Term Paper: Gender Equity in Education

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[. . .] Moreover, the authors state (p. 14) that because of the "loss of academic achievement," girls suffer: eating disorders; sexual harassment; pregnancy; problems with self-esteem; "economic penalties...after graduation."

In Chapter Three, authors again hammer the theme that girls are ignored in the classroom, and they write that when the raising of the hand rule is "swept aside" by teachers (p. 43), and it comes down to shouting for attention, "boys call out eight times more often than girls." Why? Because "teachers respond" to boys, whereas when girls call out, "Suddenly the teacher remembers the rule about raising your hand before you talk." (Certainly, from this writer's experience in the classroom, the authors' assertions seem exaggerated. But, on the other hand, the book was published in 1994, and one wonders if the changing times make their claims a bit out of date in 2003.)

The authors, in their research approach, have videotaped classroom dynamics and have played the tape back to numerous teachers. "...Most teachers are stunned to see themselves teaching subtle gender lessons along with math and spelling" (p. 46), they report. The authors allude to "star students" (boys with hands constantly up, who have all the answers, or at least need to be called upon) as "green-arms." Their research shows that in a "typical class of twenty-five students, two or three 'green-arm' students may capture 25% of the teacher's attention." And in that "typical classroom" (p. 50) they found that about 10% of the students were green-arms, 70% "nominal" - they might ask or answer one or two questions per class - and the remaining 20% say little if anything. And as to the ethnic breakdown of students in their computer printouts of elementary school research, students "most likely to receive teacher attention were white males"; next most likely, "minority males"; third most likely, white females; and the least likely - minority females. And all this occurs in elementary schools where "receiving attention from the teacher is enormously important for the student's achievement and self-esteem." The chapter is liberally spiced with full-page Doonesbury cartoons, all of which play on the theme that girls get little classroom attention while boys get most of it.

The lack of gender fairness is evident even on the playground, according to the authors. A freeze-frame series of "snapshots" (p. 59) show an all-male soccer game taking over most of the schoolyard, while a few girls play on swings, jump rope, and sail paper boats in a puddle. If you substitute "white and black for male and female, the segregation screams out," they write. "There are two separate, alien, unequal nations, two separate societies that are walled off by gender but left undisturbed." This is just "education as usual," and since many of us were schooled this way, they add, "...It didn't seem to hurt us. Or did it?" While the authors make some valid points about classroom dynamics, they seem just a bit out of touch when they talk about playground activities. Of course boys generally play on one side of the playground, and girls another; and it may not be fair that boys take over most of the playground with their soccer game. But, in time, by high school, there will be ample evidence of boys and girls together - and also, if boys don't burn off that energy during play time, they'll be more restless and distracting in the classroom. That's a fact of life for a teacher.

Self-esteem is covered in Chapter Four, with plenty of statistics. In elementary school, 67% of boys said "I'm happy the way I am." But by high school, the percentage of boys agreeing to that statement dropped 21 points, to 46%. And for girls, the drop was more dramatic: 60% said they were happy about themselves in elementary, but only 37% answered "affirmatively in middle school" (p. 78), and only 29% in high school. The authors develop this theme throughout the chapter (titled, "The Self-Esteem Slide"), concluding with this: "The girl who once laid claim to the top of the slide does not go into the playground anymore...no longer is she at the peak of her world...instead she walks cautiously, wary of the traps around her."

In Chapter Eight, the boys who rose to the top of the class in elementary now pay a price, and often "land at the bottom" in high school. And since boys have learned, from their "earliest days...a destructive form of division - how to separate themselves from girls," even though they now may fall short, they are still ahead of the game because "they are not girls."

These books are certainly legitimate and interesting, and clearly authentic works of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Gender Equity in Education.  (2003, July 23).  Retrieved June 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gender-equity-education-taking/7076483

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"Gender Equity in Education."  Essaytown.com.  July 23, 2003.  Accessed June 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gender-equity-education-taking/7076483.