A number of fundamental changes have occurred this century in relation to what it means to be male or female. They emphasize the notion that femininity and masculinity are not necessarily innate categorise which pre-exist in each person and focus more on the idea that they are historically and socially constructed and united categories which are found in social institutions, procedures and practises including those of the home, school and workplace. Research has shown that what emerges as maleness and femaleness changes in a fundamental way over time, across cultures and in different socio-economic circumstances. Feminists and Post-structuralists have offered an invaluable contribution towards the idea of gender as a socially constructed and I am proposing to look at how they what they view gender as and the implication of their views in relation to education.
[...] has more recently been extended to the symbolic level, cultural ideals and stereo types of masculinity and femininity as well as at the structural level to the sexual division of labour in institutions and organisation not just being studies of individual identity.' (Gordon Marshall: 1994) Under the post-structuralists mode of thought the belief is that social institutions such as families, work and education shape women and men's lives. Through these ideas they look at how and why some groups benefit more than others do from the way society is structured. [...]
[...] The way teachers talk about girls and boys has significant results in the construction of gender for instance Walkerdin' (1994) showed how teachers talk about high achieving girls often drawing upon assumptions about femininity. Bright girls being often described as nice and hardworking but rarely being seen as having potential, unlike boys who are often labelled with this tag. Girls are often given powers of authority in the classroom, for example a monitor or prefect, yet although this could be viewed as appositive steps towards equity it often occurs because these positions are seen suitable for females as opposed to males therefore totally devaluing it. [...]
[...] Boys are also encouraged to be more active and outdoor they also more likely to receive toys such as bricks or Lego encouraging the idea of building which may immediately provide an advantage in areas of physics or maths. These toys may also affect children's aspirations therefore altering their commitment to education. Women may feel they just want to become a mother therefore not see education as important Research has shown that children do not learn how to be female or male passively they actively become gendered individuals through learning from the messages and practises they are exposed to. [...]
[...] Therefore since those giving the signals can be divided only into male or female /masculine or feminine it leaves gender open and those pieces that cause us to view gender as stable can be played around with. Whether post structuralism focuses on social structures or structures of meaning the point is that structuralism emphasise how individuals are constrained by greater forces that can influence the construction of gender. "The question of gender is a question of language.'(Barbara Johnson: 1987) Barbara Johnson's concise writings and ideas of the connection between gender and language assist the approach taken by a group of feminists who use post-structurlist ideas to support their own. [...]
[...] The information contained in these stereotypes is acquired during socialisation and reinforced by prevailing beliefs observations of the status quo and educational practises which themselves are influenced by the same stereotypes' (Colley: 1998) From the eighteenth century feminist have been campaigning for equality for women they campaigned tirelessly for access for women to vote and to be allowed to have an education. The second wave of feminism that began in the sixties involves different types of feminists however they overlapping ideas and have collectively had a profound impact upon women's rights within our education system. [...]
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