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Article

Martinette V. Horner, Derrick D. Jordan, and Kathleen M. Brown

Academic optimism was developed in 2006 as a latent concept that provides insight into the improvement of student outcomes especially for those who, because of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other demographics, have historically been labeled as underperforming. The three main components of academic optimism (academic emphasis, collective emphasis, and faculty trust) underscore the reality that the teachers, parents, and students all play a critical role in the education arena when it comes to ensuring that students fully grow and stretch to the fullest extent possible. High academic optimism in a school suggests that academic achievement is valued and supported; the faculty has the capacity to help students achieve; and students and parents can be trusted as partners of the school for student achievement. Each of these can be controlled by the actions and decisions of school leaders and faculty so that schools can overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement.

Article

Judith Meece and Charlotte Agger

Achievement motivation theories are used to understand gender discrepancies in motivation across various academic domains. Early on in the field of motivation research, researchers commonly used an attribution framework to study achievement-related outcomes among men and women. Self-efficacy theory and a revised expectancy-value theory of achievement-related choices dominate the current literature on gender differences and achievement motivation. Current trends in research on gender and academic motivation include the shifting and expanding of theoretical frameworks, a new focus on the motivation and achievement of male students, and the use of advanced methodologies and cross-national data to conduct comparative research on gender and patterns of motivation.

Article

Discourses in the early 21st century surrounding the presumption of childhood innocence were undergirded by antiblackness. The theorization of antiblackness within the context of race, gender, and education has been beneficial to understanding how the mistreatment of Black children and the illegitimacy of Black childhoods within the white American racial imaginary is seemingly justified. Foundational to the United States, antiblackness is a race-based paradigm of racial othering and subjugation through a litany of organized structural violence against Black people. Structured outside the realms of humanity and civil society, Black life, through this paradigm, is regarded as other than human. Arguably, antiblackness shapes all racialized, gendered, sexualized conditions and experiences of all Black people, including the age compression of Black children. Antiblackness scholarship posits that there is an institutional unwillingness to see Black youth as children. Discourses on what it means to be a child, who can occupy that position, and when a particular stage of a child’s development is reached, are all structured against Black youth. Pathologized as deviant, adult-like problems, Black children occupy life in a liminal space, where they are denied childhood status but carry adult-like culpability. As adultified Black youth, they lack autonomy and are not granted leniency to learn from their mistakes like their white peers. With their actions and intentions perceived as deviant, ill-willed, or hypersexual, Black children are susceptible a wide range of violence from school punishment, the criminal justice system, sexual abuse and exploitation, and excessive police force.

Article

Arts-based pedagogies hold incredible promise for education. Arts-based pedagogies provide unique, compelling pathways for teaching and learning that can permit entry to and support the success of all students regardless of gender, race, sexuality, religion, linguistic diversity, ability level, socioeconomic status, and other identity categories. Arts-based pedagogies can form the foundation of a transdisciplinary educational approach that centers contemporary understandings of multiple and multimodal literacies and meaning-making strategies useful to teachers across disciplines and in more integrated teaching and learning contexts. Crucially, when implemented through a critical framework, arts-based pedagogies can be equity-based pedagogies, allowing for the translation of research, teaching, and learning into awareness, understanding, creation, and activism.

Article

Late 20th-century and early 21st-century social movement toward gender equality in society has been significant. Parents and educators commonly expect that all youngsters should have the same life opportunities regardless of gender. In education, girls and young women are excelling, often equaling and even surpassing boys and men in academic performance and in earning college degrees and graduate degrees. Further, women are more frequently assuming traditionally “masculine” professional roles (doctor, lawyer, manager, legislator, governor, and others) while men more frequently assume traditionally “feminine” roles, successfully taking on more child care and housework, and working in nursing and other traditionally “feminine” fields. At the same time, preferences for gender hierarchy are still strongly expressed in many areas of society. At the top of leading social institutions including government and business, men still possess far more political, economic, and intellectual leadership power and authority in comparison to women; and in reaction to political and economic power imbalances, women’s rights activists sometimes express the idea of female superiority instead of arguing for gender equality. In the area of socialization, girls and women continue experiencing high levels of gender-specific pressure to conform to narrow ideals of physical beauty and emotional supportiveness, while boys and men continue experiencing pressure to avoid communicating about their vulnerabilities and emotions, possibly stunting their emotional development and impairing their mental health. In this context, gender equality emerges as a vital, early-21st-century educational imperative that is essential in actualizing what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has designated the right of all people to an education for the “full development of the human personality.” In the gender equality imperative’s emergence in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the following elements are all interrelated: philosophical perspectives and sociopolitical developments indicating a need for gender equality, thinking and practices opposed to gender equality, and the development of pro-gender-equality educational understandings and practices.

