How Gender Biases Continue to Slip Into the Classroom

LeadershipA survey by researchers at the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University in Massachusetts, in conjunction with the National Education Association and the American Association of University Women, finds that middle school and high school teachers tend to reinforce gender stereotypes in the classroom, albeit in most cases they do so unconsciously. Most educators who responded to the survey defined a good leader in gender-neutral terms, with their top descriptors including problem-solver, collaborative, intelligent, and compassionate. But following these most popular choices, the study found that respondents were slightly more likely to ascribe attributes that are typically associated with males to leadership, such as determined, assertive, and charismatic, than they were female attributes, such as caring, selfless, sensitive, and sympathetic.

ginsberg“Teachers may routinely assign a girl a role like note taker or coordinator and a boy to be a discussant or group leader because that’s what they think these students are good at. And yet they still think they have a very gender-neutral classroom,”says Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, deputy director of Tisch College’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement and a co-author of the report. “If male and female students are growing up and seeing these stereotypes over and over with nobody challenging the gender-structured roles of leadership, then we have little hope of changing the status quo.”

Dr. Kawashima-Ginsburg is a graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Loyola University of Chicago.

The report, Closing the Leadership Gap: How Educators Can Help Girls Lead, can be downloaded by clicking here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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