23 SES 08 B, Gender, Race, Equality
Parallel Paper Session
Gender inequality in school performance and educational/professional choice is a stable and enduring phenomenon. For the last decade supranational actors like the OECD or the EU (1) as well as national governments have been striving towards reducing gender inequality in education by promoting policies and measures against the stereotyping of school subjects and fields of study. These expectations towards educational organisations to adjust school culture, curriculum, teaching material and teaching/learning settings in order to avoid gender inequalities can be described as the "driving force" behind educational reforms.
With regard to the question of how schools, headmasters and teachers respond to these expectations to improve gender equality in education by implementing recommended measures we have little empirical data available. In view of results of institutionally oriented research in educational governance we can assume that educational organisations and professions are not in all cases pleased with these expectations of educational administration and gender equality policy. Rather we can suppose that schools and teachers exhibit latent or manifest forms of "resistance" and criticise the expected or on-going reforms.
The aim of this paper is to describe and to interpret on the basis of a sociological conceptual framework the process of institutionalisation of gender equity initiated by gender policies in educational administration. How do different actors justify their intentions for and resistance to gender-related reforms in education? What are the rationalities they are referring to in their argumentations? Which solutions are found inside the organisation to meet the requirements of external stakeholders (administration, parents) as well as the views of the members of the organisation (teacher, headmaster, and pupil)?
Neo-institutionalist approaches of organisational theory argue that formal organisations like schools are embedded in an institutional context of social expectations (e.g. gender equity) which cannot be ignored. In their decisions and activities they have to take into account such expectations of school external stakeholders to not lose their legitimacy (2). As a result, a process of institutionalisation of gender equality (3) on a regulative, normative and social-cognitive level (4) is initiated, in particular by normative mechanisms of alignment (5). The loose coupling between the formal structure of an organisation and its actual day-to-day work activities allows the schools to create "solutions" which coordinate expectations and resistance so that the organisation is able to continue to work without "disturbances" (6, 2).
To reveal and conceptualise the different competing and conflicting rationalities in educational reform processes as well as to understand the cultural compromises and organisational solutions we refer to the so called French sociology of convention (7, 8). Conventions are collectively established principles of orientation and action (orders of worth) on the basis of which coordination, evaluation and legitimation of relations and expectations between several actors take place. The social world comprises a plurality but finite number of conventions. In specific social situations actors reflexively do 'justification work' criticising or justifying particular orders of worth. To keep the organisation running, compromises, i.e. durable agreements, constructed on the basis of different conventions have to be found (9).
(1) "Report on the Gender Initiative: Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship" (http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/7/5/48111145.pdf); "Report on Gender Education Equality" (http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/19/48/46460984.pdf); "Gender Differences in Educational Outcomes: Study on the Measures Taken and the Current Situation in Europe" (http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/thematic_reports/120EN.pdf) (2) Meyer, John W. and Brian Rowan (1977): Institutionalized organizations: Formal structures as myth and ceremony, American Journal of Sociology 83(2): 340-363. (3) Ramirez, Francisco O. (2003): Frauen in der Wissenschaft - Frauen und Wissenschaft. Liberale und radikale Perspektiven in einem globalen Rahmen. In: Theresa Wobbe (Ed): Zwischen Vorderbühne und Hinterbühne. Beiträge zum Wandel der Geschlechterbeziehungen in der Wissenschaft vom 17. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart. Bielefeld: transcript: 279-305. (4) Scott, W. Richard (2001): Institutions and organizations, Second Edition, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. (5) DiMaggio, Paul J. und Walter W. Powell (1983): The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields, American Sociological Review 48(2): 147-160. (6) Weick, Karl E (1976): Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems, Administrative Science Quarterly 21(1): 1-19. (7) Boltanski, Luc, and Laurent Thévenot (1999): The Sociology of Critical Capacity. European Journal of Social Theory 2(3):359-377. (8) Diaz-Bone, Rainer (2011): Einführung in die Soziologie der Konventionen. In: Rainer Diaz-Bone (Ed.): Soziologie der Konventionen. Grundlagen einer pragmatischen Anthropologie. Frankfurt/M: Campus: 9-41. (9) Jagd, Søren (2011): Pragmatic sociology and competing orders of worth in organizations. European Journal of Social Theory 14(3):343–359.
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