Gender Bias in the Classroom

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Abstract

Gender is a dynamic concept. Race, class, economic circumstances, age- all of these influences what is considered appropriate for women and men. This study determined the level of gender biases among Education students along learning materials, subject matter, learning evaluation, and teaching evaluation. The descriptive method was employed using quantitative data. This study was conducted at Bukidnon State University, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. A total of 80 respondents participated in this study, representing the 4-year levels of Education Students, both Elementary and Secondary Education of the College of Education. The data were gathered using a modified-structured questionnaire. Mean and the standard deviation was utilized to analyze the data. The findings revealed that the instructors often gender-biased in the classroom. It is recommended that instructors will undergo more on Gender and Development (GAD) seminars and training to lessen gender biases in the classroom.

Keywords: Gender and Development, dynamic concept, learning materials, subject matter, learning, and teaching evaluation

Introduction

As Emma Watson said, ‘Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive; both men and women should feel free to be strong… it is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideas.’ The most suitable educational environment for all students is those that are profound when it comes to gender orientation. Gender is purposefully used to highlight that the differences between men and women, girls and boys are products of the socio-cultural setting. The unequal treatments to an individual or group based on their gender which is influenced by the dominant values and attitudes by their social environment are termed gender bias.

In education, many researchers, such as Sadker and Sadker (1986), investigated gender bias in the classroom. Their research suggested that gender bias was alive and well in the classroom. Many studies (Beaman, et al., 2006; Lundeberg, 1997; McCaughtry, 2013; Sadker, Sadker& Klein, 1991) seemed to be pointing to the idea that schools reinforce stereotypical gender roles where girls are meant to be quiet and compliant, while boys more actively participate. Some have even gone as far as to state that females are the ideal student due to their greater ability to stay on task, to have greater compliance and greater willingness to please. Sadker and Sadker (1986) also wrote that males were trained to be assertive learners, while females are being trained to be passive spectators in classrooms.

According to Crawford & MacLeod (1990), college and universities have been found to continue these similar patterns with males interacting more and creating a chilly environment for women to participate in. From grade school to university, Crawford and MacLeod (1990) found that biased classroom interaction decreases women’s self-confidence in their intellectual abilities. Interestingly, teachers tend to be unaware that gender bias exists in their classrooms (Lundeberg, 1997).

In our educational society, gender bias is active and thriving. Without realizing, teachers participate in such actions. This unconscious act has many effects on the students in a classroom. This will not only seep over into students but this has implicit long term effects and implications regarding the success of students in the classroom and in the later life situations. However, slight progress has been made at finding a way of reducing gender bias or lessening the effects it has. The attitudes and behaviors discover the devious and riddle nature of gender inequality in the classroom.

The purpose of this study was to determine the level of gender bias in the classroom among education students of Bukidnon State University. This is achieved by having a student survey to find out the level of gender biases in their classroom.

Conceptual Framework

This study is anchored on the Gender theory developed by Bonnie G. Smith in the academy during the 1970s and 1980s as a set of ideas guiding historical and other scholarship in the West. Essentially this theory proposed looking at masculinity and femininity assets of mutually created characteristics shaping the lives of men and women. It replaced or challenged ideas of masculinity and femininity and of me and women as operating in history according to biological determinants (Encyclopedia, 2001).

Gender is a dynamic concept. Gender roles for women and men vary greatly from one culture to another and from one social group to another within the same culture. Race, class, economic circumstances, age- all of these influences what is considered appropriate for women and men.

Teachers socialize girls towards a feminine ideal. Girls are praised for being neat, quiet, and calm, whereas boys are encouraged to think independently, be active and speak up. Girls are socialized in schools to recognize popularity as being important, and learn that educational performances and ability are not as important (Bailey, 1992)

Research Objectives

This study will determine the level of gender discrimination in the classroom among Education students during the second semester of the year 2018-2019 at Bukidnon State University-College of Education.

To determine the level of gender biases among Education students along learning materials, subject matter, learning evaluation, and teaching evaluation.

Related Literature

A review of some literature and studies have a bearing on the study is presented in this portion of the paper. This studies conducted by various researchers and authors were gathered to illuminate some facts about the level of gender biases in the classroom.