Article

The United States prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education via federal law. Case law in the United States also applies the prohibition of sex discrimination to incidents that were motivated by a person’s sex or gender, including gender identity and expression. Enumerated nondiscrimination, school-based policies that include gender identity and expression are among the foundational policies advocated for by researchers and practitioners that aim to make schools safer for transgender and gender nonconforming students. These policies serve as a foundation for all other interventions or policies that may be implemented in a school to increase safety for transgender and gender nonconforming students. Further, enumerated nondiscrimination policies provide students with a clear understanding of their rights at school, and they provide school personnel with grounding to prevent and intervene in gender-based discrimination. Research has found that transgender and gender nonconforming students experience high levels of stigma (e.g., manifested as discrimination, stigma-based bullying) in schools, and that these school-based experiences are associated with compromised educational outcomes in addition to disparities in behavioral, physical, and psychological health. Students in schools that have enumerated nondiscrimination policies report less bias stigma-based bullying attributed to gender identity and expression compared to students in schools with non-enumerated policies. Further, students are more likely to report that teachers intervene in stigma-based bullying attributed to gender identity and expression in schools that have enumerated nondiscrimination policies compared to those that do not. Finally, studies have found that nondiscrimination policies that include gender identity and expression attenuate the negative consequences of stigma for students.

Article

Crystal Morton, Danielle Tate McMillan, and Winterbourne Harrison-Jones

Though the formal and informal mathematics learning experiences of Black girls are gaining more visibility in the literature, there is still a paucity of research around Black girls’ mathematics learning experiences. Black girls face unique challenges as learners in K–12 educational spaces because of their marginalized racial and gender identities. The interplay of race and racism unfolds in complex ways in Black girls’ learning experiences. This interplay hinders their development as mathematics learners and limits their access to transformative learning. As early as elementary school, Black girls are labeled as having limited mathematics knowledge and are often disproportionately placed in “lower level classrooms” devoid of any rigorous and transformative learning experiences. Teachers spend more time socially correcting Black girls rather than building on their brilliance. Even though Black girls value mathematics more and have higher confidence in mathematics than their White counterparts, they are still held to lower expectations by their teachers and are less likely to complete an advanced mathematics course. Nationally and globally, mathematics serves as an academic gatekeeper into every avenue of the labor market and higher education opportunities. Thus, the lack of opportunities Black girls have to engage in rigorous and transformative mathematics potentially locks them out of higher education opportunities and STEM-based careers. The mathematics learning experiences of Black girls move beyond challenges in K–12 spaces to limiting life choices and individual and community progress. To improve the formal and informal mathematics learning experiences of Black girls, we must understand their unique learning experiences more fully.

Article

The global expansion of higher education since the last quarter of the 20th century reflects political and socioeconomic developments, including opening up economic opportunities and addressing neoliberal agendas such as corporatization, digitization, individualization, and marketization. This process of the so-called massification of higher education has also been called academic capitalism, whereby business models predominate what was once considered a public good and a form of liberal arts education. These transformations have implications for questions of equal opportunity and social justice in regard to gender and sexuality linked to diversity, race, and social class, or intersectionality. Transformations include involvement and participation for students, academics, faculty, and researchers. From a feminist perspective, the various transformations have not increased equality or equity but have instead reinforced notions of male power, misogyny and patriarchy, and social class and privilege, despite the massive increase in involvement of women as students and academics through policies of widening access or participation. The new models of global higher education exacerbate rather than erode inequalities of power and prestige between regions, institutions, and gendered, classed, and raced individuals.

Article

Critical autism studies (CAS) is an emergent field that challenges deficit-based thinking about autism. Early scholars of autism, such as psychologists Bruno Bettelheim, Leo Kanner, or Ivar O. Lovaas, adopted a biomedical or behavioral approach to the study of autism. Rejecting such an approach, critical disability studies and by extension CAS have developed robust theoretical frameworks to account for the sociocultural and embodied experience of disability, including the social model of disability, the cultural model of disability, and poststructural models of disability. These approaches to the study of disability challenge medical models of disability that understand disability as an individual experience of impairment. Disability is framed as a problem to be solved via biomedicine and helping professionals and instead conceive of disability as a web of sociocultural entanglements. In contrast, theoretical approaches to critical autism studies include critical discourse analysis (CDA), feminist theory, and critical race theory. Scholars using CDA explore how ableism is produced and sustained through discourses, particularly public discourses within the media, scholarship, non-governmental organizations, and schools. Critical autism scholars who employ critical race theory seek to understand the intersectional identities of autistic people of color and the compounding effects of racism and ableism. Feminist approaches to the study of autism trouble gender stereotypes about autistic people, most notably Simon Baron Cohen’s extreme male brain theory.

