33 SES 08 B, Science, Engineers and Education - A Gender Perspective
Current research identified traditional gender role orientations - expressed in problem behaviour in school - as a major factor for low educational success (Hadjar et al., 2015). As gender role orientations structure attitudes, aims, motivations and, finally, behaviour, and are therefore relevant for educational success (Hadjar et al., 2015) and affect the interaction in the classroom, it is of special interest to analyse how teachers construct and handle students´ gender role orientations.
This study aims to examine the teachers´ perspective on students’ gender role orientations in a Luxembourgish secondary school by raising the following research question: Which constructions of gender roles are dominant at the lowest educational track of secondary school and how do teachers handle them in everyday school life? More specifically the aim is threefold: (1) Reconstructing the gender roles teachers aim to impart and their usual practices. (2) Reconstructing teachers´ perception of their students´ gender role orientations. (3) Analysing differences between teachers´ ideals and students´ current gender role orientations to gain insights into challenges of everyday school life. Students´ gender role orientations are reconstructed from the teachers´ points of view.
Researching constructions of gender roles in a low-achieving school environment contributes to understand underlying processes in this specific school setting. Furthermore, the professional experience in handling gender role orientations in Luxembourgish classes could serve as best practice recommendations for other European countries. In the long run, research on dealing with patriarchal gender role orientations may improve educational success of affected students fostering academic aspiration as well as inclusion in higher educational tracks.
Gender role orientations represent individual beliefs about normal roles of men and women (Harris & Firestone, 1998) reflecting gender relations in family life and at the workplace. This study focuses on patriarchal gender roles expressing compliance with traditional expectations in regard to the role of men and women in society (Livingston & Judge, 2008). Relying on the ideas of gender difference and male domination, patriarchal gender role orientations represent the maintenance of men’s domination over women and the discrediting of women and ‘the female’ (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005).
As social institutions schools play a crucial role in the reproduction of culturally specific gender roles (Davis & Greenstein, 2009), this study examines constructions of gender roles for a low-achieving secondary school track at the Luxembourgish case. This is of special interest because patriarchal gender role orientations are mostly developed on the lowest educational tracks. While boys on these tracks are more likely to demonstrate masculinity and belief in the traditional division of work expressed in the imagination of the male breadwinner and stay-at-home mum, girls show similar but weaker traditional orientations (Hadjar et al., 2015). The low-achieving boys´ higher preference for patriarchal gender roles is associated with stronger problem behaviour in school affecting educational success. Thus, living out traditional masculinity in the school environment is rejected and sanctioned, in sum lowering educational success (Hadjar & Lupatsch 2010). It should be noted that teachers assess girls’ and boys´ behaviour different, contributing to constructions of gender roles in the classroom (Hadjar et al. 2015).
The research setting was situated within the highly stratified Luxembourgish educational system. Starting with the transition to secondary school students are selected into three educational tracks with distinct aspiration levels according to their educational performance. The lowest track in Luxembourg is the Préparatoire track (Modulaire) that serves as preparation class for low-achieving students (Klapproth et al., 2014). In the Modulaire classrooms socioeconomically disadvantaged as well as students with disadvantaged migration background are overrepresented (Lenz et al., 2015). Furthermore, the proportion of boys exceeds the girls clearly (Hadjar et al., 2015b).
This study analyzed attitudes and pedagogical practices regarding gender role orientations in a low-achieving school track. Doing so, teachers and a social educational worker of 7th graders in the Modulaire track from a secondary school in the south of Luxembourg were consulted in a group discussion in 2017. The group discussion focused on track specific characteristics and challenges, pedagogical practices as well as on the problem of school alienation. A qualitative reconstructive approach – the sequential analytical habitus reconstruction (Kramer 2017) – was adopted to analyze gender role orientations as well as teachers´ attitudes and practices. Relying on rules and theoretical principles, this method aims to reconstruct implicit tacit knowledge of Modulaire teachers concerning their everyday practice of life. According the main principles of hypothesis generation (abduction) and verification/falsification the analytical process is structured as follows: At first, reviewing the transcripts, passages for analysis were identified according to research interest as well as to the interviewees´ subjective relevance. Analysis follows chronically the passages inherent structure reflecting the sequential development of the arguments during the interview. Generally, a passage consists of several sequences. Starting with the first sequence of the first passage potential hypotheses concerning attitudes and practices towards gender role orientations are drafted fanning out a spectrum of possible interpretation. Succeeding through the subsequent sequences the hypotheses are verified or rejected. Starting point to verify or reject a hypothesis is the question if the sequence serves as adequate mode of expression of the supposed attitude or practice. Additionally, horizons of comparison support the process of verification or falsification by illustrating the identified orientations and methods during the reconstruction process. Doing so, the verified hypothesis gains in value and denseness. The previously described strategy of interpretation is repeated for the other selected passages. At the end of analysis stand reconstructed gender role orientations and teachers´ attitudes and practices offering information on dominant and marginalized positions and practices within the focused school setting.