The 1980s are known for the application of feminist theory in the workplace and society at large. The feminist theory works to analyze the status of women and men in society with the purpose of using that knowledge to better women’s lives. In education, many researchers, such as Sadker and Sadker (1986), investigated gender bias in the classroom. Their research suggested that gender bias was alive and well in the classroom. They revealed that male students received more attention from teachers and were given more time to talk in classrooms than female students. Not only did male student receive more interaction time with teachers, but also the types of interactions they had were quite different.

The researchers stated that interactions involving precise feedback such as praise, criticism or help/correction were more likely to be with male students, while female students were statistically more likely to receive a fourth, less specific type of interaction, such as a simple acceptance like ‘okay,’ or ‘uh-huh.’ Males were most likely to be rewarded for a correct answer or given feedback to enhance their learning than females (Baker, 1986; Becker, 1981; Jones, 1989; Sadker&Sadker, 1986). Becker (1981), using the Brophy-Good Teacher-Child Dyadic Interaction System, found similar results. The researcher found that male students were given more opportunities for responding, questioning, being encouraged or criticized, received more individual help, and even had greater social connections with their teacher, than did females students.

Many studies (Beaman, et al., 2006; Lundeberg, 1997; McCaughtry, 2013; Sadker, Sadker& Klein, 1991) seemed to be pointing to the idea that schools reinforce stereotypical gender roles where girls are meant to be quiet and compliant, while boys more actively participate. Some have even gone as far as to state that females are the ideal student due to their greater ability to stay on task, to have greater compliance and greater willingness to please. Sadker and Sadker (1984) found that males in elementary and secondary schools are eight times more likely to call out and demand a teacher’s attention than females. When males called out, teachers tended to accept their answers, while females are more likely to be criticized for the same behavior. Sadker and Sadker (1986) wrote that males were trained to be assertive learners, while females are being trained to be passive spectators in classrooms. This female compliancy or passiveness is a greater benefit to their teachers than to the learners. Learned passiveness does not prepare women for their future careers. What about the opposing side of gender bias? Are boys receiving the wrong kind of attention from teachers? How could this bias be affecting male students?

According to Cullingford (1993), students feel that boys are more likely to get into trouble than girls, for behaving in the same manner. Boys receive more negative attention from teachers. He wrote, ‘There is also evidence that boys have more volatile relationships with teachers, both positive and negative’ (Cullingford, 1993). Unfortunately, the patterns of gender inequality in the classroom do not stop after high school. College and universities have been found to continue these similar patterns with males interacting more and creating a chilly environment for women to participate in (Crawford & MacLeod, 1990). From grade school to university, Crawford and MacLeod (1990) found that biased classroom interaction decreases women’s self-confidence in their intellectual abilities. Interestingly, teachers tend to be unaware that gender bias exists in their classrooms (Lundeberg, 1997).

An equal chance to be educated for men and women is one of the ways that will help each one of them to grow and be who they are as God designed them to be. These gender issues are continuing to push their way to spotlight, there is a need for more research about the teacher-student interactions. Conclusive shreds of evidence about gender inequality are not enough to propose that it no longer exist between the teacher-student interactions.

Methodology

This study will use the descriptive method of research of the instructors to determine the level of gender biases among the Education students. The study will be conducted at Bukidnon State University, commonly known as BukSU, is located in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon during the second semester of the year 2018-2019. There are the 80 Education students coming from the BEE and BSE that are randomly selected who serve as the participants of the study. The year levels are from the first year to the fourth year. The instrument to be used in this study is a questionnaire. Adopted from Dehler, et al., (2009). Modifications were made based on the degree of importance with regards to the research of the researchers about the presence of gender biases among the Education students.

Results and Discussion

Learning Material

As shown in table 1, the students rated their instructors as often in all indicators; the overall mean was 4.02 with a standard deviation of 1.13. The standard deviation also shows that there is the homogeneity of their answers to each item because it is almost the same with the standard deviation of each item.

Table 1 also shows the gender biases of the instructors in the learning materials. It is evident that the students’ perceptions were often in all items under the learning materials. This indicates that instructors are most of the time gender bias in the classroom.

