33 SES 17 A, Culture, Education and Gender Equality
Gender equality is not eliminated from inequalities and discrimination within other institutions of society and effected by social categories such as race, class and ethnicity (UNESCO, 2014). As it is with the other social phenomena, the inequalities through gender have been shaped by the society individual live in accordingly taking a shape and direction as well. Providing the equality between men and women is vital in order to prevent any gender-based discrimination and especially for women’s not having any troubles such as discrimination and domestic violence through participating in business and social life, taking part in decision making (Demirdirek & Şener, 2014). Gender inequality has been seen to prolong as a very crucial problem all over the world despite the critical importance of equality for development of societies (World Economic Forum [WEF], 2014). The fact that the half population of human being could not benefit enhancements and improvements regarding human life eliminates the universal characteristic of these developments (United Nations Development Program [UNDP], 2016).
As in other countries reported in World Economic Forum, gender inequality is a big problem also in Turkey. According to Human Development Report in 2016, gender equality index was found to be 0.328 and the rank of Turkey among 188 countries was 69 (UNDP, 2016) which could be seen as promising. However, in the same report women were found to participate in business life with only 30% (71% men), take part in parliament with 15% (85% men) and regarding education the rate of women having education at middle school level or at a higher level was 44% (65% men) (UNDP, 2016). These show that unfortunately gender discrimination has not been dismissed at a sufficient level. Besides, the news and statistics also put forward that gender discrimination is still a critical problem in our country. Based on all these, the gender equality might be considered to be a field in need of taking action.
There are many factors effecting gender equality and the transfer of gender roles. One of these factors is education, namely school. It has a two tailed effect. Education and school could be a tool of change in addition to being a social control mechanism (Tan, 2000). Therefore, it could turn the traditional roles and their effects into an egalitarian point of view. On the other hand, the place of boys and girls within education itself and their equal access to educational facilities should be also evaluated in terms of gender equality. In both ways, that the content and individuals within education support gender equality would contribute to make this equality sustainable in the society as well. The education in schools should be planned in a way assuring the gender equality in every aspect. Especially, when the concepts and values concerning gender equality are gained through kinder garden or primary school, it would allow children get rid of stereotypes and generate a gender approach free of any sort of prejudice.
Even though, parents or the society individuals live in have an important impact on gaining egalitarian attitudes and perceptions, education’s duty through this process could not be underestimated. The role of teachers whom students mostly get in contact with is vital. Primary school is a crucial stage for gender roles’ development and during this process, teachers’ thoughts and attitudes might affect students’ awareness and sensitivity for gender equality. Based on all these explanations, the aim of this study was to raise primary school 4th grade students’ awareness regarding gender equality through a curriculum developed within the study and analyze this whole process.
In this study aiming to provide students with higher awareness for gender equality through an instructional process, the design was action research. Action research is not only a process of research but also teaching within itself. Educational action research includes working on curriculum in order to create changes or innovations through curriculum components or structure. The participants of the study were 4th graders in a primary school in Adana during 2018-2019 Fall Semester. The participants were assigned according to criterion sampling. The criteria used to determine the school was being in a middle socio-economical level, being/having a primary school and there’s being more than one class at 4th grade level. There one class with the lowest scores from the form (explained below) was assigned for the action research process. Regarding the ethical considerations, for the instruction process national education, school administration and students’ parents were asked for permission. Moreover, students and their families were also informed about the process and the video-recording. For the interviews, every student was informed and asked for permission for audio record. Throughout the action research process, there were many data collection tools in order to provide the reliability and validity of the process. For choosing the school and class, “Gender-Stereotyped Attitudes of Children Form” (for children) developed by the researchers and “Gender Roles Attitudes Scale (Zeyneloğlu & Terzioğlu, 2011)(for teachers)” were used. Within the implementation process, at the beginning “Determining Awareness for Gender Equality Form” and semi-structured interviews were used to put forward the present situation of students’ awareness for gender equality. Interviews were conducted with all of students in classroom. With the aim of determining possible content for the instruction, “Interest and Request regarding Gender Equality Form” was used with the outcomes of the other forms. Observation, Reflective Assessment Forms, Interviews (during and at the end of the process), Student Diaries were the other data collection tools. The instruction lasted for 11 weeks. For data analysis, different analyses were conducted according to the nature of data collection tools. Regarding the tools used within the pre-implementation phase, statistical analyses were conducted. For “Determining Awareness for Gender Equality Form” applied in the pre and post phases of the study, content analysis was preferred. For the Reflective Assessment Forms, descriptive analysis, for interviews and observations content analysis were utilized. For reliability and validity, inter-coder reliability, expert opinion, long term observation and triangulation have been used.
This study is an action research with many possible outcomes. The analyses have been completed and the self-observations of the researcher (teacher of the process as well), show that the instruction regarding gender equality contributed to raise students’ awareness for gender equality to some extent. The students were found to be unaware of traditional gender roles at the beginning of the process. Also the students had stereotyped behaviors and could not recognize the inequality within the family or the society. For example, some of the students assumed men’s (fathers) being busy with all the duties outside and women’s being occupied with households is a way of equal life. Students were found to get rid of some of these stereotyped behaviors and much more eligible about detecting the unequal situations in any part of social life (sport, politics, media, family, etc.). After the instruction, students were seemed to understand to an extent that all duties could be shared and what equality exactly requires. They also brought up many suggestions for women’s being more equal to men such as supporting, educating and encouraging women, giving them the same opportunities with men, etc. This study is thought to be a precious process in terms of empowering women and fighting against stereotypes and traditional gender roles at an early age. The study is also considered to gain a new instructional plan for gender equality that could be beneficial for any primary school.
Demirdirek, H. & Şener, Ü. (2014). 81 il için toplumsal cinsiyet eşitliği karnesi. Türkiye Ekonomi Politikaları Araştırma Vakfı, 30. Tan, M. (2000). Eğitimde kadın-erkek eşitliği ve Türkiye gerçeği. Kadın-Erkek Eşitliğine Doğru Yürüyüş- Eğitim, Çalışma Yaşamı ve Siyaset içinde (s.23-114). Ankara: TÜSİAD Yayınları. UNESCO (2014). Gender equality: Heritage and creativity. France: Unesco Publishing. Retrieved January 20, 2018 from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002294/229418e.pdf United Nations Development Report [UNDP]. (2016). Human Development Report. Retreived January 15, 2018 from http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2016_human_development_report.pdf World Economic Forum (2014). The Global Gender Gap Report. Retreived January 15, 2018 from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GGGR14/GGGR_CompleteReport_2014.pdf. Zeyneloğlu, S., & Terzioğlu, F. (2011). Development and psychometric properties gender roles attitude scale. Hacettepe Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 40, 409-420.
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