Learning Gender: Exploring the Links Between Gender, Education & Society - EDU00035H

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Vanita Sundaram
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19

Module summary

In this module, we examine gender differences in access to, participation in and outcomes of education and critically discuss the underlying reasons for these. We will also consider the role of educational institutions in producing conventional understandings and expectations of ‘male’ and ‘female’ behaviour. The key question will be: how does gender influence participation, learning, attainment and identities in education?

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2018-19 to Summer Term 2018-19

Module aims

Why do girls perform better than boys in language subjects? Why do more boys than girls choose science and maths-related subjects at A-level and university? Why are the vast majority of teachers female? Are these patterns due to biological differences between boys and girls and men and women, or are there social, political and economic influences on educational opportunity and attainment? In this module, we examine gender differences in access to, participation in and outcomes of education and critically discuss the underlying reasons for these. We will also consider the role of educational institutions in producing conventional understandings and expectations of ‘male’ and ‘female’ behaviour. Crucially, we will be exploring the notion that gender exists beyond a binary and that a range of gender identities should be recognised within education. The key question will be: how does gender identity influence participation, learning, attainment and identities in education? You will build on the knowledge you have gained in Stages 1 and 2 of the programme, thinking particularly about inequalities in education, social theory and sociology of education.

 

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Critically examine their understandings of gender and reflect on categories of  'male' and 'female', including their own expectations of appropriate gender behaviour.

  • Understand the importance of making gender visible in educational and social theory

  • Engage critically with debates about gender differences in participation and achievement in education

  • Discuss how learner identities may be influenced by current understandings and expectations of gender and sexuality

  • Explore the role of schools in creating and maintaining gender binary, hierarchy and stereotypes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of gender sensitivity in conducting and consuming research

Academic and graduate skills

  • Practice extracting key points from articles

  • Identify arguments and the evidence which support these

  • Engage with debates on and representations of special educational needs through a range of media and critically reflect on these

  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing

  • Develop IT skills by interacting with the VLE as an integral aspect of this module

  • Complete weekly learning logs through which they will demonstrate their understanding of key concepts

 

Module content

We will examine gender differences in access to, participation in and outcomes of education and critically discuss the underlying reasons for these. We will also consider the role of educational institutions in producing conventional and binary understandings and expectations of ‘male’ and ‘female’ behaviour. The key question will be: how does gender identity influence participation, learning, attainment and identities in education? You will build on the knowledge you have gained in Stages 1 and 2 of the programme, thinking particularly about inequalities in education, social theory and sociology of education. Students will be expected to locate and engage with a variety of theoretical and empirical sources. They will practice extracting key points from articles, identifying arguments and the evidence which support these. Students will be asked to engage with debates on and representations of gender and/in education through a range of media and will be expected to critically reflect on these. They will be required to communicate effectively orally and in writing. Students will be expected to complete weekly learning logs through which they will demonstrate their understanding of key concepts as well as develop their critical writing skills. Students will also develop their IT skills by interacting with the VLE as an integral aspect of this module.

 

Spring Term

Week 2. Introduction: what is gender and why is it important?

This introductory session introduces students to the concept of ‘gender’ and discusses different perspectives on gender difference, as well as introducing students to the notion of gender hierarchy and gender binary.

Week 3. Why do we need to consider gender in education: the global perspective

In this session we explore global patterns of gender inequality in access to, participation in, and outcomes of education. We discuss different indicators that are used to monitor and evaluate gender equality in education from a global perspective and critically analyse the limitations of these.

Week 4. Gender and participation in education: do girls just dislike science?

In this session we explore gender differences in subject choice and participation, with particular reference to STEMM subjects. We critically discuss the reasons that are put forward for girls’ lower participation in STEMM and link these debates to wider social and cultural norms for gender.

Week 5. Examining the ‘gender wars’: what is differential attainment and is it a problem?

In this session we discuss the ‘gender wars’ in achievement in the UK, paying particular attention to the concept of ‘underachievement’ and critically analysing research on gender gaps in achievement for different subjects. We develop a critical understanding of how such debates might be deployed to exacerbate or minimise differences between ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ in education.

Week 6. Constructing gendered identities in the classroom

This session explores the ways in which gender identities and practices are produced in schools and are reinforced by peers, teachers and school cultures. We pay particular attention to teachers’ expectations of ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ pupil behaviour and how such expectations relate to gender differences in participation and achievement. We look at the formation of gendered identities from primary school through to secondary education.

