04 SES 10 B, Gender and Inclusion
Parallel Paper Session
This paper aims to examine the ‘gender regime’ of secondary schools in the Caribbean, through a case study of four secondary schools in the small Eastern Caribbean nation state of Antigua and Barbuda.
Most research on ‘gender and education’ in the Caribbean has focussed on achievement with the result that girls emerge as a ‘success story’ due to their overall higher academic achievement, and boys’ apparent under-achievement – as in other parts of the western world - has been problematised (Figueroa,2000; Chevannes, 2002; De Lisle et al, 2005). Yet research in other contexts (Francis, 2006; Warrington & Younger, 2011) has shown that a focus on boys’ academic achievement often masks other problems and inequalities, such as girls’ continuing low self-esteem, boys’ domination of classroom space and teacher attention, continued inequitable power dynamics and beliefs that it is still better to be a boy.
The extent to which these issues exist has not been well researched in the Caribbean context. In particular, there is a real lack of in-depth qualitative research which explores gender dynamics in schools anywhere in the Caribbean. The studies that do exist are few in number, now slightly dated (Bailey, 2002; Parry, 1996, 1997; Plummer, 2008), and have largely been conducted in Jamaica. However, these studies indicate that broader research on gender issues is needed in the Caribbean. For example, Bailey’s research on gendered dynamics inside Jamaican secondary school classrooms highlights girls’ experiences of sexual harassment from boys and male teachers and Parry’s research demonstrates that teachers hold strongly gendered stereotypes about boys and girls which inform the way they treat pupils in the classroom.
This paper is located within a gender-relational theoretical context, challenging the recuperative masculinity perspective which has dominated much of the recent debate about gender and achievement in Europe and Australasia, to identify the ‘hidden’ gender inequalities which may exist that have been masked by a focus on achievement scores, and to consider how the gender regime impacts upon the quality of schooling and of well-being for girls. The outcomes of the research are offered as contributing to the debate about the gender regimes of schools, not only in the Caribbean but in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe such as Scandinavia, Iberia and Germany.
· To examine evidence of differential gendered treatment in the formal and informal structures of the school and daily practices.
· To understand how girls, boys and teachers view the experiences of schooling in relation to gender.
· To understand how male and female pupils and teachers perform masculinity and femininity in the school context.
· To highlight specific areas of concern that may have been missed by a focus on achievement.
· To explore the extent to which girls, boys and teachers resist the prevailing institutional culture.
· To collect evidence of good practice with regards to gender that can be shared with other schools.
Bailey, B. 2002. Gendered realities: fact or fiction? The realities in a secondary level coeducational classroom. In: Mohammed, P., ed. Gendered realities: essays in Caribbean feminist thought. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press. Chevannes, B (2002) ‘What you sow is what you reap: violence and construction of male identity in Jamaica’ Current Issues in Comparative Education 2(1), 51-61 De Lisle, J., Smith, P. & Jules, V (2005) Which males or females are most at risk and on what? An analysis of gender differentials within the primary school system of Trinidad and Tobago Educational Studies, 31 (4) p 393-418 Figueroa, M (2000) ‘Making sense of male experience: the case of academic underachievement in the English-speaking Caribbean’ IDS Bulletin Vol 31(2), 68-74 Francis, B (2006) ‘‘Heroes or zeroes?’ The discursive positioning of ‘underachieving boys’ in English neo-liberal education policy’ Journal of Educational Policy 21(2), 187-200 Parry, O (1996) ‘In one ear and out the other: unmasking masculinities in the Caribbean classroom Sociological Research Online 1(2) Parry, O (1997) ‘Schooling is fooling: why do Jamaican boys underachieve at school’ Gender and Education 9(2), 223-232 Plummer, D (2008) Has learning become taboo and is risk-taking compulsory for Caribbean boys? Researching the relationship between masculinities, education and HIV. IN: Morrissey M., Plummer, D., Bundy D Challenging HIV & AIDS: a new role for Caribbean education. Kingston: Ian Randall Publishing Warrington, M & Younger, M (2011) 'Life is a tightrope': reflections on peer group inclusion and exclusion amongst adolescent girls and boys, Gender and Education, 22, 3: pp 153-168.
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