How to Eliminate Gender Bias in Today’s Education
Gender bias has played a big role in education for centuries. While it isn’t as glaring as it used to be, it can still be seen in today’s school system. University World News reports that there are fewer women in higher education. Though their enrolment has increased greatly in the last 20 years, their presence is reduced in tertiary learning institutions. Many factors can detract them from attending colleges and universities, ranging from avoiding male-dominated fields to norms instilled in them from early in their lives. This is why educational institutions across the world are doing more to promote equality in education. Bridge International Academy recently celebrated International Women’s day, which highlights the gender gaps in education and other areas of society. All students will thrive and receive a quality education when they are not limited by their gender. This will allow them to discover niche interests, excel in unconventional fields, and feel supported in all their endeavours. Eliminating gender bias in education can be done through small changes like these:
Go against gender stereotypes
Many in society, especially those who adhere to traditional values, believe that gender is a binary concept, limiting boys and girls to nothing but labels and stereotypical roles. As our past article Pink is for Girls Blue is for Boys highlights, there is no harm in letting a boy play with dolls or a girl read comic books. Stereotyping creates the harmful idea that children are only allowed to function within the norm of their gender, preventing them from exploring their natural curiosity and better understanding themselves.
In school, it should be acceptable for students, especially younger kids, to explore and experiment with different activities– even those outside of their gender norms. They should never be shamed for wearing typically masculine or feminine clothing just because it doesn’t adhere to their gender. This will let them know that they can express themselves without guilt or shame for who they are.
Offer equal opportunities for students
Gender stereotypes can also affect the opportunities that students are given. Research done by the University of Lapland explains that girls are seen to be conformists while boys are expected to push the envelope. This means that one would be perceived to be better at academics while the other would be seen to excel in sports or leadership positions. These generalisations may prevent schools from giving equal opportunities to students based on their gender.
Offering girls more placements in sports and athletics can encourage them to continue pursuing it as they get older. Alternatively, boys should also be pushed to join clubs and societies that focus more on academic activities like debating as this allows them to showcase their more scholarly side. This promotes the idea that they can do anything they want regardless of their gender.
Make dress codes fair
Some schools have sent female students home for having a skirt that is too short. These institutions have claimed that the reasoning behind this is that it distracts male students from focusing on lessons– sexualising girls and discrediting boys as civil people. Recently, the Poltair School of Cornwall was called out for not allowing boys to wear shorts despite the heatwave in 2021.
Formulating new policies that stop targeting specific genders within schools will allow students to feel more comfortable in their uniforms while also feeling like their education is more of a priority than what they are wearing. This will increase their independence, freedom of expression, and understanding that in the real world, they are allowed to wear whatever they want regardless of their gender.
Schools must be one of the many places where students should feel comfortable and safe enough to not be discriminated against based on their gender. Creating new policies and removing stereotypes can go a long way in eliminating gender bias in today’s educational institutions.
For more articles on safe spaces and student mental health, be sure to check out Inspire Ignite.
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