Results indicate tension between the teachers´ diversity centered gender role orientations and the students´ predominantly traditional patriarchal gender role orientations. Thus, the interaction in the classroom is based on negotiating processes, whereby the teachers aim to provide new perspectives on gender roles to the students. Regarding practices in school, teachers´ emphasize building a classroom climate characterized by reciprocal appreciation and equality. Implementing such an environment, they act as role models by exemplifying these principles in the interaction. Furthermore, they stimulate respectfully behavior during the lessons and offer opportunities to challenge and reflect traditional gender roles. Nevertheless, it became obvious that implementing a diversity perspective beyond the classroom setting faces manifold difficulties. For example, even though boys accept their female teacher playing football, they reject the same behavior shown by their female classmates. The teachers stress the importance to encounter the students respectful, meaning not to convict the students for their attitudes and way of living. Thus, it is their major strategy to establish points of contact with other, more diverse, perspectives. Students should know about their life chances beyond their familiar traditional gender role orientations. In the end they should be enabled to decide informed and autonomously about their favored way of living. Overall, analysis highlighted the strong interconnection between gender, migration and social origin, as teachers referred patriarchal gender role orientations strongly to migration background as well as low social origin. Consequently, future analysis should integrate an intersectional perspective.
Connell, R. W., & Messerschmidt, J. W. (2005). Hegemonic masculinity rethinking the concept. Gender & society, 19(6), 829-859. Davis, S. N., & Greenstein, T. N. (2009). Gender ideology: Components, predictors, and consequences. Annual Review of Sociology, 35, 87-105. Hadjar, A., Backes, S. & Gysin, S. (2015). School Alienation, Patriarchal Gender-Role Orientations and the Lower Educational Success of Boys. A Mixed-method Study. Masculinities and Social Change, 4(1), 85-116. Hadjar, A.; Fischbach, A.; Martin, R.; Backes, S. (2015b). Bildungsungleichheiten im luxemburgischen Bildungssystem. In: MEN und Université du Luxembourg (Hrsg.): Bildungsbericht Luxemburg 2015: Analysen und Befunde (S. 34-56).MEN und Université du Luxembourg, Luxembourg. Hadjar, A., & Lupatsch, J. (2010). Der Schul (miss) erfolg der Jungen. KZfSS Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 62(4), 599-622. Harris, R. J., & Firestone, J. M. (1998). Changes in predictors of gender role ideologies among women: A multivariate analysis. Sex Roles, 38(3-4), 239-252. Klapproth, F.; Schaltz, P. (2015): Klassenwiederholungen in Luxemburg. In: Ministère de l’Éducation nationale, de l’Enfance et de la Jeunesse, SCRIPT (Service de Coordination) und Université du Luxembourg (Hg.): Bildungsbericht Luxemburg. Band 2: Analysen und Befunde. Luxemburg, 76–83. Kramer, R. (2017). Sequenzanalytische Habitusrekonstruktion. Methodologische Überlegungen zu einer neuen Methode der Habitushermeneutik. In: Heinrich, M.; Wernet, A.: Rekonstruktive Bildungsforschung. Springer VS, Wiesbaden. 243-267. Livingston, B. A., & Judge, T. A. (2008). Emotional responses to work-family conflict: An examination of gender role orientation among working men and women. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(1), 207-215.
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