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Oomandra Nath Varma February 2010 Id: 9603163 Supervisor: Dr Prof Sheila Bunwaree Gender Identity Construction in Primary Schools.

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Presentation on theme: "Oomandra Nath Varma February 2010 Id: 9603163 Supervisor: Dr Prof Sheila Bunwaree Gender Identity Construction in Primary Schools."— Presentation transcript:

1 Oomandra Nath Varma February 2010 Id: Supervisor: Dr Prof Sheila Bunwaree Gender Identity Construction in Primary Schools

2 Introduction Background to the study Justification Global Gender Gap Index Mauritius 85 th among 128 countries (covering 90% of the world’s population) WTF, Challenging gender inequality is equivalent to challenging “one of the most deeply entrenched of all human attitudes”.

3 Gender inequality The facts Scores based on the analysis of 128 countries, constituting 90 percent of the total world’s population Source: The Global Gender Gap Report, 2007, p.118

4 Long term consequences of gender inequality “Countries that do not capitalize on the full potential of one half of their societies are misallocating their human resources and undermining their competitive potential… Even in light of heightened international awareness of gender issues, it is a disturbing reality that no country has yet managed to eliminate the gender gap” (Lopez-Claros & Zahidi, WEF, 2005, p1; WEF, 2007, p ).

5 The problem worldwide “…even in developed countries whose dependence on knowledge industries and knowledge workers is large and growing, there are still significant gaps in the job opportunities for women and in the wages paid to women compared to their male counterparts and these gaps are even larger in most developing countries.” (WEF, pg. 20)

6 Lack of commitment to equality Awareness of the fact that “women account for half of the world’s population and half of its talent” and that “the costs of not developing and using this talent are huge” does not seem to provide enough argument to warrant a translation of the commitment to equality into reality in key spheres such as political empowerment and economic participation (pg. 20).

7 Why gender? This research is based on the contention that we need to probe further for understanding ‘gender’ dimensions of inequality in society, and thereby assess the consequences that gender has in determining the life chances of any individual. The school as one of the main agencies of reproduction is primarily responsible for the perpetuation of the status-quo

8 School as a perpetrator of inequality School as strategic agencies Gendered outcome of schooling Children developing a multiple sense of self Successful negotiation of position of dominance Social actions reinforce dominant patriarchal structures (Giddens) Effects of older cultural practices on current social routines (Bourdieu) Positive evaluation of masculine practices

9 Theoretical background Some theoretical basis Schools as arenas of oppression - Freire School as state ideological apparatuses (Althusser) School as instrument of structures of inequality (Bourdieu) Secondary effects of stratification (Boudon) The situation Equality of access v/s parity- but parity is not equal to equality UNESCO target 2015 seems unattainable Some questions Should we therefore go beyond the mere consideration of access to schools We seem to be playing the game of “safe Patriarchy”- that is, failure to raise the real question; and play it safe by raising questions that does not question the basis of inequality. Ability of some agents to get their way through without raising consciousness of the ‘crowd’

10 Focus of the study Main focus Gender identity construction Primary schools Analysing the hidden processes Hidden mechanisms and processes within schools Understanding the power of the ‘informal organisation’ and how it is present among children, i.e. how children’s construction of the informal structure of authority and power. Discovering the child as agent Children as thinking and acting individuals Active agent in development of gendered power structure- the dominant v/s ‘the compliant’ Existing conflicts between egalitarianism and inequality. Failure of schools to be sites of change and emancipation

11 The child as an active agent Social actors inhabit a universe of social ‘meanings’ and that social occurrences must be explained primarily as the outcome of actors’ ‘meanings’, that is, beliefs, motives, purposes, reasons, etc that lead to actions. Child as an agent that help to develop, maintain and perpetuate the process Context and perception of the teaching profession and teaching as ‘accomplice’ to maintaining inequality.

12 Key objectives and questions Key objectives To understand the context of Mauritian primary schooling and how children interacting in such contexts develop gendered identities that go unacknowledged or yet not understood despite a semblance of understanding. Key questions How are gendered differences created and maintained within the school? What are the happenings and events in schools that are significant determinants of gender identity, yet not researched in primary schools? How can events and happenings in schools that amplify discriminatory gender practices in primary schooling be understood? Key assumption It is assumed that a number of events and happenings that have significant influences in the lives of the child are ignored by adults due to a power relationship between adults and children, and the inability of the latter to engage in a reflective relation with the child.

