Education is the most important right a child can get in his or her lifetime, either it is formal or informal education. According to the Cambridge dictionary, education is the process of teaching and learning or organizations such as schools where this process happens. Education is categorized into two types, formal and informal. This is because education is not only provided in a physical place but in society as a whole which can be interpreted in everyday life. According to OpenStax, education around the world, “Formal education describes the learning of academic facts and concepts through a formal curriculum.” while “informal education describes learning about cultural values, norms, and expected behaviors by participating in society.” (OpenStax). According to functionalist theorist Talcott Parsons, education performs the function of ‘secondary socialization.’ The school provides individuals with appropriate ideas on how to live and contribute to society. The school is a vital source of socialization. (Mustapha 2002) The conflict perspective, on the other hand, views the education system as a means of transmitting ruling-class values and ideologies. (Mustapha), and most importantly school. Plan international defines gender discrimination as “the situation in which people are treated differently simply because they are male or female, rather than on the basis of their individual skills or capabilities.” Gender discrimination may be viewed as a deterrent in most cases in the Caribbean, that is, “making someone less likely to do something by making it difficult for them to do it or by making them realize that it will have bad results.” (Cambridge Dictionary) Because most women are subjected to gender discrimination, stereotyping and assumption are one of the few reasons there is an inequality. As more females are enrolled in schools, they are introduced to the marked gender differences in secondary and tertiary schools, ultimately leading them to acquire the lower paying jobs in the labor market.
Stereotyping and assumptions are one of the main reasons why girls are not encouraged to achieve greatness at an early age. What is stereotyping? According to a Saul Mcleod in context to M. Cardwell, it is “…a fixed, over-generalized belief about a particular group or class of people.” (Cardwell, 1996). In the case of young girls, at an early age, they are being thought that girls would study to be a nurse and boys the doctor. Because as a society, they tend to categorize careers to gender girls are not encouraged to pursue their studies from a young age. The interactionist perspective gives an insight into “the manner in which pupils’ self-concepts are shaped during the process of schooling.” (Mustapha) A major issue under this perspective is that of labeling and the self-fulfillment prophecy, where pupils are labeled to roles and are expected to fulfill that labeled role. Linking this theory to the present date for example in the science field of studies like physics, girls are not so encouraged to take up the challenge and study this field because it is considered more masculine. Despite the idea of girls being discouraged to take on the route of careers in the masculine nature, there are some people that argue that girls would do well in the nursing field because women are more compassionate in times of tragedy or despair. To some extent, it justifies the encouragement to stick to female studies and careers. As plan international quoted “These attitudes limit girls’ power by rendering them less able to help contribute to making the world around them a better place.”
There comes a time in a young girl’s life where she has to decide what career to insert herself in. Because of the stereotype concept, she has been through in her young life she has been pushed into a gender-conforming career like that of teaching. As O’Reilly and Borman put in a research paper titled sexism and sex discrimination in education, “schools reward sex-role conformity, socializing girls for motherhood and boys for work and leadership.” In the case of a teaching career or any other career perceived as feminine, there is a large marked difference of female subordinates to male administrators. Functionalist theorist Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore (1945) perspective gives an important insight of bestowal of status, it encourages the sorting of students to appropriate courses that may shape them into the positions found in society’s labor force. The ideology of training girls and boys for specific roles in society is a constant reminder that we are not encouraging girls to explore scientific realms and break gender barriers. However, the impact of women’s liberation indicated that girls are paying more attention to education and less to the domestic roles they have been taught. All is not lost because girls are now making breakthrough discoveries like that of scientist Katie Bowman who recently made the development of algorithms to provide a picture of a black hole.
It is evident, that in Belize, the labor force is male-dominated and women are perceived as incompetent to fulfill the space of mid-management and senior roles. According to O’Rielly and Borman “Classrooms in the university are predominantly managed by male faculty since women in higher education make up 25 percent of all full-time faculty.” The low numbers of women in administrative roll show that men dominate the labor force in the education sector. As stated in paragraph two, men are believed to be better leaders and trained to fulfill this role whereas, ‘Women in teaching roles… Are confined to positions in classroom teaching, unable to move easily into administrative ranks. (O’Reilly, Borman). To this date, if women have the qualifications to take on the role of a chief executive officer, or administrator; chances are if a male obtains similar degrees and experience it is likely he will receive the job opportunity. According to the global economy, statistics taken in 2012 showed that 83.17 percent of men made up the labor force and 54.53 percent were women. The numbers indicate that indeed men dominate the force despite women qualifying for jobs. Though this is a reoccurring issue, in some cases women are highly sought after in some companies or firms and are heading men for once.
To summate, one does not have to look further than our own shores to witness the debacle holding our progress of women in education hostage. In this nation discrimination against gender is a powerful tool that has wormed its way into the minds of many. We are built on the rules of the old world instilling putrid ideas into the minds of women telling them that they can only be a housewife, or a secretary but nothing higher. Yet across the globe women continue to achieve great things. On April 10th, 2019 Katie Bouman brought the world the first ever image of a black hole. A monumental achievement for the young astrophysicist. Great potential lies in all women of any age who choose to chase great things, in order to achieve this our minds must change our way of thinking and fight for ultimate equality in gender.