07 SES 08 A, Gender Identities and Education
Formally the education on gender equality issues has recently become stronger in Iceland. Equality issues are since 2008 a new subject of study in primary schools, and since 2011 equality is one of six pillars of education in the national curriculum for all school levels. This is very noticable as this should have happened in the 1970´s according to the Icelandic equality laws.
In view of these developments and recent research and developmental studies from elsewhere, including Finland (Lahelma, 2011), Sweden (Arreman and Weiner, 2007), England (Skelton, 2007; Younger 2007; Younger and Warrington, 2008) and Portugal (Botelho-Gomes, 2012), our study is aimed at investigating the main practices and resistances towards gender equality in teacher education in Iceland. Available Icelandic research has been scarce but recent studies suggest that education on gender and equality issues in teacher training is poor, met with resistance and a considerable gap is between scientific research on gender issues and what is taught in teacher training and other university departments (Gudbjornsdottir, 2012; Gudbjornsdottir and Larusdottir, 2012; Leiknisdottir, 2012; Sigurjonsdottir, 2011, Weaver-Hightower, 2003).
There seem to be many reasons for a lack of focus on gender issues in teacher education and schools, according to international research: Curriculum overload; gender issues are sensitive and politicized, and it is not acknowledged that this is about scientific knowledge on gender issues. Theories on masculinity and femininity are considered complicated and contradict traditional essentialist views on gender differences (Lahelma, 2011; Weaver-Hightower, 2003).This seems to be the case as well among Icelandic teacher educators (Gudbjornsdottir and Larusdottir, 2012)
Younger (2007) and Younger and Warrington (2008) have recently surveyed the attitudes of student teachers in English primary and secondary schools, and the latter found that there is a need to “re-activate debate about gender identity and inclusivity within initial teacher education and training in the UK, and to reconnect research within the academic community and teaching on such courses” (p.429). Our present research from the Center for Research on Equality, Gender and Education http://menntavisindastofnun.hi.is/rannkyn/forsida is still ongoing, but now the findings from student teachers at the end of their teacher training in collected. In the spring of 2014 the plan is to collect qualitative data in view of the quantitative findings.
The research questions for this paper are:
A. How well do student teachers claim to know gender concepts like equality, gender, stereotypes, masculinities, the gender system, sexualities and homophobia? Is there a difference in the self-reported knowledge of these concepts between students in their first year of their 5 years of teacher training and those more advanced?
2. Interest or disinterest:
B. How interested are student teachers in learning more about gender and equality in their studies generally or having a special course on those issues?
C. Which of given gender related content dimensions are they most interested in learning more about as student teachers?
D. If student teachers are not interested In equality education, which are the main reasons?
Arreman, I. and Weiner, G. (2007). Gender, research and change in teacher education: a Swedish dimension. Gender and Education, 19(3), 317-337. Botelho-Gomes, P. (2012). Guides for Education “Gender and Citizenship”. Paper presented at Exchange of good practices on gender equality. Gender training in education Portugal, 18-19 October 2012. European Commission. http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/exchange_of_good_practice_pt/pt_discussion_paper_pt_2012_en.pd Gudny Gudbjornsdottir. (2009b). Minnisblað um jafnréttisfræðslu í skólastarfi, til forseta Menntavísindasviðs (Status report on gender and teacher education in Iceland) http://vefir.hi.is/kennaramenntun/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/GG-jafnrétti-og-kennarmenntun1.pdf Gudny Guðbjornsdottir and Steinunn Helga Larusdottir.(2012). „Þotulið“ og „setulið“: Kynjajafnrétti og kennaramenntun. Netla – Veftímarit um uppeldi og menntun. Menntavísindasvið Háskóla Íslands. Reviewed article published Desember 31. Retrieved from http://netla.hi.is/menntakvika2012/006.pdf. Guðný Guðbjörnsdóttir.(2012). Gender training in education in Iceland in view of good practices in Portugal, Denmark and Spain. Paper presented at a conference on Gender training in education, Portugal, 18-19 October 2012. European Commission. http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/tools/good-practices/review-seminars/education_en.htm Hjalmsdottir, A. (2009). “Reality Bites” Attitudes Toward Gender Equality Among Icelandic Youth. MA thesis: The University of British Columbia. Retrived on January 28. From https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/id/32087/ubc_2009_fall_hjalmsdottir_andrea.pdf Kitzinger, J. (1995). Qualitative Research: Introducing focus groups: A guide for medical professionals. in BMJ Clinical Research Ed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2550365/pdf/bmj00603-0031.pdf Lahelma, E.(2011). Gender Awareness in Finnish Teacher Education: an Impossible Mission? Education Inquiry, 2(2), 263–276. Skelton, C. (2007). Gender, policy and initial teacher education. Gender and Education, 19(6), 677-690. Weaver-Hightower, M.B.(2003). The "Boy Turn" in Research on Gender and Education. Review of Educational Research, 73(4), 471-498. World Economic Forum.(2013).The Global Gender Gap Report 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2014 from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2013.pdf Younger, M. (2007). The gender agenda in secondary ITET in England: forgotten, misconceived or what? Gender and Education, 19(3), 387-414. Younger, M. and Warrington, M. (2008). The gender agenda in primary teacher education in England: fifteen lost years. Journal of Education Policy, 23(4), 429-445.
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