13 Tentative explanation of the process The need to understand how the context, both physical and social, official and informal, in which children are schooled, are instrumental in the perpetuation of certain dysfunctional consequences. This is due to lack of ‘gender consciousness’ on the part of significant adults in the school. (dysfunctional: Any social activity seen as making a negative contribution to the maintenance or effective working of a functioning social system. This definition is derived essentially from the functionalist perspective. However, the concept is used in this research to refer to the negative consequences of certain institutional arrangements that may be adverse to the functioning of the system as well as to the actors within the system). This issue becomes more pressing in the light of serious concerns expressed by writers in the African context. Role of the strong patriarchal ideology and feminization of poverty that prevail in the African continent, including Mauritius,

14 Why this research? Leach (2003, p.8,9) states that “…we need to engage in gender analysis of all aspects of educational provision, whether these are policies, institutions, curricula, teaching approaches, or forms of assessment.” We need to become more fully aware of the ways in which our society creates, nurtures and amplifies gender identities and along with it inequalities that are taken for granted and viewed as normal. There has been a great deal of educational research in the developed world around gender issues in schools, and the role of the school in socializing girls and boys to accept adult roles and patterns of behaviour that comply with dominant social norms, including expectations of appropriate female and male occupations….Research in schools in developing countries is very limited” (Leach, 2003, p. 8)

15 Specificity of the research Pro-feminist activism This research seeks to fill an important gap by making the cause of gender equality a concern of men as well. Against the comfortable bandwagon situate the need to clearly identify the problem rather than going with the bandwagon that seems to be the case with a number of discussions on the issue of gender and education today. Uncovering the blinded non- awareness To uncover, what I would call the “blinded non awareness” of avenues of discriminatory gender identity construction in primary schooling.

16 Approach to the research Questioning mainstream research Has research in the conventional manner, that is, research of mainstream happenings of schooling been responsible for neglect of important aspects of gender identity construction in primary schools.? Methodological choices: sampling Illustrates the importance of sampling the right settings, event, processes and actors The case study- justification Though epistemological opportunity seems small on representational ground, he argues it is “better to learn a lot from an atypical case than a little from a seemingly typical case” (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p. 446).

17 Justification of the methodology Case Study Powerful tool for refuting an overgeneralisation Even if our sample is not necessarily representative of the Mauritian school altogether, the exceptional case can still be valuable for action as it will lead to effectively questioning of overgeneralizations. Advantages allows maximum possibility to ‘infiltrate’ the context and to uncover the day to day happenings as a first hand occurring case study also allows a multi-perspectival analysis gives a voice to the powerless and voiceless (Feagin, Orum, & Sjoberg, 1991) Further justifications “empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomena within its real life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomena and context are not clearly evident” (Yin, 1994, p. 13). It allows immersion in a context and the production of thick description as well as a breadth of coverage of a single case that also has heuristic value.

18 The sample The case Merriam (1998) defines the case. The case is “one simple entity around which there are boundaries….The case could be a person such as a student, a teacher, a principal, a program, a group such as a class, a school, a community, a specific policy and soon… (p.27). Our main sample The main setting: One school with an adequate mix of high, average and low achieving students. The school chosen has a fairly well representative profile of pupils, ranging from low to high achievers. Though the case is singular, there is also within-case sampling (of ‘hidden’ events, processes). Validating sample Three other schools were chosen: one high achieving school, one at the upper end of the high achieving group and one school of the same nature and characteristic as the main school chosen for this research. However, these other settings did not break the boundary of the ‘case’ school, but rather helped to reinforce the strength of the ‘case’ to reveal the reality of the system, and not to be just a ‘case apart’.

19 Analysis The outcome of case study must also be emphasized at the start. Rather than a search for cause, more emphasis will be placed on coincidence of events, situational and interrelated events, contingencies rather than causes, thus a descriptive presentation of diverse aspects of the case. This way of proceeding and analysing is also advocated by Kendall & Wickham (2000) who advocate a search for contingencies instead of causes in their explanation of Foucault’s methods. It seeks to establish how events can be complex relations between other events Presenting findings as ‘story’ Organised around issues it will seek to draw the complex relationship around the research questions asked. For this approach to be successful, it will be appropriate to use what is called the “storytelling” approach. This will bring me closer to the main aim of the study: to attempt an interpretive study which highlights meanings held by key actors in the field of the research. The stories will seek to be emphatic and respectful of each person’s realities with the researcher deciding what will be the stories that will be included in the report. Triangulation To reduce likelihood of misinterpretation, various procedures will be employed. This procedure is commonly called triangulation. Triangulation offers “a process for multiple perceptions to clarify meaning, verifying the repeatability of an observation or interpretation…

20 The evidences: the power of the “hidden” elements shaping gendered identity Teachers as active agents perpetuating inequality, through ‘blinded awareness’. Semi-structured interviews- non participant observation Role of textbooks as “active instruments of inequality”- Content Analysis Discovering the Children world through their drawing> : Art based methods The time outside classroom: recess time as arena for laying the basis for patriarchy: on participant observation- semi-structured interviews Shaping the world of Gender inequality

21 How does gendered identity construction become an inevitable power struggle as “childhood politics” develops as a foundation for an unequal world? The context The age of inevitability Boys’ are boys Girls are what boys want to be! Hidden notions of normality and ’the now as inevitable’ Adults’ “blinded awareness” Actors’ pursuing their own agenda


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