Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Weekly 6: Gender Stereotypes in Education

Boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls.  Boys are tough and girls are emotional.  Boys grow up to be men that provide for their families.  This is the way it works.  No deviation from this pattern will be acceptable.  The amount of pressure that is produced from these gender stereotypes is revolting.  As a future educator, this topic is sickening.  You want your students to reach their highest potential, wherever that may be.  Regardless of gender, all students are given special gifts and talents.  It is up to us to find them   and encourage our students to pursue them.

The first initial questions that I have is:

  • How soon are we exposed to gender stereotypes?
  • Is the affect preventable?
  • Does it affect all children? To what degree?
  • What type of role does a teacher have in regard to gender stereotypes?
  • How much does the classroom impact students' view of themselves?
  • How did gender stereotypes affect me?
I believe that educators have the power to provide molds for their students.  The type of environment we provide can strongly influence ideas and behaviors.  This is why teachers need to be tuned in to what affect they have on their students.  It has been said that 

"Sitting in the same classroom, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher, boys and girls receive very different educations" ("Gender Bias," 2013).

Is the fate of our classroom predetermined?  I do not think so.  Teachers can be conscious of their behavior toward both genders.  So many times teachers are a product of their own type of conditioning as well.  Teachers already assume that girls are neat and organized, while boys might require more reprimanding.  Why is this?  This is due to the overwhelming influence of socialization.  Paul C. Gorski states that "socialization of gender within our schools assure that girls are made aware that they are unequal to boys" ("Gender Bias," 2013).  We assume that gender is the determining factor for our most dominate traits.  This idea might introduce the topic of nature vs. nurture, but that is for another time.  So many different factors affect the children that are put through the education system.  The students today are different than they were forty years ago.  There is no reason why the treatment of them should stay the same.  Our society is on its way to revolutionizing the role of genders.  Women are beginning to dominate in the work force and going beyond the normal domestic roles.  In order to foster this development, I want to know what I can do as an educator to instill the empowerment in both genders. My role as an educator goes beyond what I teach in my classroom.  It dips into the type of ideas I plant in my students' head.  What messages do I want to grow?  

This video explains the important effect of stereotypes in the classroom.  Throughout history, we have dealt with race and gender in education.  What happens when students and teachers see these stereotypes in a different light... 

"When you are not aware, you will let it happen."

Holding students to the same standards is the foundational layer to success for every person in your classroom.  Students who believe they can do well will achieve close to that expectation.  It is as simple as changing their mindset when it comes to understanding and performance.  This is the type of power educators have is underestimated.  In my opinion, teachers need to reassess the type of messages they are sending to their students.  Maybe the focus for improving education would shift from the need for more governmental funding and reducing budget cuts to providing the best role models in the classroom.  If student performance is directly correlated to the types of messages they receive, then it is not about money at all.  Women need to believe that they are equally capable to pursue the same careers as men and races need to believe they have the right to feel successful.  

Be a part of the solution and not the problem. 

1 comment:

  1. This is really a huge topic of it. The two pieces combine for terrible effect: teacher expectations are powerful and causational, and we all perpetrate implicit bias regardless of gender and ethnicity.

    I think you might enjoy the book Whistling Vivaldi for more in this direction.