Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gender in Teaching

Often the media discusses inequities between genders in the workforce.  The current book Lean In caused some backlash as author Sheryl Sandberg discussed gender in relation to work and leadership.

In most of these discussions, however, the topic is almost always women.  What about men?  In a female-dominated field like education, the tables are turned and men are in the minority.

This infograph gives a quick overview:

The part that stood out to me the most on this image is that "pupils try harder for male teachers."  Anecdotally, I have seen some students work much harder for a male teacher than their homeroom female teacher.  However, I think teacher and student personality played a large factor in the situation I am thinking of.

Searching around, I found this article from the National Bureau of Economic Research: Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement.

The study is a little dated (1988), but it examined student outcomes (test scores, perceptions of performance, intellectual engagement like looking forward to class, finding it useful, and feeling comfortable asking questions) based on gender interactions in the classroom.

Some interesting take-aways:
  1. Dee finds that gender interactions between teachers and students have significant effects on these important educational outcomes.
  2. Assignment to a teacher of the opposite sex lowers student achievement by about 0.04 standard deviations.  
  3. Other results imply that just one year with a male English teacher would eliminate nearly a third of the gender gap in reading performance among 13 year olds… and would do so by improving the performance of boys and simultaneously harming that of girls. 
  4. Similarly, a year with a female teacher would close the gender gap in science achievement among 13 year olds by half and eliminate entirely the smaller achievement gap in mathematics.
  5. Boys were more likely to report that they did not look forward to a particular academic subject when it was taught by a female. 

But interesting... I'd like to see more research on the subject before jumping to conclusions.  However, I am willing to say that I actively support more men in elementary schools and more females in STEM positions.  It is important to have students see male and female role models (read teachers) in all positions.

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1 comment:

  1. Very interesting article - thanks for sharing!

    I think you make a good point at the end - I think it's more about the character and passion of the teacher to energize, excite, and impact a student rather than just their gender alone. Teachers are role models - we need to take our jobs seriously. And do it well :)

    Joy in the Journey


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