REG NUMBER: W180051
INTRODUCTION TO GENDER STUDIES
LECTURER: MR D. SIAMPONDO
Question: Evaluate how schools and religion as institutions of socialization can reinforce gender discrimination. 100 marks
The paper evaluates the assertion on how schools and religion as institutions of socialization can reinforce gender discrimination. According to Bigler (2013), gender discrimination is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender, but it is particularly demonstrated as affecting women and girls. However, it has been linked to stereotypes and gender roles and may include the belief that one gender is intrinsically superior to another.
The school is a secondary socialization forces and teachers are the chief socialization, argues, Mulrine (2001). Sadker (1994) claims that, I quote, “Sitting in the same classroom, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher, boys and girls receive very different educations.” In fact, upon entering school, girls perform equal to or better than boys on nearly every measure of achievement, but by the time they graduate high school or college, they have fallen behind. However, discrepancies between the performance of girls and the performance of boys in elementary education leads some critics to argue that boys are being neglected within the education system. For example, in Canada, boys have never been in more trouble, they earn 70 percent of the D’s and F’s that teachers dole out. They make up two thirds of students labelled “learning disabled.” They are the culprits in a whopping 9 of 10 alcohol and drug violations and the suspected perpetrators in 4 out of 5 crimes that end up in juvenile court. They account for 80 percent of high school dropouts and attention deficit disorder diagnoses.
In the view of Raj (2013), primary education is the genesis into oppression and exclusion of a girl child. However, for example, most primary books, give illustrations of girls doing domestic work, whilst boys do work outside the home. The books further give illustrations of women being confined in the private sphere, whilst men are seen in the public sphere. These illustrations are instilled in the minds of the young children as they grow up, they automatically practise the illustrations. Practising the illustration further exclude the girl child from being active in the public sphere were there are a number of economic activities that empower an individual. In secondary school, there was an issue that as a class we felt very strongly about and wanted to raise awareness about. This issue started as the simple question of ‘Why do girls do Home Economics (HE) and boys do Wood Work (WW)?’ This question sparked an interest in all of us and got us thinking about gender equality in school subjects and how school subjects can be gender biased.
Marshall and Reihartz (2009) demonstrates that, the socialization of gender within our schools assures that girls are made aware that they are unequal to boys. Every time students are seated or lined up by gender, teachers are affirming that girls and boys should be treated differently. For example, when an administrator ignores an act of sexual harassment, he or she is allowing the degradation of girls. When different behaviours are tolerated for boys than for girls because ‘boys will be boys’, schools are perpetuating the oppression of females.
Bailey (2006) claims that, “Girls in grades six and seven rate being popular and well-liked as more important than being perceived as competent or independent. Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to rank independence and competence as more important.” However, 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 performance and ability are not as important.
A permissive attitude towards sexual harassment is another way in which schools reinforce the socialization of girls as inferior. “When schools ignore sexist, racist, homophobic, and violent interactions between students, they are giving tacit approval to such behaviours” ,further argues Bailey (2006) ,yet boys are taunted for throwing like a girl, or crying like a girl, which implies that being a girl is worse than being a boy. According to the American Association of University Women Report, “The clear message to both boys and girls is that girls are not worthy of respect and that appropriate behaviour for boys includes exerting power over girls or over other, weaker boys.”
Clearly the socialization of gender is reinforced at school, “Because classrooms are microcosms of society, mirroring its strengths and ills alike, it follows that the normal socialization patterns of young children that often lead to distorted perceptions of gender roles are reflected in the classrooms.” (Marshall, 1997) Yet gender bias in education reaches beyond socialization patterns, bias is embedded in textbooks, lessons, and teacher interactions with students. This type of gender bias is part of the hidden curriculum of lessons taught implicitly to students through the every day functioning of their classroom.
In a research, it was noted that four types of teacher responses to students: teacher praises, providing positive feedback for a response; teacher remediates, encouraging a student to correct or expand their answer; teacher criticizes, explicitly stating that the answer is incorrect; teacher accepts, acknowledging that a student has responded. Sadker (1994) found that boys were far more likely to receive praise or remediation from a teacher than were girls. The girls were most likely to receive an acknowledgement response from their teacher. These findings are confirmed by a 1990 study by Good and Brophy that “noted that teachers give boys greater opportunity to expand ideas and be animated than they do girls and that they reinforce boys more for general responses than they do for girls.”
Gender bias in education is an insidious problem that causes very few people to stand up and take notice. The victims of this bias have been trained through years of schooling to be silent and passive, and are therefore unwilling to stand up and make noise about the unfair treatment they are receiving. “Over the course of years the uneven distribution of teacher time, energy, attention, and talent, with boys getting the lion’s share, takes its toll on girls” says Bigler (2013). Teachers are generally unaware of their own biased teaching behaviours because they are simply teaching how they were taught and the subtle gender inequities found in teaching materials are often overlooked. According to Raj (2013), girls and boys today are receiving separate and unequal educations due to the gender socialization that takes place in our schools and due to the sexist hidden curriculum students are faced with every day. Unless teachers are made aware of the gender-role socialization and the biased messages they are unintentionally imparting to students everyday, and until teachers are provided with the methods and resources necessary to eliminate gender-bias in their classrooms, girls will continue to receive an inequitable education.
