(Women Educational Foundation 7-8)Not only are students a factor that leads to gender biases in classrooms,but also books present in schools such as textbooks as well as popularaudience books can play a role in influencing gender gaps in the educationalatmosphere.
Obviously, these stereotypical characteristics are not born in theclassroom. Rather, they are deeply embedded in our historical roots,our cultural norms, and our families. Moreover, education is not toblame. In fact, educators are very often unaware of how theirteaching style may be perpetuating the problems (Sadker and Sadker,1986). However, educators can employ teaching strategies whichencourage movement toward gender equality in our classrooms and,perhaps, beyond them.
You can help pull down the barriers that keep girls from attending school and begin to bring change for women in developing countries. The most direct way is by easing the financial need that forces families to take their children out of school in the first place.
Dozens of international organizations are working to improve the livelihood of impoverished people. By building infrastructure and providing aid, vocational training, and education programs, they give families in developing countries resources to create healthy and stable lives. That takes the burden of mere survival off young women and gives them the time to get an education. With practical help and encouragement, girls are more likely to enroll and stay in school.
is encouraging all international organizations to come up with strategies for girls' education as part of their initial development plans. It has also started a movement to monitor school materials, facilities, and teachers to ensure that girls get a quality education that promotes appropriate perceptions of women, and that female students are given the same privileges as male students. All and other reputable organizations need now are the resources to fund their efforts.
You can help begin to change the lives of women around the world by making a financial gift or raising awareness about girls in the developing world today. Children In Need offers to people who want to help raise awareness of the issues tha impact children. You can support , , and . Or . The need is clear, and though the obstacles to ending gender discrimination are high, they are not insurmountable.
Some families decide it's more lucrative to send their daughters to a nearby town or city to get jobs that usually involve hard labor and little pay. That desperate need for income leaves girls easy prey to sex traffickers, particularly in Southeast Asia, where international tourism gorges the illegal industry. In Thailand, the sex trade has swelled without check into a main sector of the national economy. Families in small villages along the Chinese border are regularly approached by recruiters called "aunties" who ask for their daughters in exchange for six years' wages. Most Thai farmers earn only $150 a year. The offer can be too tempting to refuse.
The girls who are forced into prostitution to support their families often feel their burden deeply. "When I was at work, 50 percent of me hated what I was doing," said one 14-year-old girl, who felt conflicted about being taken out of a brothel in Chiang Mai, Thailand. "But the other 50 percent wanted to stay so that I could earn money for my parents. My father cannot work. He is very old and I must support the family. It is my job."
It's estimated that 1 million children around the world are involved in the sex trade; a third of all sex workers in Southeast Asia are between the ages of 12 and 17.
Education is the tool that can help break the pattern of gender discrimination and bring lasting change for women in developing countries.
Educated women are essential to ending gender bias, starting by reducing the poverty that makes discrimination even worse in the developing world. The most basic skills in literacy and arithmetic open up opportunities for better-paying jobs for women. Uneducated women in rural areas of Zambia, for instance, are twice as likely to live in poverty as those who have had eight or more years of education. The longer a girl is able to stay in school, the greater her chances to pursue worthwhile employment, higher education, and a life without the hazards of extreme poverty.
Women who have had some schooling are more likely to get married later, survive childbirth, have fewer and healthier children, and make sure their own children complete school. They also understand hygiene and nutrition better and are more likely to prevent disease by visiting health care facilities. The UN estimates that for every year a woman spends in primary school, the risk of her child dying prematurely is reduced by 8 percent.
Girls' education also means comprehensive change for a society. As women get the opportunity to go to school and obtain higher-level jobs, they gain status in their communities. Status translates into the power to influence their families and societies.
Even bigger changes become possible as girls' education becomes the cultural norm. Women can't defend themselves against physical and sexual abuse until they have the authority to speak against it without fear. Knowledge gives that authority. Women who have been educated are half as likely to undergo harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and four times as likely to protect their daughters from it. The Global Campaign for Education also states that a primary education defends women against HIV/AIDS infectiondisproportionately high for women in developing countriesby giving "the most marginalized groups in societynotably young womenthe status and confidence needed to act on information and refuse unsafe sex."
FGM and HIV/AIDS are too large to adequately address in this article, but they represent desperate challenges to the basic health and well-being of women in developing countries. to learn more about FGM, HIV/AIDS, and women in the developing world.
If the results of the test don't bother you initially, think about the fact that underqualified men were hired over more talented women. Wittenberg-Cox says you should reframe gender bias as a business issue, not a women's issue. "If managers are choosing less qualified men over more qualified women, the company is clearly losing valuable talent," she writes. "Even if hiring managers are choosing equally qualified men, if they're doing it in dramatically greater numbers (as the study above shows they do), the company is still missing an opportunity to build the kind of balanced workforce that we know produces more creative results."
Strategies for Fostering Gender Equity in the Classroom
Clearly, many negative gender stereotypes continue to shapeadolescents' beliefs and behaviors. What, then, can teachers do tobegin undermining these negative stereotypes? What can teachers do toencourage women to express themselves in the classroom? And, what canteachers do to foster empathy and listening skills in young men sothey will learn to value other perspectives? In short, teachers mustcreate an environment which gives women permission to speak. Teacherscan begin to do so by including all students, promoting respect,encouraging different learning styles, and broadening thecurriculum.
To help balance the gender gap in hiring, Wittenberg-Cox says leaders need to realize corporate America has a "preference for a masculine style of leadership" that is "deeply ingrained, largely unconscious, and reliably self-reinforcing." The first step to curb this unconscious bias is to "make it conscious," she writes.
Wittenberg-Cox says leaders need to start educating themselves and managers about the issue of gender bias instead of putting the burden on women to change themselves. "You can expect all your women to suddenly change their behavior and start overselling their skills, as the men in the study above did--but frankly, do you really want them to?" she writes. Research shows when women boast about their skills they are perceived negatively, instead of as confident and ambitious. You need to teach your staff, male and female, about the different behaviors men and women exhibit and how to effectively and accurately perceive them.
"Until hiring and promotion practices change, women can 'lean in' all they like, graduate in record numbers from top universities, and dominate buying decisions--but they still are much less likely to make it to the top," Wittenberg-Cox writes in HBR. "The corporate world is led by men confident that they are identifying talent objectively and effectively. The reality, underlined by this and many other reports, is that decision making about talent is rife with unconscious assumptions and personal biases."
If gender bias runs deep in the corporate world, that means HR policies are often rife with bias too. Wittenberg-Cox writes that many large companies consider "ambition" to be an important character trait for their leadership candidates. When candidates are seen as "ambitious," they're usually boasting, or overselling their talents--a trait studies have shown to be predominately male, she writes. Hiring managers typically believe erroneously that the most self-promotional candidates are objectively the best. "This does not make room to develop the majority of today's talent for tomorrow's world. Nor allow a variety of leadership styles to co-exist," she adds.
Although the governmental and non-governmental agencies have made momentous progress in achieving the rights of women through education, empowerment, and dynamic acts over the past century....
In order to ensure that our children, both boys and girls, receive equalopportunity in schools, educators like David Thomas and ourselves, needto stop and think of the biases we have within us.