In the year 1972, there was a law passed stating that nobody within the United States of America shall be excluded, denied the benefits or discriminated based on sex from any educational activity or program receiving financial assistance from the federal government.
However, this law is more recognized within the field of athletics compared to equality in the provision of educational instruction, and there is still much controversy surrounding its definition as well as its practical application. In the year 1992, there was a blue ribbon panel which claimed that the education department reaffirmed its commitment to equal opportunities for girls and boys and that the debate about gender equality in education is a continuous work in progress. This article, therefore, discusses contemporary equality issues in education.
Below are some of the reasons equality issues exist in education:
- Gender bias in the classroom
Even today, there is subtle but very potent gender basis within most classrooms, and the discrepancy between equitable and biased teaching is at times impossible for a teacher to discern. One way through which this can be discerned is the employment of thoughtful strategies of instruction that promote equality among all genders. Teachers also need to be educated and guided on the most effective methods of spotting and eradicating any biases.
- The gender gap
Many would argue that the gender gap is fast diminishing and that most differences exist within gender groups in comparison to differences between the genders. Race, ethnicity, disability, and differences in economic states are a more glaring indicator of inequality in comparison to gender. Nevertheless, the gender discrepancy continues to exist as exhibited by boys’ generally poor performance in language and communication, e.g., mastery of spoken language as well as writing the various kinds of essays such as the process essay among others. Girls, on the other hand, fail to partake equally in science, math, and engineering. Educators are supposed to start at the elementary level and to have the awareness that equality issues within education are much more than maintaining the same number of girls and boys in a classroom.
- Teacher influence
Even though the majority of teachers believe that they give equal treatment to boys and girls, research about equality issues within the educational sector has proven that they frequently fail to do so. The sex of the teacher appears to have very little effect on the outcome. It is the students’ sex that makes the difference. For instance, boys tend to receive more teacher attention (criticism, praise, acceptance, and remediation), especially in math and science classes. Boys also receive more severe punishment compared to girls. Maybe this reinforces the concept that there are higher expectations for boys.
- Teaching techniques
Within the classroom, instruction is often directed more towards the learning methodologies of white males, which tend to be competitive and individualistic. On the contrary, the majority of ladies prefer cooperation in place of competition. Therefore, they tend to have higher productivity in cooperative learning and group discussions. Between the ages of 8 to 9 years, girls are normally assertive and confident. However, at the end of adolescence, they have a poor self-image, low in self-confidence, and have limited views about the future. Reasons for this state of affairs are being researched, and this means learning institutions need to periodically review their policies, programs, and procedures in search of evidence of gender discrimination work towards enhancing equity.
- School attitudes
Across most schools, there is a generally permissive attitude to sexual harassment. This tends to socialize girls as inferior. If teachers are not sensitized towards the socialization of gender roles and the biases in the messages they inadvertently impart to students each day, and unless they are provided with the techniques and resources needed in eliminating gender-bias within the classroom, girls will continue to experience inequality in education.
- Curriculum standards
It is obvious that gender roles have been deeply ingrained into the social fabric. What’s more, the use of a curriculum that is gender biased and hidden within the curriculum leads to inequality in education for boys and girls. All tutors need to be sensitized towards gender biased tendencies. Education stakeholders need to develop a guiding framework that can lead to alteration of such behaviors.
Next, there needs to be a great effort in ensuring that gender biases are eliminated within the current educational materials. This is particularly necessary for materials such as textbooks and other literature in general.
In conclusion, gender equality has shifted from the sidelines to the center of the modern educational system. Dealing with the residual equality issues within the modern educational system will ensure that indeed, education belongs to all.