3 Signs of Gender Discrimination in the Classroom You Need to Know

There are 3 signs of gender discrimination in the classroom that you need to know which are behavioral discriminations, achievement discrimination, and developmental discrimination. This articles discusses each sign and provides key components you need to know to avoid discrimination against boys and girls in the classroom.

The differences between boys and girls are sometimes celebrated and sometimes lamented. Boys and girls do have differences, and historically, this has led to inequality. In the past the dominant belief was that a woman’s place was in the home, so girls didn’t need the same level and type of education as boys. And in many professions, women weren’t welcome and were told they couldn’t possibly handle the work.

Today, girls and women have many more opportunities. Women make up a large percentage (sometimes the majority) of college and university enrollment, and they have access to professions that were traditionally male dominated. Although great strides have been made in the realm of women’s equality, there is still a long way to go, hampered by the problem of cultural stereotypes that affect boys and girls from the day they are born. Examples include: pink clothes for girls and blue for boys; dolls for girls and trucks for boys; girls can cry, but boys cannot; and dance class for girls and football for boys. There are so many differences in the way that boys and girls are raised that, by the time they get to school, it can be very difficult for teachers to treat them equally and overcome the gender stereotypes they’ve already been taught.

Research shows many differences in the way boys and girls are treated in the classroom and shows that differences in treatment by teachers and other school personnel may be both conscious and subconscious. Teachers tend to pay more attention to boys than girls by having more interactions with them. They tolerate behavior in boys that they don’t tolerate in girls, and they tend to provide boys with more criticism and praise. Differences in the extra attention given to boys are due in part to the fact that boys simply tend to demand more attention, while girls tend to be quieter and more reticent. Boys tend to dominate classroom discussion, and they also access computers and technology more often than girls do.

The types and levels of courses predominated by males and females continue to differ. Boys are still more likely to enroll in mathematics, science, and engineering than girls and are more likely to take advanced courses in these subject areas. This enrollment pattern is not true for biology, English, and foreign languages, where more girls tend to enroll in advanced courses. Overall, women are underrepresented in professions that center on mathematics, science, engineering, medicine, and business leadership.

Some believe gender bias no longer exists and contend that boys are not more accommodated than girls in the classroom. They suggest that boys’ needs are often overlooked, because boys learn best when they have more frequent opportunities to get up and move around and engage in classroom debates—classroom activities that are often discouraged. Proponents also focus on the fact that the gaps in education levels between boys and girls have virtually closed since 1970. And now, even though girls still lag behind boys in mathematics and science, girls in high school do better than boys in reading, writing, and other academic subjects; earn more credits; are more likely to get honors; and are more likely to further their education at colleges or universities.

Although some might argue that it is difficult to see gender bias in schools, without question, in terms of money earned, there is a gender bias in the workforce. The average income of women with a high school diploma is 85% of that of men with the same level of education, and that figure drops to 80% for college graduates. The workforce data indicate that there is a level of gender bias in the school system, even if it is somewhat hidden. Gender bias is evident as students move into the workforce. Men are more likely to be given jobs with higher status and higher salaries than women.

Single-sex education (a school or program teaches only one sex) has often been mentioned as a remedy for the diminished self-concept girls must experience in schools where gender bias exists. Although Title IX, part of the Education Amendments of 1972, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity, in 2006, the U.S. Education Department ruled that this did not apply to single-sex education, as long as attendance in such institutions was voluntary and students had access to coeducational classes and programs. As a result, single-sex education has increased in popularity, although its efficacy is debated. Many feel that girls have more leadership roles and more opportunities in a single-sex school, yet others argue that if co-educational schools were truly gender fair, there would be no need to separate girls from boys.

The debate about whether gender differences are determined more by biology or society continues, but one thing is clear: Gender awareness is central to working in schools where adolescents are the predominant school population. In the middle school years, parents and teachers often observe a distinct shift in interest levels and in personality among students, as raging hormones take over. Early adolescence is often spent in a cloud, struggling with questions of what it means to be female and what it means to be male. All too often, this has a profound impact on academic performance. Male and female brain development occurs in different areas of the brain, at dissimilar rates. This leads to disparity and discrepancy in the ability to master the material successfully. Moreover, middle-school students often appear to be frustrated with learning. The natural curiosity of elementary school children with their inquisitive enthusiasm for school suddenly disappears under distraction due to social and physical development, apathy, and a torrent of hormone-induced emotion.

Gender can be viewed as a social construct with culturally based expectations of appropriate behavior for girls and boys. Physiological differences in girls and boys also impact their learning and behavior. It’s important for teachers to understand both the social construct of gender and the physiological differences, to ensure that the school culture and climate support the development of girls and boys. School culture refers to the values, traditions, and infrastructure in each school. These characteristics govern how the school functions as an entity. School climate is a collective, descriptive label for the social interactions and relationships among students—with each other and with their teachers—and teachers’ interactions with their peers and administrators.

