Society today is besieged by many stereotypes. In Trinidad and Tobago, gender stereotyping is one of the many social barriers that add to the social pressures within our society. Trinidad and Tobago, like the rest of the world, has experienced rapid social and economic changes, yet there still lays an “old-fashioned” and conventional mentality towards traditional gender roles. Many societies perceive that cultural ideologies about gender, influence social norms for appropriate and acceptable bodies. The greatest gender inequalities are found in North Africa and Western Asia. Countries in East Asia and the Pacific have come close to achieving gender parity in access to education, while in Latin America and the Caribbean there appears to be a slight bias against boys. ” Although more women than men have pursued higher education in some countries, this has not necessarily lead to better labor market outcomes for women. It can be recognized that men dominate commercial roles and women subservient subordinate roles.
Due to society’s sex-based discriminatory practices, this results in the stereotyping that women are less interested or capable of assuming roles that men dominate. This situation has increasingly led to a focus on schools. Gender stereotyping is one barrier girls and boys commonly encounter in co-educational schools. Our “old- fashioned” society still feels that girls should take subjects like home economics, art or history, which leads to traditional caring occupations like teaching or nursing as opposed to learning technology, or advanced sciences.
This kind of thinking prevents girls from getting the training, which will ensure them high paying technology-related jobs in later life. Boys on the other hand are patterned into being pilots, engineers etc. Boys in co-educational settings are therefore less likely to take subjects in the arts or tackle “female-type” subjects simply to avoid being typecast a “gay/ homosexuals” and the likelihood of being ridiculed. This somewhat distorting stereotype, advocates that as a society, we do not cherish and value the diversity of learning among girls and boys.
Although co-educational schools attempt to break down these gender stereotypes, this course of action turns out to be flawed. My intention in this paper is to explore and provide a better understanding of the unique educational opportunities that single-sex schools offer in Trinidad and Tobago. This dissertation will also attempt to illustrate, influence and Justify to educators the necessity in recognizing this diversity, thereby educating and inspiring every child to learn to the best of her or his ability. “The benefits of education are by now well established. Education improves the quality of life.
It promotes health, expands access to paid employment, increases productivity in market and non-market work, and decapitates social and political participation. ” (Belle and King 1993). Belle and King allows us to recognize that education is an important investment which has significant multiple effects. Humanist thinkers have seen education as having a unique function in liberating the individual and enabling them to achieve their full potential. Education allows the individual to contribute to the social, economic and political aspects of national development. Such benefits should be experience by both women and men in a society.
However, many social barriers to women’s equality with men seem to be the most prevailing arguments that exist within our society. Several generations have been spent advancing the equality of the sexes. Globally, intellectuals have been coming up with countless arguments as to why gender stereotypes exist within our schools and by extension societies. Moreover, gender intersects with social class/ caste, race/ethnicity, culture/religion and age as a basis for inequity, subordination and discrimination in access to opportunity, and all of these factors are manifested differently in different countries.
These arguments are not surprising since both the family and the education system function as the primary agents of colonization. Measure and Skies asserts that there are various theories that have been proposed to explain the complexity of gender role colonization, however, it is generally agreed that gender role colonization begins in the family and the process is continued through the education system, though perhaps in different ways, as children progress into adolescence and then adulthood. Measure and Skies 1992) Throughout the Caribbean region great efforts have been made to improve the quantity and quality of education. Many preliminary studies concerning educational achievement in the Caribbean show that females are succeeding academically at much higher levels than males. For example, Marlene Hamiltonians 1985 classic study of the performance levels of Jamaican adolescents attending single-sex and co- educational high schools found that students attending single-sex schools outperformed students in co-educational schools in almost every subject tested.
Hamilton also notes that the same pattern of results has been found in most studies worldwide: Girls at single-sex schools attain the highest achievement; boys at single- sex schools are next; boys at co-educational schools are next; and girls at co- educational schools do worst of all. (Hamilton 1985). Although this generalization may ray from region to region or country to country with similar and dissimilar patterns, it can be acknowledge that educational policy has been a concern about a perceived ‘gender gap’ in achievement.
A contrasting concern has been that the achievement of girls at school has not translated into rewards in the workplace. For example, in some countries girls outperform boys in school, but later fail to gain equality in work or political participation and a lot of young men continue to have higher average hourly wages than young women. While girls are seen to achieve at higher levels than boys, the questions that arise Is there a relationship between gender and school achievement within the are: 1. Context of single-sexed schools verses co- educational schools in developing countries? . Are there differences in subject option or choice between boys and girls? 3 Is this deterrence in performance related to earlier individual expression tot ability or colonization? In answering the above questions, the issue of co-educational versus single-sex schools has been the topic of some research. The findings are mixed, with some researchers reporting that the sex composition of the school makes ere little difference to the achievement of female and male students, while others note significantly higher achievement for both sexes in single-sex schools.
