Sexist attitudes of teachers have a major impact on secondary education
“Girls are expected to work harder, perform better in school and behave better. On the other hand, boys are allowed to get away with worse behavior. In addition, they are less expected, which discourages many of them from achieving good academic results, “says Milagros Sáinz Ibáñez, senior researcher in the Gender and ICT (GenTIC) group at the Interdisciplinary Internet Institute (IN3 ) from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). Spain ”published inSAGE Open and carried out with Sergi Fàbregues, also member of GenTIC, and Jordi Solé, principal researcher of the Laboratory of Social Education group, both members of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the UOC, and Sara García-Cuesta , researcher at the University of La Laguna.
The study aimed to “empirically establish to what extent some secondary school teachers still have sexist attitudes about differences in academic achievement between male and female students and their choice of subjects,” says study lead author Sáinz Ibáñez. The results, obtained from a sample of 36 teachers, were presented at various local, national and international forums with the aim of bringing about changes in the education system to encourage more equitable socialization and educational environment. and more fair.
From male intellectual capacity to the hard work of women
According to the expert, many of these attitudes are unconscious and based on prejudices, but they have a major impact on the career path of students. “It is interesting that they attributed the good marks obtained by some male students to their intelligence, without any reference to their efforts. And, conversely, they attributed the good marks or the best performances of the girls to their efforts, on the basis they are harder workers and better adapted to the education system than their male peers ”, explains the researcher. Moreover, some teachers believe that girls’ performance is also favored by the fact that they mature earlier, which makes them more responsible and attentive in class.
Greater mercy on boys’ behavior
“People generally expect less from boys than from girls. Additionally, if a boy is disruptive in the classroom, the teacher is likely to be more lenient in the face of this behavior, justifying it because many boys are immature or have a hard time. However, when a girl behaves. badly or has a bad attitude in class and does not perform well in school, she is punished twice, ”concludes Sáinz Ibáñez.
Teachers consulted in the study believe that their teaching has no impact on the gender gap in student choice of subjects. They attribute this to other factors, such as the role played by families and the media. In addition, although they were aware of the problem, few mentioned the steps they had taken to address it. Likewise, the UOC researcher noted that “most teachers do not believe that students should be separated by gender in order to close the gender gap in academic achievement and performance.”
Boys lag behind girls in rich countries
Spain is not alone in this case. In the article published in Sage Open, the authors of the research noted that various studies have shown that in many Western countries, boys lag behind girls in various academic indicators, such as academic achievement and early dropout rate. However, this is not the case in developing OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Malaysia, where girls are lagging behind. boys for the same indicators.
In Spain, boys have shown a greater tendency to drop out of school than their female peers over the past decade. In 2019, for example, 21.4% of boys and 13% of girls dropped out. The academic paths chosen by Spanish students also continue to conform to gender roles. Only 27.41% of female students take technology studies and only 35.05% of men choose to study humanities, although the number of female students enrolled in health and science subjects has increased by 74.29% and 58.75% respectively in recent years.
Sexist views on education within families affect future school choices
Milagros Sáinz et al, Opinions of secondary school teachers on gender differences in school performance and study choices in Spain, SAGE Open (2021). DOI: 10.1177 / 21582440211047573
Provided by Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)
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