10 SES 08 D, Entrepreneurship, Gender and E-portfolios
Finland is a country with long traditions of promoting gender equality and higher education for women as well Finland has received high rankings in overall gender equality by international comparisons (Heikkinen 2012; Husu 2007). The current Equality Act between Women and Men in Finland requires schools as well universities to promote the gender equality and prevent the discrimination (Act 1986/609).
Our presentation draws on a research where students’ experiences and views on gender equality and awareness in the Faculty of Education have been studied (Jauhiainen, Laiho & Kovalainen 2012). Faculty offers among others teacher education. Promoting gender equality is not a question of opinion for teachers and other professionals in the field of education, but an obligatory responsibility in Finland. It is important to study how students in the field of education regard gender equality in their studies. The students' views are needed both to make gender equality plans – obligated by Equality Act – and to develop curricula in the Faculty.
As Lombardo and colleagues (2010) state gender equality is a concept that has travelled a lot: through time and place, across national borders, across national and international organizations as well as policy actors. Furthermore, the education system is strongly integrated into the society around it. There is a lack of universally accepted definition of gender equality in education, but as Lynch and Baker (2005, p. 154) express: “Schools and colleges need to be inclusive institutions that teach students and teachers to engage critically with difference and to analyse and challenge inequality.”
The national equality policy is a central starting point to the pursuit of the functional equality but it does not guarantee that the equality in the education comes true (Cushman 2010). Since the 1970s a significant amount of equality work has been conducted in co-operation with schools, universities, vocational training, teachers, researchers, adult educators, governments and employer in Finland. However, the promotion of equality seems to be women-based, project-based and marginalised political activity. (Brunila 2012; Brunila & Ylöstalo 2013.) During the last years political will to promote gender equality in education has strengthened. In the background of the will lies gender differences of learning outcomes brought out by international and national comparisons and the segregation of the education fields as a continual problem. Also supranational actors – for example OECD, UN, EU – have an influence on national equality policy goals. (Laiho 2013.)
Conducting equality surveys is one part of equality work in educational institutions. However, it is important to resist“…writing about equality work as something that can be synthesized into a singular picture that tells the whole truth about equality.” as Brunila (2012, p. 251) writes. Equality survey in the context of education can be a starting point to begin ask more critical questions. In this presentation we discuss about contradictions in our equality survey data based on quantitative and qualitative information. Especially in the feminist methodology there has been debate about quantitative and qualitative ways of knowing which has resulted on criticism of quantitative research methods (Oakley 1998). In addition, we ponder the challenges of the equality surveys in the educational institutions.
Act 1986/609. Act on Equality between Women and Men. Brunila, K. (2012) Words that matter: Revisiting equality work in education. In Cultural practices and transitions in education, eds. T. Tolonen, T. Palmu, S. Lappalainen & T. Kurki, 240–254. The Tufnell Press: London. Heikkinen, M. (2012) Sexist harassment as an issue of gender equality politics and policies at university. Acta Universitatis Ouluensis.Series E, Scientiae rerum socialium 131. Husu, L. (2007) "Women and universities in Finland: relative advances and continuing contradictions". In Women, Universities, and Change, ed. M. A. Danowitz Sagaria, 89 –111. New York: Palgrave - Macmillan 2007. Jauhiainen, A., Laiho, A. & Kovalainen, P. (2012) ”Työsarkaa riittää” Opiskelijoiden käsityksiä ja kokemuksia sukupuolesta, tasa-arvosta ja yhdenvertaisuudesta Turun yliopiston kasvatustieteen tiedekunnassa. Turun yliopiston kasvatustieteiden tiedekunnan julkaisuja A: 213. Laiho, A. (2013) Sukupuolten tasa-arvo koulutuspoliittisena tavoitteena ja käsitteenä – erityistarkastelussa 2000-luvun politiikkadokumentit. Kasvatus & Aika 7 (4), 27–44. Lahelma, E. (2011) Gender Awareness in Finnish Teacher Education: an Impossible Mission? Education Inquiry, 2: 263–276. Lombardo, E., Meier, P. & Verloo, M. (2010) Discursive Dynamics in Gender Equality Politics: What about ‘Feminist Taboos’? European Journal of Women’s Studies 17: 105–123. Marchbank, J. & Letherby, G. (2006) Views and Perspectives of Women’s Studies: a Survey of Women and Men Students. Gender and Education 18: 157–182. Maynard, M. (1994) Methods, practice and epistemology: the debate about feminism and research, in Researching women’s lives from a feminist perspective, eds. M. Maynard & J. Purvis, 27–48. London: Taylor & Francis. Oakley, A. (1998). Methodology and People's Ways of Knowing: Some Problems with Feminism and the Paradigm Debate in Social Science. Sociology 32: 707–731. Ronkainen, S. 2004. Kvantitatiivisuus, tulkinnallisuus ja feministinen tutkimus. Teoksessa Marianne Liljeström (toim.) Feministinen tietäminen. Keskustelua metodologiasta. Tampere: Vastapaino, 44–69. Subrahmanian, R. (2005) Gender equality in education: Definitions and measurements. International Journal of Educational Development 25: 395–407. Unterhalter, E. (2005) Fragmented frameworks? Researching women, gender, education and development. In Beyond Access: Transforming Policy and Practice for Gender Equality in Education, eds. S. Aikman & E. Unterhalter, 15–3. Oxford: Oxfam.
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