Recent studies have shown there are relatively few differences between the way that boys and girls learn. As a matter of fact, there are more differences within each gender than there are between the genders, especially for academic ability.

As a teacher, you should make a concerted effort to be gender neutral, realizing that boys and girls are equally capable of doing all things academic, with neither group having a distinct advantage. If we don’t create a gender-neutral environment in our classrooms, then we are doing our students a huge disservice and perpetuating self-fulfilling prophecies that may hinder our students from reaching their fullest potential.

Despite Eliot’s assertions, some differences between male and female learning may be rooted in physiology. Some studies have shown that the areas of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills mature earlier in girls than in boys. This may be one reason why more boys are identified with behavior issues, attention disorders, and learning disabilities. One solution would involve schools’ restructuring the environment to arrange more time for movement, and teachers’ becoming more noise tolerant. “Silent and seated” is not a comfortable learning condition for boys, whose brains require more physical movement.

Socialization styles also influence learning climate preferences among girls and boys. Girls tend to prefer a noncompetitive learning environment and cooperative learning situations. Boys enjoy the competition and find the win–lose structure motivational. Girls are more organized, take better notes, keep journals, set goals for themselves, and ask teachers for help and clarification. Boys do not take advantage of help as often.

By being aware of these signs of discrimination, Educators can work to create a learning environment that acknowledges these internal and external discriminations but strives to diminish them and ensure a classroom of equality.

0 Replies to “3 Signs of Gender Discrimination in the Classroom You Need to Know”

  1. The belief boys should be strong allows aggressive treatment from infancy to create anger and fear so they will be tough. There is less kind verbal interaction and less mental/emotional support for fear of coddling. This treatment creates high layers of average stress for boys. These layers remain in the mind taking away real mental energy from academics so they will have to work harder to receive the same mental reward. This harsh treatment creates emotional distance/distrust of others. It creates lags in communication girls are given daily. The high average stress creates activity for stress relief not genetics. The high average stress creates higher muscle tension which hurts handwriting more pressure tighter grip hurting motivation. The total effect with our false genetic models in place including less care creates more failure and feelings of hopelessness. To make it tougher for boys is granting love honor feelings of self-worth only on condition of achievement. This was designed to keep Male esteem low and be willing to give their lives in war for tidbits of love honor from society. Males not achieving are given ridicule and discipline to make them try harder. Support is not given for fear of coddling. Many boys falling behind in school turn their attention to sports and video games for small measures of love honor not received in school. The belief boys should be strong and false belief in genetics create denial of the harsh treatment which is creating the low academics low esteem and other problems boys are facing. This is not about more feelings or openness from boys; it is about society allowing aggressive treatment from infancy through adulthood so boys feel much wariness toward parents teachers others who freely use aggressive treatment for any sign of weakness. This is condoned by society. This problem is affecting all male children and adults but the lower the socioeconomic bracket and more time in lower areas the more amplified the treatment given male children by parents teachers peers.
    As girls we are given much more mental emotional social physical support and care by parents teachers and peers. We enjoy a kind of reverse catharsis of much continuous care while the boys receive the opposite more hurtful treatment to make them strong. This is now killing off boys in the information age while providing girls with all of the good things. As girls we are treated much better and so enjoy more hope and support from society. Since we as girls are given by differential treatment much more continual positive – mental social/emotional support verbal interaction and care from an early age onward this creates the opposite outcome for girls when compared with boys. We receive love and honor simply for being girls. This creates all of the good things. We have lower average stress for ease of learning. We enjoy much more freedom of expression from much protection by society that makes us look more unstable at times but we can also use that same freedom of expression to give verbal silent abuse and hollow kindness/patronization to our Male peers with impunity knowing we are protected. We enjoy much lower muscle tension for ease in handwriting and motivation to write. We enjoy much more positive trust/communication from parents teachers peers and support for perceived weaknesses. We are reaping a bonanza in the information age. Now with girls and women taking over many areas of society we enjoy even more lavishing of love and honor from society while boys and men are now failing more so and are now given more ridicule and abuse by society. Mind you this is now coming from many girls and women using our still protected freedoms of expression and more so with now false feelings of superiority.

    1. I love your post. That is profound and true. You put into words many things that I have thought but never knew how to express. Sadly, your observations are not fashionable in today’s culture, but I enjoyed reading — and re-reading your words. Thanks.

  2. I love your post. That is profound and true. You put into words many things that I have thought but never knew how to express. Sadly, your observations are not fashionable in today’s culture, but I enjoyed reading — and re-reading your words. Thanks.

  3. I went to public schools in the 90’s, and after Hillary Clinton and the AAUW lied to Congress about a “girl crisis”, I noticed a dramatic shift in my female teachers. They would often or subtly favor female students. The one instance that stands out is, in the 6th grade two of my classmates, a boy and a girl, were having a purely academic debate, The female teacher watched intently, and when the girl clearly lost, she slightly frowned. Then the girl hauled off and kicked the boy in the genitals. The teacher smiled and went back to grading papers. Throughout the years I would notice female teachers giving more privileges to female students. The worst was female guidance counselors. They seemed to sabotage my education intentionally.

