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EDUC1120 Teaching and Educational


Assignment 3 Making Connections

Teachers Roles and the Gender Factor

Kate Sheppard
Student Number: 2095068
Word Count:


Teachers have a vital role in counteracting disadvantage caused through

gender bias within the educational environment. The involving nature of
society requires teachers and teaching to constantly be aware of these

Incorporated into modern teacher training is the ability for

trainees to reflect on teaching and educational contexts. This essay will

describe teachers dynamic roles and their importance for their students
health, wellbeing, achievement and attitudes.

It will also describe the

diverse subject of gender within education, specifically the emerging issue

of under-achievement in boys and the role of the hidden curriculum. The
hidden curriculum is defined by Backhus (2002, p. 45) as consist[ing] of
learning that is informally and sometimes inadvertently acquired by

Connections were then made between teachers roles and

the gender factor. The effectiveness of female and male role models on
both boys and girls are discussed, and the existing prejudice held by
secondary students around computer science and mathematics as male
fields. The headings of teachers roles and gender are then connected to
my own growing understanding of teaching and educational contexts.

Teachers Roles
Teaching is a dynamic profession containing multiple roles.


communicators, reflective practitioners, researchers, role models and

ethical practitioners are some of the roles that are expected of teachers
outside their primary roles of teaching and caring (Bissaker, 2011).
Learning as a teacher is a large role which entails many dimensions.
Teachers should be able to learn from their students, such as, the
effectiveness of their teaching methods ("AQF Qualifications," 2011). A
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teacher must, also, be able to learn about the shifting values of and issues
within society ("AQF Qualifications," 2011).

In the Australian society,

some current topical issues are alcohol, sexual assault, bullying, gambling,
racism, violence and homelessness (Australian Government, 2011).

communicator is a necessary role with the most obvious aspect being the
ability to communicate understanding and learning onto the students in
their particular area, e.g. maths, literacy, art, etc. (Gibbs, 2006). Another
essential component of being an effective communicator is portraying
societys values to students to compliment other role models, such as
community, parenting and media (Bissaker, 2011). This attempt to impart
values will endeavour to help students become productive members of
society (Marsh, 2010; Steering Committee for the review of government
service provision, 2011; Teachers Registration Board of South Australia,

According to the Department of Education Employment and

Workplace Relations (2011) these values, for Australian schools, are care
and compassion doing your best fair go freedom honesty and
trustworthiness integrity respect responsibilities understanding,
tolerance and inclusion.
Education in South Australia is framed through the teachers registration
board code of ethics.

This code defines the three main attributes of

teachers to be integrity, respect and responsibility (Teachers Registration

Board of South Australia, 2011). The commonwealth government has set
up the framework to measure schools effectiveness in these areas
(Steering Committee for the review of government service provision,
2011). The key indicators for measuring these criteria are based on the
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Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals that centre around promoting

schools equity and excellence and an environment that promotes
students life success (Steering Committee for the review of government
service provision, 2011).
World-wide education systems are subject to the local culture within which
they operate has a significant impact on teachers roles (Backhus, 2002).
Within Australia, the roles of equity and access are particularly subject to
the influence of the broader community and are often displayed in the
classroom as a part of the hidden curriculum (Department of Education
Employment and Workplace Relations, 2011) . The hidden curriculum has
many points to consider and in Australia these include the gender factor
and promotion of science based topics over humanities (Backhus, 2002;
Wadham, Pudsey, & Boyd, 2007).

Gender Factor
Females and males are different and not just biologically but socially and
culturally too (Wadham, et al., 2007).

Wadham et al. (2007, p. 212)

recognised this and call us to observe nature where males are strong,
protective and resourceful and the mothers caring and protective of the

These natural characteristics are often reflected in societys

culture. Culturally it is accepted that a male is required to be masculine

and a female feminine to be a real man or a real woman and that boys
and girls need a role model of their respective sex to achieve this
(Wadham, et al., 2007).
Teaching in present society is generally mixed-sexed with even single-sex
schools having teachers of both genders (McKenzie, Kos, Walker, Hong, &
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Owen, 2008).

