Gender Inequality Research

Gender equality is a broad topic with many different angles that can be examined. For my part in
this project I chose to research the changing perspective on gender inequalities in schools. I
wanted to find out what people really felt about the fairness of their education, and whether they
really felt they had been shortchanged in the learning process because of their sex. My results
were generally what I had expected to find, though there were a few interesting findings along the
way. I used an article from Education Week entitled, “The Silent Gender Gap”, An empirical
research project conducted by Molly Weinburgh of Georgia State University, and I conducted my
own research by using surveys and interviewing people about what they remember from their days
in the public schools.
I wanted to answer the question as to whether or not gender really played a role in the
equality of people’s education. I expected to find that the further back through time I looked, the
more evidence I would find of there being a general sentiment toward the belief that males were
favored in the classroom. This favoritism I expected to be greater and have a larger impact the
further back through time I went with my interviews. However, I expected that in more recent
times the pendulum of educational inequalities would have swung hard the other way, giving the
females a clear advantage. In the end I was right, to an extent.
I conducted interviews with or received surveys back from forty-eight people ranging in
age, background, and geographic region of where they attended high school. Six of these people
graduated high school between 1945 and 1955, twenty-four graduated between 1968 and 1979,
and the remaining eighteen people have recently graduated since 1995. They represent three
generations education in the public schools. When asked how they felt overall about the equality
of their education based on gender, only two people responded that they felt there had not been
fair treatment between the sexes, these two will be discussed in-depth later. Every respondent
said that they had not changed the beliefs they held during school. However, the inequalities
became evident in later questions that were designed to bring out impressions about certain
situations and asked for additional comments. Of the twenty-four respondents graduating from
1968 to 1979, twenty-two claimed overall equality in their education, of these, nine indicated
some minor tendencies toward gender biased policies in teachers’ classrooms. All but one of
these nine said the males had received some form of favoritism regardless of their own gender.
The recent graduate group results showed opposite results. Of the eighteen people who
graduated since 1995, all claimed overall equality (a sign of progress), however all but two
claimed that the girls were given advantages over the males (a sign of too much progress). The
two who did not claim female benefits felt their education was equal. The interesting age group
was the elders. They were hesitant to respond to my questions. After great amount of reflection,
there was an agreement that men were given a better opportunity for success. These people
struggled to decide not because they could not remember, but because they never gave gender
inequality too much thought. Some responses to the questions designed to inspire thought and
sentiments were good examples of the overall feeling on gender inequalities. For example,
“Studies today seem to draw our focus to minor issues (mountains out of mole hills)” and
“...gender was the inequality of least concern back when I was in school.” As for the two who
did not feel there overall educational experience was fair, both graduated in 1976, both were
female, but one felt the males got the clear advantage, the other felt the females won the war for
favoritism. “The Silent Gender Gap,” offers the best explanation for this conflict of opinions.
The Education Week article makes the claim that when looking at African-American students the
gender gap actually favored the females as early as 1970. The women who said there schooling
was unfairly tilted toward males was from the predominantly white Central Pennsylvania region,
while the lady saying girls had the upper hand came from a school in Maryland which had an equal
if not greater number of African-American students, a possible explanation for the differing views
from the same time period.
When looking at the results, we see that the hypothesis was overall correct. The trend has
been for the girls to be treated progressively better while the