Week 7. Do male teachers shape ‘real’ boys? Maintaining gender hierarchy in schools

In this session we explore the ongoing debate about the dearth of male teachers in primary and secondary schools in the UK. We critically analyse the reasons put forward for the need to recruit more men to the teaching profession and explore existing social and cultural barriers to this.

Week 8. ‘Lad cultures’ in school and higher education: violence and sexual harassment.

This session explores the topical issue of ‘lad culture’, sexual harassment and violence in education. We will critically analyse current research in this field, paying particular attention to young people’s experiences of sexual harassment in schools, and the emerging phenomenon of ‘lad culture’ in universities. We will explore ongoing initiatives to challenge such practices and critically discuss the ways in which these relate to gender norms.

Week 9. Addressing gender, sexuality and diversity in sex and relationships education

This session explores the issue of sex and relationships education in schools, paying especial attention to the absence of content on gender, sexuality and diversity in the current curriculum. From September 2019 sex and relationships education will become a statutory subject although the content is yet to be determined. We will discuss what the implications of an unchanged curriculum might be in relation to young people’s learnings of gender and sexuality.

Week 10. Formative assessment workshop

This workshop will help you to prepare for your summative assessment. We will learn the practice of academic outline (Murray) and begin to work on an outline for your own summative assessment.

 

Summer Term

 

Week 1. Understanding gender and education through digital and social media

Understanding gender and education through digital and social media

In this session we explore the ways in which gender is constructed in and through digital and social media. We discuss the current concerns around ‘sexting’ and deconstruct the ways in which public prevention campaigns position ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ and the ways in which they conceptualise young people’s sexual identities and practices.

 

Week 2. What do we mean by gender equality in education?

In this session we critically analyse what we mean by ‘gender equality’ in education. We discuss the concept of ‘equality’ itself and how this might be applied across different groups. A crucial element of this session is learning about the concept of ‘intersectionality’ and thinking about how an understanding of intersecting identities might help us to problematise the concept of ‘ gender equality’ .

 

Week 3. Group presentations

In this session, students will deliver 10 minute group presentations on an assigned topic that we have studied in this module. Normally, students would give a presentation on their chosen assessment topic in order to help them to formulate their argument and deliver this orally. Students will be given oral and written feedback on their presentations to help them to improve and extend their knowledge for the summative/written assessment for the module. Students will be assigned a topic in Week 10 of Spring term and will be expected to prepare the presentation as a group by Week 1 of Summer. Week4. Reviewing essays, assessment criteria and preparing for Stage 3 writing

In this session we will build on work you did in the Reading Week and continue to prepare for the summative assessment through discussion of the assessment criteria, an examination of essay samples, and a collective writing workshop.

 

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay - 5000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay - 5000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback on assignment report sheet (within 4-6 weeks) and face-to-face feedback in supervisions.

Indicative reading

Butler, J. (2004). Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge.

Connell, R.W. (2006) Understanding Men: Gender Sociology and the New International Research on Masculinities. In: C. Skelton, B. Francis and L. Smulyan (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Gender and Education, pp 18-31. London: SAGE Publications.

Delphy, C. (2002). Rethinking sex and gender. In C.R. McCann and S-K.Kim (eds), Feminist Theory Reader. Pp 57-67. London: Routledge.

Francis, B. (2006) The Nature of Gender. In: C. Skelton, B. Francis and L. Smulyan (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Gender and Education, pp 7-17. London: SAGE Publications.

Myhill, D. & Jones, S. ((2006). She doesnt shout at no girls: pupils perceptions of gender equity in the classroom. Cambridge Journal of Education, 36 (1): 99-113.

Reed, L.R. (2006). Troubling boys and disturbing discourses on masculinity and schooling: a feminist exploration of current debates and interventions concerning boys in school. In M. Arnot & M. Mac an Ghaill (eds), The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Gender and Education. Pp. 33-48. New York: Routledge.

Reay, D. (2006) Spice girls, nice girls, girlies and tomboys: gender discourses, girls cultures and femininities in the primary classroom. In M. Arnot and M. Mac an Ghaill (eds), The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Gender and Education. Pp. 117-130. London and NY: Routledge.

Renold, E. (2007). Gendered Classroom Experiences. In C. Skelton, B. Francis and L. Smulyan (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Gender and Education. Pp. 439-452. SAGE Publications.

 



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