While all people within America have the chance to participate in the pursuit and endeavors of their dreams, equity is not a reality for all. Sexism is prejudice or discrimination that favors one gender, still a large issue within the world that keeps us further away from equity. In the context of schools, sexism refers to one gender, either male or female, being distinguished against. Usually women experience sexism more than their male counterparts. Men, historically, have benefited more because the systems were created to favor them in one way or another. Moreover, they are less likely to suffer for mistakes as opposed to women suffering more for the same mistakes. Sexism in schools predominantly affects females. Therefore, the nature of the problem and the ramifications shall be carried out, the underlying causes shall be identified and explained, a lesson plan shall be constructed, and a reflection and application to teaching practice will wrap up the discussion.
Sexism has been an ongoing problem within schools. Traditionally, the group that has had more power in society is men, and that carried over to education too. Within the educational system in America, it has been shown that females are not sufficiently prepped to take a challenging position within society and the work force once they leave a higher education (Gollnick & Chinn, 1990). According to Leaper & Brown (2014), the function of sexism is that it seeks to maintain the status and power variances between groups in culture. Families were more inclined to send their sons to school as opposed to sending their daughters. There was once a time when large numbers of females didn’t attend higher education; they only began attending in the 19th century. Even the language within textbooks can usually be sexist. Many textbooks leave out women’s contributions within history, while amplifying the male contributions, victories and impacts (Mader, 1994).
The materials that teachers use within their classrooms and the information that the students digest can have a lasting impact and can mold the student’s ideals. If a textbook is predominately discussing male achievements, it could give the impression that males are the ones holding the country together or the ones who gained any sort of momentum in the major changes within our culture. Given the state of affairs, there have been a number of ramifications on females in schools. There has been discrimination against women and girls who seek achievement in fields that are predominantly male, leading to lower self-esteems and a lack of confidence that females are fit for the task at hand. Leaper & Brown (2014) noted that for a long time it was believed that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields were the scope of interest for men. That means that any girl or woman who showed interest in such fields was ostracized in some way whether it be by male figures feeding doubt of their abilities or a scoff. Females showing interest in such fields meant that they were challenging the already established power dynamics and seeking to overturn the status quo. Sexism in schools also produces what is termed as the stereotype threat. (Lorenzi-Cioldi & Kulich, 2015) states that stereotype threat arises when females do worse in fields that are typically male-dominated such as math tests. In such instances, the females have been conditioned that such fields are for men, which means that they are less inclined to apply themselves diligently, therefore lowering their abilities with self-doubt.
There are some underlying causes of sexism in schools. The main root of the problem is traditional gender roles perpetuated by society. Although we have made leaps and bounds in the last century, there is still an air of inferiority for women as opposed to men. Within mainstream media and even comments from our president, there has been actions and words for the world to hear that places women below men. For young girls and young women, this could perpetuate the idea of being less than. (Lorenzi-Cioldi & Kulich, 2015) observed that while there has been an uptake in female education, there is still an underlying narrative that the role of the woman is that of the caregiver. That means that the woman should stay home, rear children, and take care of the house as the man goes out into the work force to bring home the main source of income. Sexism is also supported by misogyny, which is the hatred or dislike of women. Misogyny seeks to maintain the power balance in favor of men, and that has bred sexism in schools as well. Additionally, there is an economic aspect where since it is men who control majority of the factors of production, they tend to decide who will get an education (Lorenzi-Cioldi & Kulich, 2015). That has ended up in locking women out.
Some other underlying reasons are the lack of opportunities after school and the belief that education is more important for boys than it is for girls. Lack of opportunities after school is experienced more in the developing world than in the developed world (Antoninis, 2019). To reemphasize, there are many that believe that education is more important for boys than it is for girls. An interesting statistic is that one in four people globally believe that a college education is more important for boys than for girls (Antoninis, 2019). Conversely, improvements in the number of girls in education can be attributed to the rise of feminism. The essence of feminism has been fighting for equal opportunities between men and women. In the context of education, feminism has been fighting for the rights of women to have access to proper education. The result is that more girls have access to education, they drop out less, and many of them go on to have college schooling.
While sexism exists in schools, all is not lost. There have been some dramatic improvements over the last few years. The existing sexism made many women seek to challenge the status quo in schools, which resulted in an uptake of women in STEM fields and traditionally male-dominated fields. Globally, there has been an uptake in female education. The overall pursuit has been gender equality within school systems. In the US, women account for 56% of college degrees (National Center for Education Statistics, 2019). The existence of blatant sexism led women to fight for their right to get a proper education, and the result is that more women are getting college degrees and showing an interest within STEM fields. Therefore, while sexism has had some negative effects on females in schools, it has also led to some positive effects and changes, such as encouraging many women to fight injustices.