23 SES 08 B, Gender, Race, Equality
Parallel Paper Session
Gender differences and inequalities persist in education in terms of subject preferences and performance, and in cultural aspects of the education and training experience. This is a key message from a new independent expert report on gender and education issued by the European Commission. (NESSE, 2009). The gender mainstreaming strategy tries to remedy this deficiency. It is a strategy which obliges everybody involved in processes of political decision-making to apply gender-related and gender-differentiated perspectives to all decisions, at all levels, as a matter of course. It contains a potential for political change. A gender perspective must be adopted by regular staff who in most cases will not be gender experts. Gender mainstreaming is a way to make sure that the general objective of gender equality is taken into account when designing policies and implementing measures. It is present at least in the policy documents of almost all European countries (Eurydice 2010:53). But real implementation is in short supply. The farthest advanced is Sweden. Gender mainstreaming as a Strategic approach is here reflected in school curricula, including the principle that gender equality should not be treated in isolation, but is to be integrated into all subjects (l.c.:54). My research has been carried out in Sweden because this country has practical experience of implementation of gender mainstreaming in many areas including that of education. During the time I carried out my research there was political support as well as funding for gender mainstreaming in schools in Sweden. Thus I was able to collect data from a variety of experiences with gender mainstreaming processes in schools.The aim of the analysed early gender mainstreaming school projects was to achieve permanent changes in the gender order in the everyday life of the school. Supportive measures were provided from the outset. The projects being the result of political decision-making, considerable resources were provided. There was a choice of a wide range of proven gender mainstreaming methods. The most far-reaching project in terms of gender mainstreaming was based on the concept that the process of changing the gender-order was the responsibility of all actors in any particular school. Gender patterns were analysed by students and staff together, for instance mapping exactly in what circumstances a person felt discriminated against, and exactly how the situation was reacted to. Plans for action were then worked out, which included concrete objectives, a time-frame and identification of those responsible. The success of the project was due to the active participation of all persons involved and the inclusion of all non-teaching staff such as caretakers, canteen employees, librarians etc in helping to make gender inequalities visible. The process must be clearly defined by means of a gender analysis of the workplace in question, based on a thorough understanding of relations between the sexes in terms of power structures, and by means of common concrete objectives drawn up within the framework of a set time table and clearly defined areas of responsibility. Finally there must be a thorough evaluation of the whole process.
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