ERG SES H 10, Gender and Education
This is a conceptual framing of how research on school organizations requires a feminist approach and that, to be able to meet the goal of creating research that can “talk back” (DeVault, 1999, p. 27), we must integrate quantitative methods into feminist analyses. The purpose of this paper is to consider the facet of gender on research about school organizations and to begin to think through the implications for methodology.
Gender plays an important part in the working conditions of any organization. Gender colours social interactions, power relations, managerial styles, and the types of collective behaviours that are encouraged. The organizational structures within a workplace are “always affected by symbols of gender, processes of gender identity, and material inequalities between women and men” (Acker, 1990, pp. 145-146). Schools are not immune from issues of gender. From the beginnings of teaching as a profession, education has developed as a gendered field with women as teaching staff and men as supervisors (Lortie, 1975). Teaching is a prime example of “occupational segregation” where gender divides are perpetuated within professions based on reward structures, social understanding of what deserves merit, and how different types of work should be compensated (Dunford & Perrons, 2014, p. 474). Although gender differences are frequently analysed when comparing student achievement, leadership styles, and the identity of teachers, “not all research on gender issues is feminist” (Marshall & Young, 2006, p. 64). Studies that analyse the workings of an organization cannot simply look at the difference between men and women but must investigate the how the construction of gender is embedded within the framework of an organization and how an analysis of the organization can be done with a feminist approach. “Feminist scholars rethink traditional approaches to research topics, how they pose research questions, and how they frame their research” (Marshall & Young, 2006, p. 64). Within schools, this doesn’t mean simply comparing the lives of male and female teachers, but instead, analysing the issues affecting schools through the lens of gender and with a gender-sensitive approach.
Even when an organization considers itself “gender neutral”, political and organizational change may occur according to gendered scripts that are played out constantly, perhaps subconsciously, as gender-related norms are produced within particular spaces. Feminist philosophers such as Luce Irigaray have theorized about the ways that men have been granted the right to speak universally, as if men’s experiences can be “disembodied, universal, or true” (Gross, 1986, pp. 135-136). Sandra Acker (1990) found that “since men in organizations take their behaviour and perspectives to represent the human, organizational structures and processes are theorized as gender neutral” (p. 142). This perception of being neutral does not mean that women are actually able to access the same resources or have their voices heard in the same ways as men, just that men do not perceive any differences based on gender. The reality of is that, to seem gender neutral, organizations “separate structures from the people in them” (p. 142) by ignoring the gendered nature of work and the interplay between jobs and gender. But when issues of gendered attitudes or behaviours are introduced into the discourse, they are seen to “contaminate” (p. 142) what was assumed to be neutral. Only by identifying the gendered nature of school as an organization can the overall influence of gender on political and organizational changes be uncovered.
Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations. Gender and Society, 4(2), 139-158. Blackmore, J. (2013). A feminist critical perspective on educational leadership. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 16(6), 139-154. doi: 10.1080/13603124.2012.754057 DeVault, M. J. (1999). Liberating Method: Feminism and Social Research. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Dunford, R., & Perrons, D. (2014). Power, Privilege and Precarity: The Gendered Dynamics of Contemporary Inequality. In M. Evans, C. Hemmings, M. Henry, H. Johnstone, S. Madhok, A. Plomien, & S. Wearing (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Feminist Theory (pp. 465-482): SAGE Publications. Gross, E. (1986). Philosophy, Subjectivity and the Body: Kristeva and Irigaray. In C. Pateman & E. Gross (Eds.), Feminist Challenges: Social and Political Theory (pp. 125-143). Boston: Northeastern University Press. Lortie, D. C. (1975). Schoolteacher. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Marshall, C., & Young, M. D. (2006). Gender and Methodology. In C. Skelton, B. Francis, & L. Smulyan (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Gender and Education. London: SAGE Publications. New data on international schools suggests continued strong growth. (2014, 2014-03-18). Retrieved 13 January, 2016, from http://monitor.icef.com/2014/03/new-data-on-international-schools-suggests-continued-strong-growth-2/ Oakley, A. (2005). Experiments in Knowing: Gender and method in the Social Sciences. Cambridge, UK and Massachusetts, USA: Polity Press. Tight, M. (2016). Bridging the Divide: A comparative analysis of articles in higher education journals published inside and outside North America. Higher Education, 53(2), 235-253. doi: 10.1007/s10734-005-2429-9
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.