Nevertheless, in the Commonwealth countries, girls’ education is still a central focus when one speaks about gender in education. The World Bank (1993) brought together information concerning ‘Access, Quality and Efficiency in Education in the Caribbean Region’ which shows that variation in school achievement among these countries is largely explained by socio-economic status of parent’s and sex of pupils. According to his document females tend to out-perform males at various levels of schooling, in a broad range of curriculum subjects within class and national examinations. (The world sank 1993).
Secondary Schools in Trinidad vary in hierarchical fashion from prestige seven year schools to prestige five year schools to Junior Secondary Schools and Senior Comprehensive schools. It can be acknowledge that most of these prestige institutions are single-sex schools. Owing to these details, one can conclude that Secondary Schools in Trinidad have been structured into a stratified system of prestige and lower status schools. Although these Secondary schools allow differential access by pupils, there are still higher levels consistent sex differences found by curriculum subject within school and national testing.
The Caribbean Examination Council (EX.) results show that females are more likely to ‘sit’ the examination (60% girls, 40% boys) and girls across the Caribbean achieve better EX. results in English, History and Social Studies while boys achieve better in Mathematics, Geography and Business Studies (Leo Rhyme, 1989). Across Caribbean results conflict somewhat with results found in Trinidad (Cutting and Jules, 1988; Jules and Cutting, 1990; and Souse, 1987).
After accounting for social class these studies found that girls perform better on teacher-made, within-class tests at all ages between 8 and 16 and in all curriculum subjects even within the differentiated sciences at the fifth form – females achieving higher average scores in Biology and Physics and no significant difference in Chemistry; and girls perform better on EX. examinations across the whole range of subjects. (Cutting 1997). Achievement of boys and girls at these single-sexed institutions are far higher than boys and girls at co-educational institutions.
Gender stereotyping in subject choice is definitely one barrier girls and boys commonly encounter in co-educational schools. Many subjects within these co-educational schools show gender stereotypical biases where subject choice reflects the differential constructions of gender among students and teachers. Although students are offered a full range of subjects, they continue to make sex-stereotyped choices. Boys and girls in co-educational schools will choose to do different things and be very different from each other as a way of signaling that they are male or female.
This allows us to understand what happens in relation to subject choice. While boys and girls at single-sex schools experience the freedom to take risks in their subject areas, young men still typically pursue technical and science-oriented subjects, while young women typically pursue caring, or arts/ humanities/social sciences subjects at co-educational schools. This somewhat distorting stereotype, advocates that as a society, we do not cherish and value the diversity of learning among girls and boys.
Measure and Skies asserts that Sociologist recognize that schools are a sophisticated mechanism for selection, allocating pupils to a particular track or stream that is deemed to be appropriate to their future session in the labor force. (Measure and Skies 1992). Most societies have patterns of colonization which encourage males to become masculine and females to become feminine. Our schools and by extension our society, traditionally sees the study of the sciences’ as masculine and the arts’ as feminine. The latter are constructed as lower-status than science subjects and as ‘soft’ or ‘easy, compared to the sciences.
One can recognize that the subjects more often pursued by young men are seen as more difficult and more important by society than those more commonly pursued by young women. In co-educational schools young women may be unwilling to deviate from sex-role norms during adolescence or to take classes Judged inappropriate for them because of peer pressures and the attitudes of male classmates. This kind of thinking is prevalent in co-educational schools and gendered subject choices can have strong consequences for young peoples’ future career routes in terms of Job opportunities, status, and remuneration.
Girls can be prevented from getting the training, which will ensure them high paying technology-related Jobs in later life. Boys on the other hand are patterned into being pilots, engineers etc. Therefore, boys in co-educational settings are therefore less likely to take subjects in the arts or tackle “female-type” subjects simply to avoid being typecast a “gay/homosexuals” and the likelihood of being ridiculed. According to Skeleton et al, “Boys and girls ‘perform’ their gender in different and opposite ways (I. E. Being ‘a boy meaner acting and behaving in ways that are the exact opposite of being ‘a girl’).
Such gendered behaviors are deep-seated, and children enact these without being consciously aware of them… ” (Skeleton et al 2007). One can agree with Skeleton that the ethos and raciest of individual schools influences the student’s construction of what is ‘appropriate’ in their setting. Students will therefore produce different behaviors to conform to traditional gender norms which will eventually impact on their achievement. Thus, one can assume that our educational environment in our co- educational schools values the learning styles of boys over girls.
