School curriculum, Textbooks and class readings, Teacher to pupil and pupil to pupil relations, School administration, discipline actions, sport, knowledge, play and assessment are all areas which still display strong gender imbalances. These phenomena are involved in the complex dynamic of gender and schooling, developing a range of interpretations of masculinity and femininity in which is viewed by society (MCEECDYA, 1996).
From birth, parents and carers treat children in accordance to their biological gender, like parents, teachers treat children according to gendered assumptions of what is appropriate (Gilbert & Pam). The way children and adolescence are treated, disciplined and educated in relation to gender, demonstraight schools support, reinforcement and reliance upon stereotypical discourses of male and female sexuality. Teachers can socialize girls towards a more feminine perception, as they are praised for being neat, quiet, and calm whereas boys are stimulated to think independently, be active and speak up. Girls who perform well within the classroom are more likely to be seen by teachers as persistent and working hard, where boys’ high achievement is often described in terms of their natural wit and brilliance (Chapman, 2012). Within the classroom disciplinary actions are vastly based on the child’s biological gender. Certain behaviors are often tolerated for boys then for girls, because teachers regard this as some intrinsic masculinity (Tait, 2013). This demonstraights the imbalance of gender and the way in which the oppression of females is apparent within schools today. Gender biased curriculum and classroom texts can inevitably lead to an inequitable education outcome for male and female students. Both traditional and contemporary books, stories and films, which are aimed at children, often show orthodox views on gender. The field study investigation (below), which was based on analyzing lead characters from well-known children’s films, agrees with the idea that children’s films, which are often watched in class, encourage and support gender inequality. Main characters like the Disney princesses are created to become role models and ideal figures for young girls, yet they are confining the characteristics to gender typical. These characters and films are the embodiment of hegemonic masculinity and typical femininity. These films, which are often apart of school curriculum, become the foundation of gender inequality within primary schools. Unlike primary, secondary school offers diverse subjects in which children are able to select, in correlation to their own preferences. Subjects throughout secondary school; such as ‘economics and arts’ to ‘physics and manufacturing’ are instinctively recognized for there demarcation of gender enrolments. [Graph 2] represents subject enrolments by sex in 2000 and show relatively predictable figures. Males often dominate subjects such as physics, computer studies and technology, which are considered ‘hard’. Subjects such as humanities, economics and biology, which are often tied to feminine traits, are very dominated by females. As a result of this, by the time students arrive to grade12, these messages are meticulously embedded in students minds, constituting a very clear example of the social reproduction of gender and consequently generating different outcomes that males and females will receive from schooling. Patterns of Gender inequalities within education are not only evident across students and school curriculum but also in staff employment. In 2010, there was an imbalance of 4.1 female primary teachers in Australia to every male. [Graph 1] demonstrates the number of full-time equivalent teaching staff by sex and school level in 2010 (ABS, 2011). The graph indicates the dramatic change in staff gender as a child moves from primary school to secondary, showing that woman are primarily responsible for the education of small children, where as men become more predominant as the students get older. This view coincides with the common belief that woman are more suited to teach small children than men. With teachers acting as role models, none of this goes unnoticed by students, consequently this is allowing children to grow up in an environment surrounded by gender stereotypes (Eckert & McConnell- Ginet, unknown). Children are continuously being exposed to gender stereotypes, which teaches and encourages them the ways to behave in regards to their biological sex. Although these notions are embedded in children’s minds from birth, educational institutions further encourage them. There are many motives which creates this however their use of bias teaching and discipline procedures, there curriculum and class materials (texts, books and films), and there imbalance of staff gender are issues which have a great impact on students within the classroom. These narrow versions of masculinity and obsolete views on woman’s roles are causing significant issues, not only within schools, but also within the workforce, and our everyday life. It is very evident that schools are attempting to be gender natural in all areas, however gender has been so thoroughly insinuated in our lives that it appears to us to be completely natural.
ABS. (2011, February 21). Retrieved April 17, 2013, from Australian Bureau of Statistics: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/lookup/4221.0Main+Features62010?OpenDocument
Chapman, A. (2012). Retrieved April 17, 2013, from Ed Change: http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/papers/genderbias.html
Eckert, P., & McConnell- Ginet, S. (unknown). Language and Gender. Cambridge.
Gilbert, R., & Pam, G. Masculinity Goes To School. St leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
MCEECDYA. (1996, August). Framework for Action on Gender Equity in Schooling . Retrieved from http://www.mceecdya.edu.au/mceecdya/
Sadker, M., & David, S. (1994). Failing at fairness: how our schools cheat girls. Toronto: Simon & Schuster Inc.
Tait, G. (2013). Making Sense of Mass Education. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.