The Gender Agenda

The gender agenda

The Gender Agenda: Gender Differences in Australian Higher Education (Olsen, 2013). A link to the article can be found here.

This paper examines the inequalities between male and female educational experiences in Australia. The paper brings up statistics saying that more girls engage in higher education than boys, and furthermore, that the completion rates in universities are higher for women than men.

Even in the Indigenous sphere, statistics demonstrate that women outperform men. Women are also more likely to study in exchange programs overseas. This inequality, Olsen states, is drastic and needs to be bridged. However, once we consider the various contextual factors such as career choice, career opportunities, and the fact that the disparities are not to do with pedagogical techniques, Olsen’s claims become misleading.

The school-leaving careers for men outnumber the opportunities for women early school leavers, thereby accounting for a disparity in tertiary education participation. While Olsen’s claims may need to be understood relative to a context, the idea that education needs to tailor for both sexes is an important one.

Gender in the classroom is an extremely important factor which dictates teachers’ pedagogical and content approaches, especially in the area of social justice. An example of this is the issue of sexism. How does a teacher communicate the idea of sexism to students of different gender demographics?

The truth is, that as much as we’d like to talk about classrooms being gender neutral, this is not conducive to learning about certain content. Part of being a teacher is being aware of group demographics.

For teaching girls about the issue of sexism, for example, it is more a process of verbalising the awareness that probably already exists. For teaching sexism to a group of boys, it’s about making them aware of potentially damaging behaviours towards women.

It’s a process of differentiation, and if we teach girls how we teach boys, or vice versa, we’re inevitably going to see the disparities which Olsen mentions in the article.

What do you think about gender education in Australia? Leave your comments below.

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