A Gendered Society: Gender Roles in Education

So here’s an outline of a chapter that we are assigned to do in my Sociology of Gender class. We are assigned into book groups and there are four textbooks. And we each read a chapter from the book that we have chosen according to the group we are in. So I joined a  group, read the chapter and created an outline. Then we will present it to the class for a grade as well as class discussion. I believe that this is great information since I do believe what it says is true and that this happens on college campuses and in middle and high schools.Seems like gender is everything in America.

This first part talks about students and their educational experiences. The second part talks about the faculty of colleges and what their role and expectations are for each gender. However, I only provide the first part of the chapter and the outline below.

Book: Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture
Author: Julia T. Wood

Chapter 8: “Gendered Education: Communication in Schools”

I.        Gendered Expectations and Pressures Facing Students

A.      To understand the gendered education system that exists today there are three gendered dynamics that plays as a role in today schools; especially on college campuses.

1.      Academics: Both males and females encounter with the gendered expectations and pressure from the time they enter kindergarten all the way through graduate and professional school.

a.       Males

1.      The author points out that in younger grades, the learning environment is feminine since the adult females outnumber the male teachers.  Boys tend to have more physical energy and less impulse to control themselves as they try to adjust to the classroom setting

2.      Males are behind in reading and verbal skills and females are more likely to achieve such skills faster. Furthermore, females are more likely to succeed academically whereas 33% of males are likely to drop out.

3.      After high school, females are 22% more likely than males to plan to attend college. Today women make up 58% of students in two- and four- year colleges. Minority women are twice as likely to as minority men to earn college degrees.

4.      Choices of how to spend time whether studying or doing extracurricular activities plays an important role of both genders level of accomplishment. In schools, they discourage boys and men to develop traditional feminine skills such as caring for others and entering fields traditional for women.

5.      Sex combine with race can help cause disadvantages for some male students.  Low expectations towards African American males are communicated from the teacher.  They are targets of teacher disapproval and unfavorable treatment than their white peers.  Therefore, African American males drop out in higher numbers than white males or females of any race.

a.       Females

1.      Women are faced with the bias and barrier of being less skilled in the field of math and science education that could decrease them getting a career in said fields.  Faculty and their peers feel as if they are less able than males in the fields. Women earn 22.6% of undergrad degrees in physics but only 15.5% of doctorates. They earn nearly half of undergrad degrees in mathematics and less than that in getting doctorates.

2.      Cultural stereotype of femininity do not include women being skilled in science and math; therefore they are being disapproved are judged incompetent if not extremely successful and perceived as cold, selfish, and manipulative, and not liked they are successful.

3.      Sex-related differences in the brain allow males to have slight edge in math and science skills than females. Males are likely to be encouraged to peruse careers in these fields and females should have careers that involved being interacted with people.

             B.  Gender-Stereotyped Curricula

1.      Gender stereotype still exist in the curriculum in schools. For instance, history is taught and only males are the spotlight of lessons and very seldom are the women are noted to their contributions. This is like a lesson that talks about war battles and military leaders.

2.      When women are mentioned in the curricular they fall under two categories:

a.       The women who fit traditional stereotypes of women: For example Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag.

b.      Women highlighted in curricula distinguished themselves on men’s term and in masculine contexts: Mother Jones was a powerful organizer for unions. Women in this category tend to represent as exceptional cases or remain hidden.

3.      1974: Researches identify a hidden curriculum that reflects gender stereotypes and sustain gender inequities by giving less attention and encouragement to female students than to white male students.

4.      Historical events are taught in terms of what men did and their effects rather than highlighting the women. They neglect their impact on women and minorities. The major events are not taught on how women gained more opportunities, were considered inferior because they were assumed to have limited capacity to reason and how the Industrial Revolution changed women’s lives, work, and relationships with their husbands.

5.      Sexism in education intersects in the other forms of discrimination such as racism, classism, and heterosexism. Certain males are presented as the standard typical white, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle- and upper-class men as the norm in textbooks. Women and minorities are still underrepresented in educational materials.

6.      Not only do students learn just only about men and their experiences and perspectives, but they deprived of learning about women and their experiences and contributions to the world.

               C. Athletics

1.      Today females to have plenty of opportunities to participate in sports due to Title IX. This the section of the Educational Amendment of 1972 that makes it illegal for schools that accept federal funds to discriminate on the basis of sex.

2.      Though this is really great, male athletes and coaches of men’s teams receive more support (and financially, too) than female athletes and coaches. Also, the numbers of female athletes have no increased evenly. Only 41% athletes are female and 58% of undergrads are females. And before the passing of Title IX, more than 90% of coaches of women’s sports were women.

3.      Division I colleges pay male coaches more than women coaches and a few women’s sports are actually coached by women. Originally the law required schools that receive federal funds to provide equal opportunities to female and male students to participate in intercollegiate competition. To meet this requirement, most schools had to show evidence that their programs accommodate both male and female students’ interests and abilities.

4.      In 2005 a court case of this law stated that all colleges had to send students a survey and one even by e-mail about their athletic interests and abilities. If they don’t reply it was assumed that they were satisfied with the present policies.  A lot of questions were raised by critics of the new ruling. They worry that not all non-responses indicate satisfaction with athletic opportunities on campus.

                     D. Gender Socialization in Peer Cultures

1.      Once children begin to interact with other children, peers exercise strong influence on gender attitudes and identities. The culture of most campuses today put gendered pressures both men and women. This is the case since men are encouraged to conform to social views of masculinity, and women to social views of femininity. College campus is a training ground for adult gender and peer groups are for socialization.

2.      Males are much more insistent that boys do boy things than females are that girls do girl things. Boys learn that in order to fit in they have to be strong though, and aggressive. If they are not up to this standard they are insulted with phrases such as “You’re a sissy!” They are not to show any signs of femininity. The cultural message that masculine is more valuable than feminine: Boys may not act feminine, but girls may act masculine.  Male bonding reinforces masculine identification in most boys

3.      Males are often engage in drinking and sexual activity to demonstrate their masculinity; especially fraternity brothers. The frat brothers embody extreme versions of masculinity wit heavy drinking, having sex with many women as possible, and talking about women in demeaning ways.

4.      Girls often make fun of or bully other girls that may not wear popular name bran clothes or weigh more than what is ideal. Fitting in with the popular crowd is a cornerstone of self-esteem. Children and adolescents do whatever it takes to get approved and acceptance of their peers.

5.      Women feel compelled to achieve effortless perfection which is the need to be beautiful, fit, popular, smart, and accomplished without any visible effort.  Some college faculty treats women students in gender-stereotyped way such as compliments on appearance instead of their academic work to offers of higher grades for sexual favors.


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  • I would agree with the author that it is more accepted that a female acts masculinely than a male acting femininely but I wouldn't say it was accepted. I've always been more masculine (except in appearance) and I had a very tough time fitting in. My saving grace was that I present myself in a very feminine manner. I still could never 'get along' with girls, though.

  • Excellent post.I want to thank you for this informative read, I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep up your work..

  • I'm a student from California and my experiences with gender roles in education have been slightly different than the author described; my classes frequently discuss the trials of women and minorities throughout history, how the situation has progressed, and what stereotypes still pervade American culture. However I've certainly witnessed the different expectations for males and females outside the classroom.

    Thank you for the thought-provoking blog!

  • Really nice post. I expecially agree with what you said about children and how they have to conform to the roles society sets for them.

  • Pretty spot on man. good work