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Is it even possible to treat boys and girls in the same way? Gender bias in the 1990's classroom

14 June 1993


In the belief that gender bias still occurs in the 1990's classroom, this investigation was carried out to explore some of the ways of committing bias based on a student's gender. Additionally, some suggestions were made as to alternative equitable behaviors for teachers in today's classrooms. As stated in the title of this work, the central question in the researcher's mind was, "Is it even possible to treat students in the same way?"

The data included in this study was obtained from observing seven teachers in two schools in two western states. These schools are both located in rural communities. Williams Elementary (fictitious name) has a grant to inform teachers about gender bias, its effects and some ways to eliminate it from teaching behavior. Interviews were conducted with two teachers and a principal. The observation form developed for this study covered ten areas of concern when addressing the issue of gender bias. The interviews answered many of the specific questions regarding these issues, while the observation focused on whether or not teachers' behavior matched their philosophies on the matter.

From the interviews, it was learned that the teachers of Williams Elementary try hard at, and are quite successful at, having non-stereotyped or biased classes. However, the observations showed that some biased practices still exist.

Although there has been much ground gained concerning equity for women and girls, there remains more to do. Alternating calling on boys and girls will not achieve gender equity in the classroom. Objective yet simple-to-implement methods are needed for teachers to help insure equity in their classrooms.


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