Gender Bias in the Classroom Essay

Gender Bias in the Classroom

Since the 90’s there have been many reports on the prevalence of gender bias in education. Everyone—students and educators alike—has preconceived notions. An awareness of these preconceptions must be cultivated, and new and more objective views encouraged.

Essentially, stereotypes must be avoided as much as possible, and fairness must always be demonstrated. Even subtle aspects of the classroom should be scrutinized. Posters and such that depict stereotyped roles should be avoided. Particular care should be taken to avoid depicting females in primarily submissive roles and males in superior roles.

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“Boys vs. Girls” activities should be avoided as well. Even something as “ordinary” as lining them up according to sex should not be done, as this has no practical justification; arranging the students by name, alphabetically, is more reasonable and free from implications of discrimination.

It can be difficult to consciously avoid bias, so techniques should be practiced that take care of bias-avoidance for the educator. For example, when calling on students to answer questions, rather than picking the students himself, the educator can use a set of index cards, with one student’s name on each card, to randomly pick a student,. This will ensure that every student has the same opportunity. This technique also has the added benefit of keeping students alert and attentive.

Literature should be carefully examined before being used in the classroom. Literature that depicts stereotyped roles for males and females may promote bias and should not be used. Of course, it is important to be realistic as well, and to keep the students grounded properly, so it is not desirable to eliminate all stereotypes in literature (which is impossible). Important pieces of literature that depict stereotypes cannot be fully avoided, thus any gender stereotypes encountered in literature should also be discussed and evaluated with the students.

Care must be taken when talking to students. Discriminatory words must be banished from conversational speech; for example, “boys will be boys”—this encourages boys to pride themselves in unruly behavior, while it sends the message to girls that they must curb themselves and must be meeker compared to boys.

It is especially difficult to inculcate gender equity to a student who has strong biased preconceptions that have been learned from their family. Just saying will not do it; students will understand more readily by example.

Students must be encouraged to go “out of the box,” to search for variety in literature, as this can provide them with new insights into pertinent issues such as gender. It is a good idea that the educator becomes familiar with the different cultures students come from, as this will help in gauging how much the educator should try to intervene with their notions.
References

Chapman, A.(n.d.). Gender Bias in Education. Edchange.org. Retrieved March 23, 2006, from http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/papers/genderbias.html.

Sadker, D. (1999). Gender Equity:Still Knocking at the Classroom Door. Retrieved March 23, 2006, from http://www.sadker.org/eq-leader.htm.

Davidson, A. L. (2002). Gender Equity in the Classroom. Pagewise. Retrieved March 23, 2006, from http://ct.essortment.com/genderequityin_rmnj.htm.

An Educator’s Guide to Gender Bias Issues.(n.d.) Retrieved from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign website:  http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/wp/access/gender.html.

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