Gender Bias in School Education

Gender Bias in School Education

Thasniya K. T.
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2819-8.ch004
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Education has ever been considered as the best instrument for facilitating women empowerment and ensuring gender justice. Schools play a major role in gender socialization, and are expected to develop proper attitudes and values in children required for a gender just society. Based on the empirical studies conducted in 24 schools in Kerala, India, the gender bias existing in the overall school climate and classroom practices are exposed. The study using observation and interviews revealed that the practices in several schools are gendered with regard to the rules and regulations, dress code, seating arrangements and play provisions to boys and girls. Findings also revealed that there are gendered classroom practices existing with regard to teacher-student verbal interaction, teacher eye contact and attention, grouping of students, assigning roles and responsibilities, and disciplinary practices. Based on the findings, the author suggests measures to eliminate the gender bias from the school education system.
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Gender socialization is a more focused form of socialization, through which individuals take on gendered qualities and characteristics and learn what the society expects of them as males and females. Family, education system, peers, media and religion are generally considered to be the major agents of gender socialization that have a great influence upon the lives of individuals. Gender issues and bias in education are critical concerns that women across the world face. It is predominant in all aspects of education such as enrolment and retention, curriculum, classroom exercises, teacher-student interaction, disciplinary practices, play provisions, seating arrangements, assigning of roles and responsibilities, perceptions of parents and teachers etc. Access to education is a fundamental right of both women and men and the right to free and compulsory primary education, without discrimination has been reaffirmed in all major international human rights rules.

Schools are expected to cater to the physical, mental and emotional development of children through varied curricular components. Development of proper attitudes and values required for a gender just society forms an inevitable objective of education.But across the world, schooling has not always fulfilled its potential as a change agent capable of challenging existing gender inequalities. However, gender equality in schools is central to achieving rights of not only access but participation, recognition and valuing of all children. It is also integral to improving the quality of education bringing in democracy in the classroom as democratic learning is based on gender equality and quality education. However, assumptions about what is appropriate for boys and girls to learn often undermine aspirations for equality in pedagogy. Historical and geographical contexts play a crucial role in shaping these assumptions and creating the conditions in which an agenda for gender equality does or does not develop.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Play Provisions: Play space, play item, play time, etc. allotted for girls and boys in the school.

Secondary School: C lasses from 8 th to 10 th standard of Indian schools.

Gender Role Perception: Notions regarding the social role encompassing a range of behaviors, attitudes and responsibilities that are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for each gender.

Gender Stereotypes: Widely held beliefs/images about men and women passed from generation to generation, through socialization.

NCERT: National Council of Educational Research and Training is the apex government body of India that governs, guides and assists the school education institutions for their qualitative improvement.

Primary School: Classes from 1 st to 4 th standard of Indian schools.

Disciplinary Practices: The rules/regulations and practices adopted by the schools for correcting behavioral problems of students.

Gender Division of Labor: Division of jobs and responsibilities based on gender without considering individual abilities or interests or aptitudes of men and women.

Drop Out: The phenomenon of student discontinuing education without completing the predetermined term/level.

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