Students within this environment will therefore prefer to align themselves with gender-appropriate subjects to conform to traditional gender norms. The 1996 Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers’ Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago reviewed progress in implementing he Plan of Action, and made further recommendations that Ministers of Education be requested to initiate more dynamic strategies for ensuring that women and girls are given equal access to educational opportunities, and participate more fully in training towards non-traditional occupations such as science, technology and commerce.
A significant outcome of the meeting was the decision taken by Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers that member countries should be encouraged to achieve a target of at least 30 per cent women in decision-making in the political, public and private sectors by the year 2005. Gender Mainstreaming in Education: A Reticence Manual tort ornaments and Other Stakeholder 1 ) Single- sex education is as an opportunity to capitalize on the learning differences inherent in boys and girls. It is evident that in Trinidad, many children thrive in single sex- schools.
In addition to the ever-increasing output of scholarships at these single- sexed institutions, the social pressures are also gentler. There is evidence that girls’ academic achievement is better overall in single-sex schools. (Dale 1975). There is also evidence that girls are more willing to take science subjects when they are in ingle-sex schools. (DES 1975). In interviews conducted at the single-sex school where I teach, it was found that the girls tend to take risks in their subject areas; one child responded to questions based on her choice of subject selection for the SEC examinations by saying, “… Here was not really any concern on what to choose to do for EX., I liked Math and Science and I know I wanted to do engineering, so I Just chose what I liked. ” Some Additional Mathematics students went on further to explain that in their lessons classes outside of school which consists of a mixture of joys and girls in the class, boys tend to feel intimidated or belittled when the girls do better than them in Mathematics. When asked of their feelings on this, the girls expressed their confidence in the subject and not bothered by what the boys may think.
It was also noted that girls at this single-sex school also become more competitive and embrace ‘male’ dominated sports like cricket, football and karate without worrying about what their peers may think or appearing to be like tomboys. They are therefore able to explore non-traditional subjects and other avenues in a comfortable and relaxed environment. Boys on the other hand are able to participate in choirs, orchestras and even learn dancing in single-sex settings, they will tend to soften their competitive edge and become more collaborative.
It allows them the opportunity to Just be ‘boys’ and not worry about what the ‘girls’ might think. It can therefore be asserted that single-sex schools offer unique educational opportunities that inspire every child to learn to the best of her or his ability. The benefits of single-sex schools are not only academic but single-sex education can broaden students’ horizons, to allow them to feel free to explore their own strengths ND interests, not constrained by gender stereotypes.
Single sex-education has a delightful way of encouraging children to be fearless, to be curious, to be enthusiastic and Just to be themselves. Teachers, schools and classrooms play a major role in the development of children’s attainment. Carr suggests that when teachers and others involved with education work on gender issues it results in a clarification of objectives, the formulation of consciously worked out policies and an emphasis on effective evaluation, all of which improve the standards of teaching. Carr 1989). Feminist researchers have pointed out that boys get more attention, more teaching and instruction and also more disciplining than girls: “Boys dominate the physical space of the classroom and the playground and from our own experience, dominate the teacher’s time too. ” (Anti-sexist working party, 1985). It therefore becomes a necessity that educators recognize the diversity amongst girls and boys. As a result, interaction between teacher and students are of crucial importance.
This meaner that attempts to eradicate gender gaps in achievement should start with teachers challenging stereotypes and that in turn they should encourage students to challenge stereotypes. Browne and France draw attention to the tact t at adult n TTS do not use the same language Witt boys and girls and tend to TA to them differently. Girls are addressed as, “honey, sweetie, lovely, darling, treasure, precious,” whereas terms such as, “wise guy, buster, and toughie” are used to reinforce the tough macho behavior expected of them. (Browne and France 1983).
Browne and France further explain that “examining the way we talk to young children can be a revealing practice. Young children hear sex stereotyped language, but also they are encouraged to use it. (Browne and France 1983). Educators therefore need to tackle how boys and girls see themselves as opposites of each other in the classroom. Teachers need to consider and look at the way children’s gender identification affects their learning and achievement. They also need to consider how they can be more inclusive of children’s varying ideas and contributions and better integrate them into the classrooms.
In addition, in order to tackle these gender issues, the quality of education needs to be improved. There needs to be more focus and careful planning of school policies. Edward P. Morgan asserts that schools are testing grounds on which individuals can further their future social and occupational standing. (Morgan 1977). Educational policies need to be developed with the implementation of gender objectives that are sensitive and receptive to meeting the requirements of girls and boys. Programs and practices must address gender issues to promote gender equality.
Strategies need to be developed especially to involve the full attainment range of boys and girls in co-educational schools. One recommendation is gendering the curriculum. Sex stereotypes in society are reflected n sex inequities in curricular materials which usually portray females and males differently. Textbooks often depict women and men in traditional roles and in occupations that are even more sex-segregated than those they actually fill. Therefore, the adverse effect of sex-stereotyped educational materials on children’s occupational aspirations may be assumed.
