33 SES 03 A, Gender Inequality in Curriculum and Teaching
This paper reports on the initial phase of 3-year funded project (Jan 1, 2021- Dec.31, 2023) that explores the ways the Government of Kazakhstan’s policy of mainstreaming gender in higher education institutions (HEIs) is enacted on the ground and to what effect. Kazakhstan has initiated the policy of gender mainstreaming in HEIs to fulfil its commitment to global gender equality initiatives including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Declaration on advancing women’s rights and Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) including SDG 4 (Education) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality). Although Kazakhstan has shown demonstrable commitment to SDGs relating to gender (OECD, 2017), female students in Kazakhstan continue to be overrepresented in traditional areas of study and underrepresented in science and technology related fields (OECD, 2017). The segregation of students in particular areas of study produces gendered labor outcomes resulting in the concentration of women in feminized occupations with high prevalence of low-wages. The gendered labor outcomes and career choices, as well as a high incidence of gender-based violence (OECD, 2017) in Kazakhstan are linked to expected gender roles and unequal power relations (ADB, 2013).
To respond to the government's agenda on gender equality higher education institutions established centers and institutions on gender research. In 2016, in 38 higher educational institutions 60 elective courses on gender equality were introduced in wide ranging disciplines, including “Education”, “Humanities”, “Law”, “Social Science, Business and Economics”. These courses include “Gender Policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan”, “Introduction to gender theory”, “Constitutional and legal basis of gender policy”, “Gender and Feminism Studies”, “Gender psychology” and others. However, very little is known about how gender equality is understood or mainstreamed in educational courses in HEIs in Kazakhstan, and how these courses are being produced and enacted.
According to Rees (1998), gender mainstreaming is the systematic integration of equal opportunities into organizations and cultures and into all programs, policies and practices; into ways of seeing and doing. However, there is a concern that policy commitments to gender diminish during implementation (Morley, 2007) and that the implementation of gender mainstreaming is shaped by the nature of pre-existing gender regimes in different countries (Morley, 2007). Thus, these global and national gender equality policies adopted in Kazakhstan demand a better understanding of the ‘enactment’ of mainstreaming gender equality initiatives in higher education.
As educational institutions actively promote gender identifications via the curriculum (Durrani and Halai, 2018), this paper will explore how is gender and gender equality framed in the official curriculum and teaching and learning materials of the selected HEIs gender equality training? And in what ways are these framings shaped by or contradict the global and national gender equality policies and discourses?
This study draws on Butler (1990) theory of ‘performativity’ to understand gender as always a ‘doing’ and something which is ‘performed’ within particular social contexts (Butler, 1990). The concept of gender is usually visible in specific norms in society and causes people to think within the context of binary oppositions such as male/female, man/woman, masculinity/femininity. According to Butler (1990), the concept of gender must be extended by accepting differences, forms, and views that do not fit into norms. Gender is socially constructed and interacts with other social structures - age, class, ethnicity, religion, and nationality (Butler, 1990). Such an approach is supported by international literature evidencing that institutions, for example, the state, the workplace, and schools and HEIs are considered key sites for the configuration of gender and gender identities (Connell, 1995).
The research questions will be explored through analysis of the official gender curriculum in a range of disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, law, and humanities. The curriculum will be analyzed through but not limited to the following questions: - How gender and gender equality are framed within the curriculum and teaching materials? - What are courses/teaching objectives? - Which specific subject matters are included in the curriculum in order to attain the previously stipulated teaching objectives? - What gender norms are represented in the curriculum and teaching and learning materials? - What kind of masculinities and femininities are emphasized and what particular masculinities and femininities are marginalized or are absent?
As a first study of its kind, it is difficult to anticipate findings in advance of the analysis; however, by putting a spotlight on how gender and gender equality framed in the official curriculum and teaching and learning materials of the selected HEIs gender equality courses, the paper will offer useful implications for gender mainstreaming policy in higher education institutions. Additionally, the analysis of curriculum will help inform the next phase of ethnographically informed multi-site case-studies of higher education institutions. The focus of which would be to explore how faculty/tutors of gender equality courses negotiate the meaning of gender equality and how do they enact gender mainstreaming courses/materials through their pedagogy and assessment methods as well as students’ understanding of gender and gender equality and how do they enact gender equality in their professional and personal lives
ADB (2013) Kazakhstan Country Gender Assessment. The Philippines: Asian Development Bank Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London and New York: Routledge. Connell, R. (1995) Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press. Durrani, N. and Halai, N. (2018) Dynamics of gender justice, conflict and social cohesion: Analysing educational reforms in Pakistan. International Journal of Educational Development, 61: pp. 27-39 Morley, L. (2007). Sister-matic: gender mainstreaming in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education Vol. 12 (5-6), October- December 2007, pp. 607- 620 OECD (2017) Gender Policy Delivery in Kazakhstan, OECD Public Governance Reviews. Paris: OECD Publishing. Rees, T. (1998) Mainstreaming equality in the European Union (London, Routledge)
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