    The first, during class selection(were she was supposed to be giving guidance) she spent 15-20 minutes on a female student, but then rushed me through in under 5 minutes, I was a severely at risk student. Undiagnosed brain injury from birth(didn’t figure that out until long after the statue of limitations expired for receiving compensation), and selective mutism as well as other problems from early childhood abuse(with one of my abusers being a female teacher who targeted me for physical, verbal and social abuse). She pushed me down a course selection that I wasn’t qualified for remotely, and I went along with it because of how passive I was.

    That and with problems at home, I ended up skipping school alot because I was in classes I had zero chance of ever getting a good grade in.

    It caused alot of mental health issues and with problems at home, I ended up moving in with my mom. The guidance counselor at the new school, was worse. Openly rude, harsh voice and complete dismissal of me as a human being. She had a clear “I don’t want to waste time with you” vibe.

    Because she didn’t do her job on account of my gender, I ended up dropping out. Mental breakdown a few weeks before graduation.

    College was even worse, as the community college instructor was an outright psychotic bigots that would tell bold faced lies about history to bash men, so I ended up having to go to a far more expensive private school to just get away from the mass institutional sexism.

    The school itself was OK. The instructors were no longer bigots, but the sheer amount of chauvinism among my female classmates was appalling. Hate speech rules were often ignored though, and the first time it happened should of been a giant red flag to bail. My course selection(entry accounting/clerical program), was a giant mistake. At the time I didn’t grasp my intellectual disabilities, but after I did, it ruined my long term plan(already had book-keeping experience in the labor force, so was thinking of going the accounting route. For basic accounting and book-keeping, sure I was a wizard, but with a severe mathematical intelligence disability, once things got to a certain point I was completely fubarred).

    After graduating from the program(with a 3.5 GPA, after I had to take a zero for a semester for mental health reasons after losing my job due to being sexually harassed/hours reduced for turning down my supervisors unwanted advances) I realized the “glass floor” was thing.

    My name is not typical for males, so, yeah. Employers loved my resume, but as soon as they realized my gender, that was the end of it. In hindsight I should of been documenting, things are what they are though. Male employers wanted eye candy, female employers wanted to keep their office primarily a female space with a token male. With one female employer outright discriminating against me in a cruel manner. It was a government contract company(Sally Mae), all the supervisors in the facility appeared to be female. The interview seemed to go OK, and alot of the employees seemed friendly(probably too friendly for obvious reasons), but after the interview it was radio silence.

    For a few years during that time period, I paid attention to gender discrimination stuff in the news. It could be a 110% coincidence, but after the final appeal for that dental assistant lawsuit(dental assistant was fired for being too attractive), within 5 minutes Sally Mae finally responded with a “You did great on our testing and interview, but we decided to go with someone else”. At the time, it seemed directly linked and I just kind of gave up.

    With my health problems and the effects of past abuse and discrimination(social anxiety, likely avoidant personality disorder), the one line of work I could do, I was effectively barred from. Sure, for people I knew I did light book-keeping work around tax season for pocket change, and donated blood, it ain’t right.

    I’m nearly 40 years old. Typing that out is a hell of a thing. Never been in a relationship and I have no friends. Not because of a defect that causes others to want nothing to do with me, but because I just can’t do it anymore, and prefer to remain a recluse. “Prefer”, poor word choice, but I digress.

    Sure over the years I had gals try to court me, with a few openly addressing the elephant in the room in regards to my economic non viability, but my wounds run too deep. These day’s I write poetry while trying to work up the courage to branch out(In English writing, classmates loved my short stories, but how do I write about life, when I never really got a chance to live?). In terms of formal poetry, it is a club for the rich and their pet academicians, and for chauvinistic interests of varying degrees. In life I’ve always been the outsider in all things, but the desire that drives me forward, is for my cries to reach across the centuries. A bit grandiose, but sometimes grandiose dreams make life worth living.

    Lets be honest. We all know the institutional discrimination is vast. No one speaks about it became girls, young women and women benefit from it and control many of the levers of the institutions discriminating against boys, young men and men. Ask yourself this “Why is no one asking the victims? Why is no one asking boy’s, young men and men about their experiences?”. That is what cements it in my heart and mind as being intentional.

    How much suffering has been inflicted because of women’s desire for revenge over the mistakes and failings of prior generations? What is the end result of this madness? In Sweden, were more often then not the worst of it happens, the Swedish people are going extinct. Low birthrate coupled with a clear large amount of male Swedes, refusing to marry or even date, Swedish women. Society acts as if men are just brute beats, that if you cut us we don’t bleed, if you hurt us we don’t cry, and no matter how much we are abused we are expected to fulfill social obligations towards women and be an accessory in their lives. Like a purse or lapdog.

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