Thus, the training of teachers in the proper usage of these materials are important so that they can develop and share a critical perspective even when they are forced to use such texts. According to Morgan “a student is controlled not by the intrinsic merits of the learning process, UT by its outcome and the instrumental importance of his or her performance. ” (Morgan 197). One can agree that it is not Just the level of education achieved, but the quality and relevance of education and training that is important.
Although, textbooks often show men in dominant commercial roles and women in subservient, subordinate roles, the concept of providing young women and men with formal and non-formal educational possibilities, including vocational training leading to their empowerment is the focal point. Science is seen as a ‘boys’ subject’ and rather than trying to make it ‘girl friendly, schools need to find ways to opening up his topic so that it ceases to be associated with one or other and, instead, captures the interests of both genders. Only then can the gender gap in achievement be removed.
Another suggestion for the co-educational schools is that for certain subjects, the best method of achieving equity is to teach the sexes separately. Although some may argue that the splitting of students into groups on the basis of sex is not Justified, the convenience of sex-segregation is outweighed by the disadvantageous side-effect that gender differences in interest and abilities may have on the children. It can therefore be argued that sex segregation in schools may increase the opportunities tort all students Witt respect to evolving definitions tot femininity and masculinity.
Only then can the regressive and stereotypical attitudes and behaviors among students, teachers and the society be eradicated. Salvia states that lowest attaining children displayed poor social skills. Social skills are at the centre of cooperative learning and social support, and it may be worthwhile developing these skills so that social and academic learning may be enhanced in the classroom (Slaving, 1990). Colonization factors show that children (male and female) performed better in schools if their parent’s worked in professional and managerial positions, which requires advanced education.
Therefore the occupation of parent’s can provide a significant explanation for school success than the sex of the child. While earlier sociologists have treated the family and the school as two separate domains, for example, the sociology of the family and the sociology of education (Epstein in Edwards & Altered, 2000), there is a clear link between the home and the school. As a result, schools are not solely to blame or responsible for these gender eases that exist. It is generally agreed that gender role colonization begins in the family and the process is continued through the education system.
Psychoanalytical theories draw our attention to the psychodramas of the family to understand the way our sexual identities are constructed. From the early years of life, a growing child is confronted with feelings and conflicts which are initially generated from their parent’s. The parent’s are the teachers of language, perception, self-care and physical skills. Parent’s orient the child into the community and society, “both before and after he child enters school, parent’s pass on cultural values and stimulate the child (Freedman, 1984).
As children move into adolescent stages, the influence parent’s retain over them may vary quite significantly depending on the kind of parenting style received. If parent’s display the primary responsibility of ‘properly educating their children, by teaching them how to interact in society, have positive attitudes towards school, have the freedom to take risks in their subjects and interests where they can explore and embrace non-traditional subjects and not conform to traditional ender norms, this can then allow for the breaking down of gender stereotypes within our society.
Therefore, the home can be seen as the centre for teaching and learning. “When parent’s are involved in the education of their children, continuity is possible” (Hypertrophy, 1987). Continuity is important for the child’s learning and development. Thus, parent’s and teachers need to formulate a co-operative programmer that will involve parent’s and be beneficial to the child. Parent’s lack of awareness about the unique benefits of education and training for girls and boys plays a major role in perpetuating gender inequalities.
Therefore, it is important that the school reaches out to parent’s and makes them comfortable enough to assist in their children’s development. “As parent’s become more knowledgeable about their children’s learning and the ways in which their children grow and develop, they develop an improved level of competency from which their children benefit” (Kaplan, 1992). It is therefore important for parent’s to develop positive attitudes towards education for their daughters and sons.
A Parent’s Day or a Parent-Teacher Conference gives the parent and teacher and child the opportunity to informally discuss the progress of the child at school. It is important for teachers to meet with parent’s in conferences like these to monitor, in the course of their children’s education, so that improvements can be made should problems arise. At these conferences parent’s can also voice their concerns about the school and suggest ways of solving problems.
In conclusion, one can acknowledge that education in Trinidad and Tobago is riddled with problems, one of which is gender stereotyping. We live in a society in which there is substantial inequality and some of this inequality is based on gender. It is indeed essential for parent’s to become involved in the education yester for their children’s benefit and the benefit of society at large. In addition, schools also have an important role to play in gender colonization.
There must therefore be a common drawing board from which the school and home can work successfully together. Edward P. Morgan states that a society based on equal opportunity is open to advancement based on merit and motivation – presumably relevant individual characteristics. (Morgan 1977). As a democratic society parent’s and educators need to take the initiative and responsibility in socializing children by providing them with an opportunity to realize their individual potential.