There is, however, a disparity in the diversity of sexes

between primary and secondary schools. McKenzie et al. (2008) reported

that 79% of primary school teachers were female and 20% male whereas
56% of secondary school teachers were female and 43% male. These low
numbers of male teachers have decreased by 9% over the last ten years
to the point where they now represent less than a third of all full-time
equivalent teachers (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).

It is also

important to note that 68% of all full-time equivalent male teachers in

Australia teach secondary compared to 32% in primary (Australian Bureau
of Statistics, 2011).

This contributes to the communicating of gender

roles as a part of the hidden curriculum.

Primary school teaching has a larger nurturing role than secondary due to
the age of the students (). Another component of the hidden curriculum
of the gender factor is that the majority of females enter arts, humanities
and social sciences (28.7%), education (19.2%), and health (16.9%)









administration, economics (26.1%), science (18.8%), and engineering,

surveying (14.9%) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1994). This feature of
the hidden curriculum define masculine as science and business and
feminine as nurturing and caring and reinforces which category each sex
is expected to fall into (Wadham, et al., 2007).
During the past thirty years there has been a rise in attention and concern
for female rights and equality, especially concerning education (Nelson,
2003). Since the mid-1990s, however, there has been a increasing focus
around the achievement of boys within schools due to feminisation
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(Wadham, et al., 2007).

Skelton (2002) identifies the shortage of male

teachers in primary schools as a major contributor to feminised schools. It

has also been identified that boys would benefit from more male role
models (Skelton, 2002). The claim that boys are not achieving is backed
up by the under-performance in key areas such as; school retention;
results in many Year 10, 11 and 12 subjects; admission into higher
education; measure of early literacy achievement; suspensions and
expulsions (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007; Educating boys - Issues
and information, 2003; House of Representatives & Standing Committee
on Education and Training, 2002). To combat this declining achievement,
there have been several suggestions. Chapman (2006) reported on the
Liberal Partys mens policy, as a part of the lead-up to the South
Australian election, which vowed to introduce boys-only state school
classes for Years 8, 9 and 10 in the core subjects of English, maths and

Educational Minister Jam Lomax-Smith denied to feasibility of

the oppositions policy, stating that Labours approach is to invest in more

teachers, smaller class sizes and support for the individual needs of each
child, irrespective of their gender (Chapman, 2006). Another opinion is
expressed by Catholic educators, in which positive discrimination towards
men would be used in an attempt to increase the number of primary
school male teachers (Doherty, 2004). Brother Kelvin Canavan wished to
obtain an exemption from the sex discrimination laws for five years so to
offer male-only scholarships which they hope would increase the number
of men studying teaching at university (Doherty, 2004). This proposition
was denied with the Human Rights Commission explaining that there was
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insufficient evidence surrounding adverse social or educational effects

due to gender imbalance and the reasons for the shortage of male
teachers to be many and complex (Doherty, 2004).

One of the many roles of a teacher is to be a role model.

Social and

cultural claims have been made that students will benefit from matching
teachers by gender especially in primary schools where 79% are females
(McKenzie, et al., 2008; Wadham, et al., 2007).

This is based on the

presumption that boys need a male role model to learn to become a real
man and girls need female role models to learn how to be a real woman
(Wadham, et al., 2007). This presumption has been the basis of attempts
to combat boys underachievement in schools, i.e. that this is due to a
lack of male role models (Chapman, 2006; Doherty, 2004). Carrington,
Tymms and Merrell (2008) have found, however, that when focussing on
the educational experiences of British 11 year-olds, this is not the case,
with no real difference being made on either sexs achievement or
attitude to school.
As previously explored, an essential communication needed to be made
by teachers is the values of their society.

Australia has its own set of

values and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace

Relations has defined which ones its has deemed necessary for Australian
teachers to teach and students to learn (Department of Education
Employment and Workplace Relations, 2011).

One of them, Fair Go:

Pursue and protect the common good where all people are treated fairly
for a just society, can be interpreted as equality amongst women and
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However, Moorman and Johnson (2003) found that there was a

biased surrounding views on the ability of each sex, held by each sex, in
the subjects of computing science and mathematics. Both girls and boys
held the belief that these subjects where a primarily male field, despite a
higher percentage of girls achieving As and Bs in computer science and
mathematics than boys (Moorman & Johnson, 2003).

