Gender Inequality In The Classroom – One in three girls in sub-Saharan Africa does not complete primary school, revealing the current issue of gender inequality in education worldwide
Despite progress, many girls are still being failed by education systems around the world, a new report from the Center for Global Development shows.
Gender Inequality In The Classroom
Women’s access to education has increased dramatically in recent decades, with improvements in every low- and middle-income country. Between 1995 and 2020, the proportion of girls who completed secondary school jumped from half to three quarters. But many still lack access to basic education. In Afghanistan, girls continue to be denied any access to secondary education, despite assurances from the Taliban earlier this year that schools would reopen. The sudden U-turn on the decision in March was condemned internationally.
Gender Inequality In Schools
Gender inequality in education is clearly visible in other regions. More than one in four girls in sub-Saharan Africa are illiterate and one in three does not complete primary school, while in South Asia the number is one in 14. Even small percentages can mask very high numbers; 96 percent of Indian girls complete primary school, but that still leaves 4.6 million girls who don’t.
Other differences between the education of girls and boys can be seen in the subjects that are taught, such as mathematics, in which girls often get much lower marks, although boys perform better in school overall. A more recent study by the University of Bath also revealed that an insistence on teaching English in many schools in sub-Saharan Africa also causes girls to struggle unnecessarily, as English is often not practiced outside of schools and many children lack basic skills lacking in language. Dr Lizzi Milligan, lead researcher at the University of Bath’s Department of Education, says: “Although girls’ education is generally high on the agenda for politicians, this specific issue has received very little attention… to achieve it, we urgently need to look at this question.’FILE – Pakistani students are gathered around their teacher in a classroom in Karachi, Pakistan, February 24, 2014.
Creating a classroom environment that treats women and men equally is important to students’ educational success. However, gender equality does not stop with the teacher. It is also important that the materials used support equal treatment.
In fact, many classroom materials, especially those that are older, may contain gender bias in activities, photos, or words. These materials may include textbooks, pictures, reading materials, written assignments, or even test materials. When students use materials like this in class, they can reinforce stereotypes about gender roles in society.
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Classroom materials that reinforce gender stereotypes can discourage students, weaken their motivation, and limit their overall academic performance. This can result in fewer opportunities for students once they have completed their schooling.
Research has found that stereotypes and gender bias exist in English-language materials. Several studies by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, have found that some texts underrepresent women, contain stereotypes about women or offensive comments about women.
In addition, research has found that characterizations in teaching materials often show a male majority. A study on high school English language textbooks in Iran found that masculine characterizations were used as much as 80% of the time.
Examine the image below. These pictures were taken from an English language textbook. What do you notice about how men and women are portrayed?
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In this picture, six people, four men and two women, are shown in different occupations. The men in the photo include a construction worker, a doctor, a policeman and a truck driver. The women shown include a farm worker and a grocery store employee.
This picture shows men and women in gender-stereotypical jobs in two ways. First, male representation is double that of female. Second, men generally work in higher level, more economically powerful jobs.
Now watch a short reading activity from a current English textbook. What do you notice about the representation of men and women in the example?
The weather of a place can affect our daily lifestyle in many ways. This makes the weather forecast something of significance for us. The weather affects to a very large extent the type of food we eat, what we wear, how we live and work. Despite the advances made in science and technology, farmers and their crops are still at the mercy of the climate and the weather. Fishermen, farmers, journalists, sportsmen, housewives and airplane pilots are some of the people who are directly affected by the weather. The fishermen must make sure that there are no strong winds and excessive rainfall before going out to sea.
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Farmers need to know the weather conditions so that their crops can be planted at the right time. Do you remember when the El Niño weather phenomena destroyed a large amount of crops? Athletes cannot be engaged in sporting activities in certain weather conditions. Can you imagine a game of cricket or football being played during a period of heavy rainfall? Even the housewife needs to know the weather for the day in order to decide her daily activities, for example the laundry work.
The play discusses the weather and how it affects people in different professions. However, it refers to some of the jobs with masculine endings, such as “fishermen” and “sportsmen.” The only specific reference to a woman is that of “housewife”.
This enforces gender stereotypes in two ways: First, it creates the impression that some of these jobs are only meant for males. It also creates the impression that the work of staying at home and doing domestic activities is meant for women.
It is important that teachers are able to identify the signs of unequal gender representation in textbooks and other materials. A UNESCO checklist can help teachers check their materials for this problem. Here are some of his guidelines:
Gender Inequality In Education
The answer is: it depends. Some teachers may make changes to their materials or the way they use them. Other teachers may be able to create original teaching content. Here are some more UNESCO guidelines that can help such efforts.
It requires additional work for teachers to review their materials for gender bias. But using gender-sensitive materials in the classroom can help support the creation of more gender-sensitive attitudes among students. It can also establish a stronger learning environment where all students are motivated to succeed.
What are other ideas for adapting teaching materials to be more gender sensitive? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comment section or on our Facebook page.
A tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others, usually treating some people unfairly
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An often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a certain characteristic.
Policies and programs must change restrictive gender norms to meaningfully impact the lives of women and girls.
In many societies, women’s choices around education, marriage, work, and child-rearing are severely limited and often prescriptive. In homes, schools, work, and public places, critical life decisions are underpinned by social and gender norms that contribute to a widespread acceptance of discriminatory practices against women. Broadly understood, gender norms are ‘informal rules that impose expectations about behavior that depend on gender’. Not only do these define socially acceptable behavior, but they also have the power to influence expectations for men and women – directly affecting their choices, freedoms and abilities.
Restrictive norms that foster gender biases have been scrutinized in social science research for the role they play in blocking gender equality across multiple dimensions of politics, education, economics and physical integrity, ie. Freedom from intimate partner violence and access to reproductive rights. Researchers also find that gender gaps favoring men over women are wider in developing countries.
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An important consequence of unequal gender norms is that they have the potential to minimize the positive effects of a number of programs designed to improve women’s health, educational attainment, employment and financial inclusion, among others .
Evidence from randomized evaluations suggests that to make meaningful changes in the fight against gender inequality, stakeholders need to intervene directly to change biased gender norms in policy and program design.
Norms favoring early marriage of girls have led to its widespread practice and are correlated with negative health and educational outcomes for women. One possible approach to successfully combat early marriage practices is to account for the influence of parents on marriage decisions.
A study in rural Bangladesh tested whether providing conditional incentives for parents to delay their daughters’ marriages, allow adolescents, or a combined approach can reduce child marriage, reduce teenage child care and educational attainment among adolescent girls increase Girls whose families received conditional incentives (such as cooking oil) were 23 percent less likely to marry before age 18 and 13 percent less likely to have children during their teenage years, compared to girls in communities without programming. In comparison, while the Youth Empowerment Program – provides training in life skills, reproductive health and financial