Table 1

Gender Biases in the Learning Materials among Education Students

A. Learning Materials

The Instructor…

Mean

SD

Qualitative Description

uses spoken and written language either gender-neutral or male-female forms

4.16

1.06

Often

indicates male and female domains in the activities

4

1.17

Often

utilizes male and female persons in photos, examples, videos, slides and group activities

4.02

1.16

Often

recommends textbooks that initiate transformation attitudinal changes among learners about gender

3.9

1.23

Often

Overall mean

4.02

1.13

Often

According to Jocelyn Right (2008), learning materials in teaching are crucial to the success of student achievement. That is, the instructional components of lesson planning in teaching depend on the selection of teaching materials. ‘Teaching materials’ is a generic term used to describe the resources teachers use to deliver instruction. Teaching materials support student learning and increase student success. Ideally, the teaching materials will be tailored to the content in which they’re being used, to the students in whose class they are being used and the teacher.

Subject Matter

As shown in table 2, the students rated their instructors as often in all indicators; the overall mean was 4.11 with a standard deviation of 1.16. The standard deviation also shows that there is the homogeneity of their answers to each item because it is almost the same with the standard deviation of each item.

Table 2 also shows the gender biases of the instructors in the subject matter. It is evident that the students’ perceptions were often in all items under the subject matter. This indicates that instructors are most of the time gender bias in the classroom.

Table 2

Gender Biases in the Subject Matter among Education Students

B. Subject Matter

The instructor…

Mean

SD

Qualitative Description

reveals the relation between teaching content in the gender dimension (gender theory, stereotypes, and inequalities

4

1.21

Often

considers both male and female authors and researchers in the resource materials

4.13

1.11

Often

reflects gender-related structural dependencies/constraints within the learning environment of the students

4.16

1.11

Often

emphasizes the development of gender competence

4.15

1.21

Often

Overall mean

4.11

1.16

Often

On a practical basis, the subject matter is mediated by teachers and students in face-to-face classroom practice (Zumwalt, 1989). The constitution of subject matter is normative and prescriptive, insofar as school knowledge is a bid to shape human intellect and subjectivity. Definition and selection of knowledge necessarily essential entail a priori selection of meta-disciplinary standpoints, however implicit or explicit. The making explicit of the very stratum of presuppositions underlying curriculum development is indeed the principal rationale for the field of curriculum theory (Pinar, 1982)

Learning Evaluation

As shown in table 3, the students rated their instructors as often in all indicators; the overall mean was 4.06 with a standard deviation of 1.19. The standard deviation also shows that there is the homogeneity of their answers to each item because it is almost the same with the standard deviation of each item.

Table 3 also shows the gender biases of the instructors in the learning evaluation. It is evident that the students’ perceptions were often in all items under the learning evaluation. This indicates that instructors are most of the time gender bias in the classroom.

Table 3

Gender Biases in the Learning Evaluation among Education Students

C. Learning Evaluation

The instructor…

Mean

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SD

Qualitative Description

classify equally male and female students who perform well in the learning outcome measures

4

1.20

Often

emphasizes male and female in the rubrics are used in the evaluation of student performance

4

1.20

Often

uses learning evaluation that contains the assessment of gender competence of the students

4.1

1.13

Often

gives feedback on learning evaluation methods reflected to ensure that prejudice and stereotypes are not adopted by the students

4.16

1.28

Often

Overall mean

4.06

1.19

Often

Learning evaluation is ‘the process of determining to what extent the educational objectives are actually realizing’ (Tyler, 1950). ‘Evaluation is the process of determining merit, worth, or significance; an evaluation is a product of that process’ (Scriven, 1991).

However, Cronbach and associates (1980) clearly rejected the judgmental nature of evaluation advocating an approach that recognizes the evaluator as: ‘an educator whose success is to be judged by what others learn rather than a referee for a basketball game who is hired to decide who is right or wrong.

Teaching Evaluation

As shown in table 4, the students rated their instructors as often in all indicators; the overall mean was 4.22 with a standard deviation of 1.12. The standard deviation also shows that there is the homogeneity of their answers to each item because it is almost the same with the standard deviation of each item.

Table 4 also shows the gender biases of the instructors in the teaching evaluation. It is evident that the students’ perceptions were often in all items under the teaching evaluation. This indicates that instructors are most of the time gender bias in the classroom.

