Discrimination between Boys and Girls in Educational Environments

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Updated: Aug 25, 2023
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A young woman nervously opened her test packet. She took a deep breath and put her pen on the paper. It was her fourth attempt at passing the entrance exam for Tokyo Medical University. Even though her self-confidence deflated a little every time she was denied from that school, she studied for hours. Days. Weeks. Months. All of this worked until she could take the test again because it had been her dream to become a doctor since she was a little girl.

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Challenging Gender Norms for Education

She took the test even though her parents told her that she could never become a doctor and that she had to be a proper housewife. As she bubbled her answer to the last question, she couldn’t help but worry that she would never pass. Little did she know, she had passed the exam; in fact, she had passed the exam every other time that she attempted it, but she wouldn’t ever be allowed into the school.

In October 2018, Tokyo Medical University was caught rigging tests so they could limit the number of female students. They also were found to boost test scores of males to decrease the number of females enrolled from forty percent to thirty percent. Many young women were unfairly disallowed into medical school because of rigged test scores (Romo). Discrimination based on gender is a commonly overlooked problem in classrooms. All over the planet, girls are told that the world belongs to men.

Unveiling Subconscious Stereotypes in Education

Take Barbara Barres, for instance: when she was in college at MIT, her professor assigned a particularly difficult math problem and wished the class luck. Barbara set her mind to focus and set to work. Sometime later, she came to a solution- she had solved it! She jubilantly brought it over to the professor to be checked. The professor looked it over for a bit and then frowned before saying, “Your boyfriend must have solved this for you” (Barres).

Barbara’s story is one of many. According to a survey from Independent Co, “57 percent of teachers admitted to having made subconscious stereotypes about girls and boys in relation to sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects” (Pells).

Florida State University teacher-in-training Brittany Anderson wanted to see if she was biased toward her students, so she videotaped herself teaching her classes. After extensive examination of the footage, it became evident that she interacted with her boy and girl students differently. She “smiled at the boys when she talked to them, and she asked fewer leading questions with her boy students” (Dwyer). Additionally, she spent more time with her male students. She also was more likely to overlook negative behavior with the girls.

Challenges in Equal Representation in STEM

The results were noteworthy, especially because she was teaching a science class. “By giving more attention to the boys, she was playing a subtle role in the large, society-wide diversity problem in STEM fields” (Dwyer). She was doing this even though she herself was a woman interested in graduate science education programs.

To make matters worse, in some communities, education isn’t even an option for girls because girls are not considered deserving of an education. Take this story for example: in Pakistan, where Malala Yousafzai lived, education for girls was banned by the Taliban-an organization that took over her community because it would make women hold too much power.

A Tragic Encounter for Women’s Right to Learn

She secretly continued going to school and advocating for women’s rights to education, though.

On October 9th, 2012, Malala was sitting on a school bus, chatting with her friends just like any other school day. Suddenly, the bus stopped. A menacing-looking man stepped onto the bus shouting, “Who is Malala?” (Yousafzai). He had a gun in his arms. No one dared to move, even though on the inside, they were shaking with fear. Then, crack, crack, crack.

Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban because she went to school, and women were not entitled to an education where she lived. But women need to be treated as if they are equals to men.

Student Insights: Challenging Stereotypes

To better understand gender bias, this reporter talked to multiple students from Colonial Middle School. Kate Edwards says, “Although it doesn’t seem like it is done intentionally, it often seems like teachers give less credit to girls when they accomplish something great as if it is only possible for boys to perform well.” She also went on to describe her anguish at how the school’s only good soccer field is given to the boys’ teams and that the boys get top priority on all the good equipment while the girls get the leftovers.

At this point, you might be wondering if there are steps that you can take to help fix this problem concerning gender bias at school. Fortunately, it is a fixable obstacle. If everyone in this world made an effort to stop stereotyping and to view men and women as equals, it would be a massive improvement.

Works Cited

  1. Romo, V. (2018, August 2). Tokyo Medical University Admits to Discriminating Against Female Applicants. NPR.
  2. Barres, B. A. (2006). Does Gender Matter? Nature, 442(7099), 133–136.
  3. Pells, R. (2016, January 26). Teachers’ Unconscious Bias Is Holding Girls Back in Science Subjects. Independent.
  4. Dwyer, C. (2019, May 7). A Teacher’s Gender Can Affect How Students Learn, Studies Say. NPR.
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Discrimination Between Boys and Girls in Educational Environments. (2023, Jun 19). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/discrimination-between-boys-and-girls-in-educational-environments/