Article

Boni Wozolek

Critical geography, as it is studied in North America and parts of Europe, has been growing since the 1970s. However, focusing on gender, sexual orientation, race, home language, or the like, was not a primary concern of the field until the mid-1980s. As radical critical geography shifted toward cultural and critical geography, marginalized voices could be heard in and across the field in local and less-local contexts. As critical geography began to intersect with education in the mid-1990s, it became a tool for studying marginalization across layers of scale. Fields of geography are impacted as much by contemporary sociopolitical dialogues as they are by educational research and its related historical boundaries and borders. Finally, it is significant to consider what a critical gender-queer geography might mean as the field continues to grow.

Article

In South Africa, new legislation and policies on inclusive education in the post-apartheid era since 1994 have placed a strong emphasis on equity, equality, and human rights, as defined in the South African Constitution. As a result, a White Paper on building an inclusive education and training system was published in 2001. It acknowledges the failure of the education system to respond to the barriers to learning and development experienced by a substantial number of learners, including diverse learning needs caused by, for example, language, socioeconomic, or gender issues as well as disabilities. This policy document describes inclusive education as being based on the ideals of equity and equality and as a result recognizing and respecting learner and learning diversity within mainstream schools. As stated in the policy, in practice this means identifying and removing barriers in the education system to ensure that the full range of diverse learning needs are met in mainstream classrooms as well as providing support to learners and teachers in addressing barriers to learning and development. Research studies on the implementation of inclusive education in South Africa, however, are finding that despite the development of a wide range of implementation guidelines since 2007, complex interrelated issues continue to complicate the development of successful inclusive schools. These issues include a continued divergence of views of inclusive education with a continuing strong belief in special education and separate educational settings by most teachers, therefore leading to a resultant lack of clarity regarding the implementation of inclusive education at the level of local practice in schools and classrooms. These differences in the understanding of inclusive education and its enactment in diverse school contexts also bring the question of power and agency into South African debates about inclusive education: who should decide which version of inclusive education should be the goal of the development of inclusive education in a specific school district or a specific school. Furthermore, contextual issues including the lack of financial and human resources, for example effectively trained teachers, effectively functioning district educational support teams for schools in specific school districts, lack of textbooks, and overcrowded classrooms, play a dominant role in the development of effective inclusive schools.

Article

Transnationalism, gender, and education are bound together through a global need for cheap, replaceable labor. Women work for less (cheap labor) and often travel globally for work. Education has not been exempt from this phenomenon and teachers’ roles in transnational and global knowledge production and teaching have not always been documented. Despite this, women have been resisting the exploitation of their labor through diasporic transnational networks; one such example is Afro-Caribbean women teachers who demonstrate how a politics of refusal, diasporic transnationalism, and liberation are bound together in interlocking ways. Diasporic transnationalism allows marginalized people to resist a world created on inequities that tells them they are not capable of agency and their own definitions of liberation.

Article

Rachel Hanebutt and Carlyn Mueller

Disability studies and crip theory emerged out of a need to reimagine, and directly challenge, dominant deficit perspectives of disability in many different contexts. Instead of framing disability as a problem of individual bodies, where the solution to difference is found in often deeply harmful rehabilitation and intervention, disability studies and crip theory allow for a more critical and expansive look at disability as an aspect of identity and culture that holds inherent value. While disability studies and crip theory have been used in academic and activist spaces, the impacts of a more critical and expansive framing of disability have incredibly important impacts on, and reciprocal relationships with, the theory and practice of education. Disability studies and crip theory both work to simultaneously critique and change dominant perspectives of disability in school settings, as it does in academic theory spaces; it challenges teachers, schools, and curriculum to ask questions of the benefits of using deficit perspectives, and what is lost when disability is seen only as a problem to be fixed. In this way, these two fields of inquiry and practice continue to shape, challenge, and push each other toward a more just sense of disability for all.