Religion as an institution of socialization can reinforce gender discrimination. Religious discrimination against women is alive and thriving. The texts of the Torah, Bible and Quran preach discrimination against women, degradation and subjugation of women, and even violence against women. McCormick (1995) demonstrates that, Religion is being used to oppress and exclude women whilst men are raised in high esteem. In the Christian society, verses in the book of Genesis are used whereby it is said, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” ( Genesis 3:16) . And also from the bible, Ephesians 5:22-24 says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” These verses instruct women to be obedient and submissive to their husbands which promotes gender discrimination.
And not to forget what Saint Peter also said about the necessity for women to submit to their husbands: “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” He said women should be submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. For example, this passage could be interpreted to mean that if you are a woman married to a psychopathic, violent husband, you must submit to him, obey his every whim, allow him to abuse and beat you regularly, at the same time as you try to change his ways by means of the example of your long-suffering obedience, purity, and piety. Your reward for all this will be eternal life in heaven – shame about your life on earth. However it’s probably all part of God’s inscrutable, and undoubtedly wonderful plan for women.
This brings us to another fascinating example of wondrous discrimination against women in the Bible claims Bailey (2006) , the stoning of girls who were not virgins on their wedding night. And what about men who were not virgins on their wedding night? Why were only women stoned for not being virgins on their wedding night, and not men? Nowhere in the Bible does God talk of punishing men for not being virgins on their wedding night. God only tells us in these books that women must be punished. This is but one extreme example of the many instances of discrimination against women in the Bible. As a result, Christianity in some churches has been used to exclude women from pastoral and elderly positions whilst elevating men only, women are given other lower positions. For example, in the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
In Christianity, there are other verses that considers women as sinful. Humans are doomed to die because they are born out of unclean women. Original sin, inherent sinfulness, and uncleanliness are all used as justification for the atrocities perpetrated upon women throughout history. All manner of Christian sects during the last 2000 years have found all manner of Bible verses justifying discrimination against women, violence against women, and even religiously sanctioned rape of captive women.
In the Islam religion, ironically, the counter-jihad movement sings from the same hymn-sheet as Muslim extremists by promoting a literal, decontextualized and patriarchal interpretation of Islam. Klein (2005) further demonstrates that Radical Muslims preach the importance of women being confined to the private sphere; the only possible praiseworthy role, we are told, is mother and wife. However, by persuading them to withdraw from public life, these extremist preachers disempower women by denying them their economic self-determination, and ultimately silence them through their invisibility.
In the view of Jones (2007) et.al, In the Qur’an, there are chapters were women are regarded as inferior and when men pray, they praise Allah for making them men. They even ridicule women in their prayers. However, also in Islam, women are treated as property, they are not allowed to stand before men, they are not allowed to talk to men who are not their relatives, they are not allowed to expose any part of their body in public, this entails, gender discrimination for women and girl children, whilst men and boys are not restricted.
Hindus are said to be the least educated religion in the world according to Raj (2013). One important reason why the Hindus have such a poor educational record is the huge discrimination against women. Hindus record on this front was even worse than among Muslims where the differential was only 1.5 years, just about half that of Hindus. However, the large gap in years of schooling between Hindu men and women also is in sharp contrast to the more egalitarian record of other major religions. For instance the years of schooling for men and women were the same in the case of Jews while the gap was a low 0.8 years for Christians and 1.1 for Buddhists.
In conclusion, this paper discussed how schools and religion as institutions of socialization can reinforce gender discrimination. Discrimination of women starts at birth. Gender lines are drawn early, and exclusions for women continue until adulthood. From the moment we are conceived, both boys and girls are subjected to stereotypes. The baby aisle in stores is filled with blue blankets and clothes for boys, while adjacent aisles are filled with pink for girls. Gender discrimination and disparity should be relegated and we promote gender equality and equity.REFERENCES
Bailey, S. (2006) How Schools Short change Girls: The AAUW Report. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company.
Jones, K., Evans, C., Byrd, R., Campbell, K. (2000) Gender equity training and teaching behaviour. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 27 (3), 173-178.
Klein, S. (2005) Handbook for Achieving Sex Equity Through Education. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Marshall, C.S. & Reihartz, J. (2009) Gender issues in the classroom. Clearinghouse, 70 (6), 333-338.
McCormick, P. (1995) Are girls taught to fail? U.S. Catholic, 60, (2), 38-42.
Mulrine, A. (2001) Are Boys the Weaker Sex? U.S. News & World Report, 131 (4), 40-48.
Raj R (2013), Female gender as a risk factor, Volume 3, Issue 1, page 14.
Bigler R (2013), Gender Differences, Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem and the Confidence Gap. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Sadker, D., Sadker, M. (1994) Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls. Toronto, ON: Simon & Schuster Inc.