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Teacher Education and Gender Equity
Author: Jo Sanders
Those learning how to teach today will be responsible for teaching the next two generations of Americans. If we want an America in which girls and boys are treated, and treat each other, with respect and kindness, and in which girls as well as boys are urged and expected to fulfill their potential without restriction, then we must begin teaching about gender equity in our teacher education programs as a matter of course.
How Is Gender Inequity Manifested?
Fennema (1990) defines gender equity as the set of behaviors and knowledge that permits educators to recognize inequality in educational opportunities, to carry out specific interventions that constitute equal educational treatment, and to ensure equal educational outcomes. Accordingly, what should teacher educators be teaching preservice students about gender equity?
Expectations and attitudes
Gender Equity, Teacher Education, and Reform
Gender equity has received considerable attention in K-12 education since
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, but not in teacher education.
Unlike special and bilingual education, for example, gender equity is not
thought to merit whole departments or even courses. Yet, teacher education
is the point at which future educators are accessible in methods and foundations
courses, are there to learn, have time to learn, and don't have years of
bad teaching habits to undo. Unlike one-shot inservice workshops, semester-length
courses permit real change. This is also the only point when future teachers
are able to observe equities and inequities by other teachers in the classroom,
and to experiment with their own teaching methods.
In a Michigan survey of 30 administrators and 247 faculty members from
30 preservice teacher education programs statewide, it was found that only
11% of respondents reported extensive gender equity instruction and 38%
reported minimal to no gender equity instruction. Respondents thought gender
equity should be taught more and said more interest from students and colleagues
and more coverage in the professional literature would help (Mader, 1994).
What Efforts Are Being Made?
The Teacher Education Equity Project (1993-96, National Science Foundation [NSF], IBM, Hewlett Packard, and AT&T funding) was conducted at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Sixty-one professors of mathematics, science, and technology education from 40 colleges and universities in 28 states learned how to teach gender equity to their preservice methods students and carried out mini-grant projects. Evaluation results indicated that 85% of the professors made significant improvements in their gender equity teaching behavior, with a tripling of syllabi containing gender equity (Sanders, Campbell, & Steinbrueck, 1996). Materials for including gender equity in teacher education via classroom observations, action research projects, and student assignments are now becoming available (Sanders, Koch, & Urso, in press).
A statewide project, Integrating Gender Equity and Reform (1995-98, NSF funding), involves Georgia Institute of Technology as the lead institution among six other universities and organizations. This project will help teacher educators with materials and methods for teaching gender equity to preservice teachers.
The Teacher Education Mentor Project (1996-99, NSF funding) is designed to make gender equity instruction more systemically taught in mathematics, science, and technology education programs. Teams of teacher educators, partner school personnel, and others at seven colleges and universities will participate.
The Marymount Institute for the Education of Women and Girls in Tarrytown, New York, has a major focus on gender equity in teacher education.
In 1996, the U.S. Department of Education's Gender Equity Expert Panel, including a subpanel on teacher preparation, began work to design and implement a process for identifying, reviewing, and recommending promising and exemplary programs, products, and practices to educators and community members.
In gender equity, teacher education is a last frontier that is finally beginning to open up. Materials are now being developed, professional publications are beginning to cover gender equity issues, professional meetings are devoting some time to it, and individual teacher educators are starting to become concerned about it. Gender equity could become a hot topic in teacher education, just in time for the next two generations.
References identified with an EJ or ED number have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should be available at most research libraries; most documents (ED) are available in microfiche collections at more than 1,000 locations. Documents can also be ordered through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service: (800) 443-ERIC.
AAUW Educational Foundation. (1992/1995). How schools shortchange girls. A study of major findings on girls and education. The AAUW report. Washington, DC: Author and National Education Association. ED339674
Campbell, P. B., & Sanders, J. (1997, January/February). Uninformed but interested: Findings of a national survey on gender equity in preservice teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 48(1), 69-75.
Fennema, E. (1990). Justice, equity and mathematics education. In E. Fennema & G. C. Leder (Eds.), Mathematics and gender, (pp. 1-9). New York: Teachers College Press.
Lockheed, M. (1985). Sex equity in classroom organization and climate. In S. Klein (Ed.), Handbook for achieving sex equity through education (pp. 189-217). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ED290810
Mader, C. (1994). Gender equity instruction in Michigan teacher education programs. Doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 55, 1917-A.
Rosser, S. V. (1990). Female-friendly science: Applying women's studies methods and theories to attract students. New York: Pergamon Press.
Sadker, D., & Sadker, M. (1980). Beyond pictures and pronouns: Sexism in teacher education textbooks. Newton, MA: EDC/WEEA Publishing Center.
Sadker, M., & Sadker, D. (1994). Failing at fairness: How America's schools cheat girls. New York: Macmillan Publishing. ED386268
Sanders, J. (1994). Lifting the barriers: 600 strategies that really work to increase girls' participation in science, mathematics and computers. New York: Jo Sanders Publications. ED375214
Sanders, J., Campbell, P. B., & Steinbrueck, K. (1996). One project, many strategies: Making preservice teacher education more equitable. Submitted for publication. Also see the final report for the Teacher Education Equity Project, Program for Women and Girls, National Science Foundation, Grant no. HRD-9253182.
Sanders, J., Koch, J., & Urso, J. (in press). Volume I: Teaching activities for education instructors. Volume II: Sources and resources for education students. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Sandler, B. R., Silverberg, L. A., & Hall, R. M. (1996). The chilly classroom climate: A guide to improve the education of women. Washington DC: National Association for Women in Education.
Streitmatter, J. (1994). Toward gender equity in the classroom: Everyday teachers' beliefs and practices. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. ED367739
Titus, J. J. (1993, January/February). Gender messages in education
foundation textbooks. Journal of Teacher Education, 44(1), 38-44. EJ463320
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