The belief that

males are more naturally inclined was held by 55% of males and females
even those females who actually attained higher grade than their male
counterparts (Moorman & Johnson, 2003). Currently teachers seem to be
communicating this Fair Go value either incorrectly or ineffectively.
Despite the government and schools trying to communicate an antidiscriminatory









reconstruct how science is portrayed, viewed, and defined, both in school

and society (Brotman & Moore, 2008).

Teaching and Educational Contexts

Females teacher are under-represented in fields such as science and
mathematics. Through this topic I have become more aware of this and
have come to understand that I will, in all likelihood, be a role model for
young girls in such topics.

As a prospective Mathematics and Physics

teacher I have come to understand the need for female teachers in these
fields and need for female role models in these fields.

The need for

female role models is not restricted to being a role model for girls either.
There is a need for boys to have effective female role models in such
fields, as shown by Moorman and Johnson (2003) boys hold the belief that
females cannot achieve as high as boys. I am, however, aware that I am
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unlikely to be able to change this bias. Teachers are high contributors to

students core moral values but teachers must also remember that they
are not the only contributor (House of Representatives & Standing
Committee on Education and Training, 2002; McKenzie, et al., 2008;
Wadham, et al., 2007). I have come to understand that as a teacher my
influence will only go so far, that I will not be able to affect my students
beliefs around Science and Mathematics past a point.


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AQF Qualifications. (2011). Australian Qualifications Framework
Bissaker, K. (2011). EDUC1120 Teaching and Educational Contexts lecture notes.
Adelaide: Flinders University.
AQF Qualifications. (2011). Australian Qualifications Framework
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1994). Participation in Education: Gender
differences in higher education. 4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1994
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2007). Boys' Schooling. While girls generally
outperform boys in reading and writing, there is very little or no difference
in the proportions of boys and girls achieving numeracy benchmarks.
4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2006 Retrieved 01/06/2011, from
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2011). Schools Australia 2010.
Australian Government. (2011). Social Issues.
Retrieved 14/06/2011, from
Backhus, D. A. (2002). It's not just a theory : why teachers need to address the
nature of science and the 'hidden' curriculum. The Science Teacher, 69(4),
Brotman, J. S., & Moore, F. M. (2008). Girls and science: A review of four themes
in the science education literature. Journal of Research in Science
Teaching, 45(9), 971-1002.
Carrington, B., Tymms, P., & Merrell, C. (2008). Role models, school improvement
and the 'gender gap' - do men bring out the best in boys and woman the
best in girls? British Educational Research Journal, 34(3), 315-327.
Chapman, J. (2006). Boys only class - Libs school policy. The Adelaide Adversiter.
Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations. (2011). National
Framework: Nine Values for Australian Schooling. Retrieved 11/06/2011,
Doherty, L. (2004). Catholic schools aim for male bias. Sydney Morning Herald.
. Educating boys - Issues and information. (2003).
Gibbs, C. (2006). Teacher identity To be a Teacher (pp. 12-30). Auckland: Pearson
New Zealand.
House of Representatives, & Standing Committee on Education and Training.
(2002). Boys: Getting it right; Report on the inquiry into the education of
Marsh, C. (2010). Ethical and legal issues in teaching Becoming a Teacher (5th
ed., pp. 368-391). Sydney: Pearson Australia.
McKenzie, P., Kos, J., Walker, M., Hong, J., & Owen, S. (2008). Staff in Australia's
Schools 2007: Teaching and Learning and Leadership.
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Moorman, P., & Johnson, E. (2003). Still a stranger here: attitudes among
secondary school students towards computer science. ACM, 35(3).
Nelson, B. (2003). Why Boys' Education. In Department of Education Science and
Training (Ed.). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
Skelton, C. (2002). The 'feminisation of schooling' or 're-masculinising' primary
education. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 12(1), 77-96.
Steering Committee for the review of government service provision. (2011).
Report on Government Services 2011.
Teachers Registration Board of South Australia. (2011). Code of ethics for the
teaching profession in South Australia.
Retrieved 13/06/2011, from
Wadham, B., Pudsey, J., & Boyd, R. (2007). 'Boys will be boys and girls will be
girls': Gender and sexuality in school Culture and Education (pp. 212-246).
Sydney: Pearson Education Australia.

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