Article

Pamela J. Bettis and Nicole Ferry

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the international bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (2013), argues that women need to engage more actively in the workplace and take the professional and emotional risks required in leadership. In many ways, Sandberg’s own story is the fulfillment of the promise of the “Alpha Girl,” Harvard psychologist Dan Kindlon’s name for the new face of girlhood. Kindlon maintains that contemporary young Western women have initiated a new era of female empowerment, with girls interested mainly in future careers and not romantic relationships. Meanwhile, the U.S. public discourse pertaining to boys frames them as troubled and in need of more attention. The popular press notes that girls outperform boys in school; that boys are more likely to repeat a grade; more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability; and more likely to be expelled, suspended, and disciplined in school. Furthermore, adolescents who do not adhere to gender normativity or who identify as transgender are continually neglected in mainstream considerations of youth, school policies, curriculum, and educational spaces. Over the course of recent decades, U.S. discourses of adolescence and gender, including those found in popular and academic discussions, have shifted. As girls become the new models of success, as boys are deemed worthy of extra attention, and as gender-transgressive students remain absent from the discussions altogether, it is imperative that educators keep abreast of these changing discourses that shape the way we talk about and understand youth.

Article

The words diversity and multiculturalism are ubiquitous in the contemporary educational lexicon. They are certainly hallmarks in many educational conversations. Recent trials, tribulations, and triumphs in the areas of diversity and multiculturalism are not without historical context or educational precedent. The evolution of diversity and multiculturalism in the United States has been and continues to be a struggle. The lofty language that is immortalized in the United States Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance promises all U.S. citizens the right to life, liberty, safety, happiness, and so forth. However, this promise has not always been kept for all U.S. citizens. The full recognition of one’s rights in the United States has depended on one’s race/ethnicity, gender, social class, religious beliefs, ability status, and so forth. Consequently, the United States has also denied, ostracized, and oppressed groups of people based on these same aforementioned identities (e.g., slavery, segregation, sexism, etc.). This resulted in amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the American Civil Rights Movement, and the Women’s Rights Movement, as well as others. These movements were no panacea; they simply weakened overt manifestations of bias, and allowed for more nuanced, covert, and/or institutionalized forms of bias. The elimination of overt bias also creates the illusion of success. People begin to think that the problems are solved because they are not obvious anymore. This highlights the need for diversity and multiculturalism in order to identify and expose covert bias and remind people that the struggles of the past are not just part of history; they undergird the problems we face today (e.g., achievement gaps, disproportionate discipline, and misidentification for special education). Ultimately, diversity/multiculturalism has the ability to provide a kind of interconnectedness among people by having them face the perplexing problems of equity, equality, social identity, and personal philosophy. Embracing and understanding diversity/multiculturalism is the key to unlocking its transformational power.

Article

Jennifer Hatten-Flisher and Rebecca A. Martusewicz

Ecofeminism is a theoretical, political, and educational movement that draws specific parallels between the domination of women and other marginalized groups, and the degradation of nature. While much of ecofeminist thought is focused on examining the interconnectivity between social and environmental injustices, ecofeminism is as vast and varied as its feminist and ecological roots. Yet, ecofeminism is not without its critics. After being widely accused of essentializing women’s relationship with nature, the term fell out of favor with a lot of scholars in the 1990s. Those who have remained loyal to the term have argued that this was an unfair mischaracterization of the larger foundational ideas within ecofeminist work. Given the global environmental and social crises currently sweeping the planet, ecofeminism offers important, albeit diverse, theoretical, practical, and pedagogical perspectives for developing effective responses to such interrelated crises. As such, scholars across a variety of disciplines are revisiting (and reclaiming) ecofeminist thought. In the field of education, ecofeminism is influencing the ways that we approach questions of justice by offering an intersectional framework that insists on recognizing the interconnected roots of racism, sexism, poverty, ablism, and other social problems with ecological degradation. An ethics of care is woven throughout to form the basis of a pedagogy of responsibility whereby students learn to both critique these cultural foundations of violence and identify practices and relationships that help to create healthy sustainable communities.

Article

The term “Anthropocene” was coined in 2000 by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer to denote the present time interval as a new epoch of geological time dominated by human impact on the Earth. The starting date for the epoch is contentious—around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (ca. 1800 ce), at the start of the nuclear age, or some other time, both earlier and later than these dates. The term itself is also contentious because of its humanist and human supremacy focus, and the way it hides troublesome differences between humans (including gender and cultural differences) and the intimate relationships among technology, humans, and other animals. Endeavors such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve gender equality by empowering women to participate in society. However, within this goal is the assumption that women and “other marginalized Others” can be assimilated within the dominant social paradigm rather than questioning the assumptions that maintain the subordination of these social groups. The goals also overlook the divergent impacts on women around the globe. Education in an Anthropocene context necessitates a different pedagogy that provides opportunities for learning to live in and engage with the world and acknowledges that we live in a more-than-human world. It also requires learners to critique the Anthropocene as a concept and its associated themes to counter the humanist perspective, which fails to consider how the nonhuman and material worlds coshape our mutual worlds. In particular, education in the Anthropocene will need to be interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or cross-disciplinary; intersectional; ecofeminist or posthumanist; indigenous; and participatory.