Table 4. Gender Biases in the teaching evaluation among Education Students

D. Teaching Evaluation

The instructor…

Mean

SD

Qualitative Description

applies evaluation assessments of gender-equality during the course and consequences that are derived and implemented

4.19

1.07

Often

deals equally the opinion of the female and male students to the evaluation of the teaching (questionnaire, discussion, and activities)

4.33

1.09

Often

assesses gender competence of the students

4.1

1.21

Often

does self-evaluate gender equality of his/her teaching (teaching activities, interactions with students, own stereotypes) to his/her students

4.26

1.12

Often

Overall mean

4.22

1.12

Often

Teacher evaluation is conducted to ensure teacher quality and to promote professional learning with the goal of improving future performance (Danielson, 2010). A basic definition of teacher evaluation is the formal process used to review teacher performance and effectiveness in the classroom (Sawchuk, 2015).

In practice, teacher evaluation involves understanding and agreeing on the inputs (practices that define the quality of teaching), outputs (student achievement measures) and methods of evaluation (student assessment data, teacher observation rubrics). The elements of evaluation are rarely agreed on (Goe, Bell& Little, 2008)

Table 6 presents a summary of the gender biases of the instructors in all areas. The overall qualitative description is often. The responses in the table indicate a widely dispersed data. The responses of the students show variety which means that their responses vary. That probably means each instructor has different ways on how they show their gender biases.

Table 6. Gender Bias in the Classroom

Area

Mean

Standard Deviation

Qualitative Description

Learning Material

4.02

1.13

Often

Subject Matter

4.11

1.16

Often

Learning Evaluation

4.06

1.19

Often

Teaching Evaluation

4.22

1.12

Often

Total Mean

4.10

1.15

Often

The highest level on gender bias in the classroom among the Education student is dealing equally the opinion of the female and male students to the evaluation of the teaching (questionnaire, discussion, and activities) in the teaching evaluation.

In the school environment, a teacher’s skills, strengths, and abilities have as much of an influence on student learning as student background (Wenglinsky, 2002). Successful teaching therefore requires competence in each of these areas: Curriculum content should be clear, relevant, meaningful and up-to-date; instructors’ pedagogical skills should successfully communicate course content, engage students, adapt to student learning styles and encourage critical thinking; and course assignments or evaluation methods should accurately measure student learning and provide feedback that helps students track progress and plan further learning goals (Diamond, 2008).

Findings

The study reveals that the highest level of gender bias in the classroom on the education students is dealing equally the opinion of the female and male students to the evaluation of the teaching in the questionnaire, discussion, and activities.

Conclusion

The study shows that in dealing equally of the opinion of the female and male students to the evaluation of the teaching in the questionnaire, discussion and activities, instructors tend to be gender bias. These results imply that in evaluating individual learners, teaching evaluations should be used with caution. Usually, teaching evaluation and student gender compositions are not corrected for feasible gender bias. For this, it is important to rethink the significance of teaching evaluations for performance reviews of both individual instructors and students lessen gender bias in the classroom.

Recommendation

By the result of the study, it is recommended that instructors will undergo more on Gender and Development (GAD) seminars and training to lessen gender biases in the classroom.

The Department of Education (DepEd) came out with a set of core messages on Gender and Development in accordance with R.A. 7192 ‘Women in Development in Nation Building Act’ and its Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) in consonance with the mandates of the Constitution.

The objectives of this program were: Integrate GAD concepts into the curriculum; raise gender awareness among the participates enabling them to be more committed and responsive to gender equality; facilitate the concept of mainstreaming the gender concerns in the department in accordance with the provisions of RA 7192; orient participants on the use of the GAD lesson exemplars; prepare an action plan and training matrix for the district echo training; and develop monitoring and evaluation scheme in the GAD program.

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Gender Bias in the Classroom. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/gender-bias-in-the-classroom/
“Gender Bias in the Classroom.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/gender-bias-in-the-classroom/
Gender Bias in the Classroom. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/gender-bias-in-the-classroom/> [Accessed 23 May 2022].
Gender Bias in the Classroom [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2022 May 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/gender-bias-in-the-classroom/
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