Gender Inequality Research Essay Research Paper Gender

Gender Inequality Research Essay, Research Paper

Gender equality is a broad topic with many different angles that can be examined. For my part in

this project I chose to research the changing perspective on gender inequalities in schools. I

wanted to find out what people really felt about the fairness of their education, and whether they

really felt they had been shortchanged in the learning process because of their sex. My results

were generally what I had expected to find, though there were a few interesting findings along the

way. I used an article from Education Week entitled, “The Silent Gender Gap”, An empirical

research project conducted by Molly Weinburgh of Georgia State University, and I conducted my

own research by using surveys and interviewing people about what they remember from their days

in the public schools.

I wanted to answer the question as to whether or not gender really played a role in the

equality of people’s education. I expected to find that the further back through time I looked, the

more evidence I would find of there being a general sentiment toward the belief that males were

favored in the classroom. This favoritism I expected to be greater and have a larger impact the

further back through time I went with my interviews. However, I expected that in more recent

times the pendulum of educational inequalities would have swung hard the other way, giving the

females a clear advantage. In the end I was right, to an extent.

I conducted interviews with or received surveys back from forty-eight people ranging in

age, background, and geographic region of where they attended high school. Six of these people

graduated high school between 1945 and 1955, twenty-four graduated between 1968 and 1979,

and the remaining eighteen people have recently graduated since 1995. They represent three

generations education in the public schools. When asked how they felt overall about the equality

of their education based on gender, only two people responded that they felt there had not been

fair treatment between the sexes, these two will be discussed in-depth later. Every respondent

said that they had not changed the beliefs they held during school. However, the inequalities

became evident in later questions that were designed to bring out impressions about certain

situations and asked for additional comments. Of the twenty-four respondents graduating from

1968 to 1979, twenty-two claimed overall equality in their education, of these, nine indicated

some minor tendencies toward gender biased policies in teachers’ classrooms. All but one of

these nine said the males had received some form of favoritism regardless of their own gender.

The recent graduate group results showed opposite results. Of the eighteen people who

graduated since 1995, all claimed overall equality (a sign of progress), however all but two

claimed that the girls were given advantages over the males (a sign of too much progress). The

two who did not claim female benefits felt their education was equal. The interesting age group

was the elders. They were hesitant to respond to my questions. After great amount of reflection,

there was an agreement that men were given a better opportunity for success. These people

struggled to decide not because they could not remember, but because they never gave gender

inequality too much thought. Some responses to the questions designed to inspire thought and

sentiments were good examples of the overall feeling on gender inequalities. For example,

“Studies today seem to draw our focus to minor issues (mountains out of mole hills)” and

“…gender was the inequality of least concern back when I was in school.” As for the two who

did not feel there overall educational experience was fair, both graduated in 1976, both were

female, but one felt the males got the clear advantage, the other felt the females won the war for

favoritism. “The Silent Gender Gap,” offers the best explanation for this conflict of opinions.

The Education Week article makes the claim that when looking at African-American students the

gender gap actually favored the females as early as 1970. The women who said there schooling

was unfairly tilted toward males was from the predominantly white Central Pennsylvania region,

while the lady saying girls had the upper hand came from a school in Maryland which had an equal

if not greater number of African-American students, a possible explanation for the differing views

from the same time period.

When looking at the results, we see that the hypothesis was overall correct. The trend has

been for the girls to be treated progressively better while the boys advantage has slipped away.

However gender inequality does still exist in schools to differing degrees, even if the offended

party has changed. Interestingly enough, against the hypothesis, the oldest group we looked at

were not concerned over gender inequalities, maybe this something we can learn from and focus

our attention on some bigger issues. Also, Molly Weinburgh’s research found gender to be the

least predictive of a student’s scholastic success. On a final note, it is important to keep in mind

that this is the schools we have looked at, the glass ceiling of the work place still must be




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