Article

This article explores the most effective approaches to reducing unintended pregnancies and improving girls’ education. Unintended adolescent pregnancies have gained substantial media attention across the globe over the past 20 years as the number of pregnant girls has increased annually. Multiple approaches have been implemented in attempt to reduce unintended adolescent pregnancies, such as sex education, the provision of contraceptives by the Department of Health, and addressing the role of young men, which are deemed to be the most commonly used approaches in South African schools. Study findings reveal that the most effective approaches to reducing adolescent pregnancies are sex education, access to contraceptives, peer education programs, and life skills training.

Article

Agential realism presents a posthuman onto-epistemology that facilitates nuanced ways of engaging with the production of gender. Some key ways in which cisnormativities privilege particular ways of doing gender premise the need for a nonessentializing means of conceptualizing gender. Agential realism is situated among a range of research and educational approaches that are already engaged in this project. The theory makes a novel contribution to this project via its treatment of matter and discursivity as immanently entangled, which fundamentally reconfigures thinking around how gender may manifest. Definitions and examples of the use of Baradian terms, including phenomena, apparatuses, intra-action, ethico-onto-epistemology, spacetimemattering, and diffraction, demonstrate agential realism’s capacity to expand gender theory. The approach becomes a means of simultaneously engaging with less conventional ways in which gender is already experienced, as well as potentiating more expansive possibilities for gendered becomings. As evidence of its impact, research that has employed agential realist thinking in relation to gender in and beyond educational settings is drawn on to further delineate the field. This includes four subsections—early childhood gender education, secondary school gender and education, tertiary educational genderings, and extracurricular genderings—each of which draws on a range of circumstances and responses to gender. These examples embody leading scholarship at the juncture of agential realism and gender theory, which already offer a diversity of considerations that otherwise would not have been possible.

Article

Mary Newbery

Since the 1960s, feminist curriculum scholarship and social and political activism have been entangled in mutually influential ways. Feminist engagements with difference demonstrate the complex ways the field of curriculum studies is immersed in the cultural, social, and political commitments of the wider communities in which it inhabits. As second-wave feminist scholars grappled with their understandings of and resistances to the “Man” of liberal humanism occurring in the United States amid the social and political upheavals occurring in the United States beginning in the late 1950s, feminist curriculum scholars engaged in related academic endeavors. For example, prevalent themes in these “early” feminist curriculum scholars’ work included taking up feminist themes of “the personal as political” and women’s solidarity as a political strategy enacted to resist patriarchy. By the 1980s, however, feminist scholars began to decenter the universal, humanist subject amid widespread critiques of the lack of inclusivity in second-wave feminisms. These efforts helped complexify our understandings of the “we” of feminism(s) and feminist curriculum studies. These decenterings led to what some have called an identity crisis in both mainstream and academic renderings of feminism(s), characterized by two distinct and oftentimes factionalized feminist approaches for understanding difference. The first was the adoption of identity politics as the foundation for theories and activisms directed toward emancipatory ideals and outcomes. From this perspective, solidarity within identity groups became a feminist strategy on which to build knowledge projects and activisms. The second, sometimes categorized under the umbrella of poststructural feminism(s), understood freedom as deriving from a rejection of identity as static, and instead dismissed the notion of foundational subjectivity as a precursor for both feminist scholarship and political activism. In feminist curriculum studies, these developments led to troublings of teachers’ autobiographical subjectivity and challenges to historical accounts that include the interrogation of humanist notions of representation, reflection, and linearity, for example. Not all relationships with feminism(s) fit into this category, however. The political and cultural environment of the 1980s included the rise of a highly mobilized New Right, characterized in the United States by the Reagan and Bush Sr. presidencies, a deteriorating job market in Western economies, deregulation, an acceleration of asymmetrical flows of global capital, transnational trade agreements, and the exploitation of non-Western job markets for cheap labor. This led to new and different intertwinings of feminism and neoliberal capitalism. As a result, both mainstream and academic feminism(s) were increasingly engaged with the paradoxes and contradictions of postfeminism, a concept utilized to characterize both an acknowledgment and rejection of feminism(s) during this era. By the second decade of the new millennium, a fourth wave seemed imminent, brought on by global responses to the September 11, 2001, bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and hashtag movements such as #me too and #Bringbackourgirls movements. As bodies, capital, and the material world mingle and flow in newly explored and complex ways, emergent trends in feminist curriculum studies include an increased interest in the non-human, posthuman, and more-than-human worlds and the ways they intra-act with feminist new materialist theories and post-anthropocentric worlds.