discovery, laboratory, and expository methods of teaching science concepts, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 3. 2. Des (1975). Curricular differences in boys and girls, Education Survey, 21, Department of Education and Sciences. 3. Dodge, N.T. (1966). Women in soviet economy, Johns Hopkins Press 4. Kelly, A. (1975). Discouraging process: how women are eased out of science. Paper presented and circulated at the conference on girls and science education, London: Chelsea College 5. Ormerod, M.B. (1975). Science education: attitudes, subject preference and choice. Paper presented and circulated at the conference on girls and science education, London: Chelsea College 6. Shayer. M. (1972). Conceptual demands in the Nuffield O-level physics. School Science Review, 53 (26).

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