movement has enabled great change throughout all aspects of the world. One in
particular change is the through education. The results of feminism have led
girls to improve their ability to achieve in school, compared to boys. Despite certain
female’s liberties being restricted in many parts of the world, they have
achieved immensely – which has caused a significant outcome of women being the
prime example of what the new generation should resemble. Nevertheless, women are still
constantly associated with their “two worlds: mothers as academics” (Daves,
Lubelska, Quinn, 1994, pg.29). There is somehow an overt conception that women
will amount to the expressive role: the full time-carer, mother. Education is
crucial to us all, as it is a platform that makes one into a person that
creates wonder in this confused world. Unfortunately, for oppressed groups in
society, there is “always implications for the distributions of power” (Len,
Walker, 1985, pg.111). There is a significant change still due to women of all
calibres. It is all a part of the work in progress which throughout this essay,
I’ll be exploring how the sociological approach of feminism has resulted in
educational change and is yet, still creating that change.
Feminism: making education
Feminism as an external
movement from educational has given it many changes from how it
used to be conducted. “Women’s traditions are directly related to the
male control of education” (Spender, 1982, pg.14). As evidence shows throughout
time, men have taken over all forms of systematic
instructions, including education
itself. Due to this, the freedom of women in education has been limited throughout
the years. Nonetheless, the movement of gender equality has played a part
for these men to lack control in how women are learning today. Education has
improved in the UK throughout the years, for example with the Comprehensive
Schooling Act in 1965. This was a major stepping stone for females as it
concluded in girls being allowed in a ‘one roof’ system school. They were seen
to have the ability to be as smart as a male when going into
setting/streaming, for example. In the midst of 1960s, the feminist
movement was taking its toll on different grounds. The movement included the
issue of the ‘traditional’ role of the woman: housewife and mother. Women all
over the world wanted to better themselves, it was time to “empower(ing)
ourselves” (Daves, Lubelska, Quinn, 1994, pg.101). These shared
thoughts of female empowerment lead younger generations to exceed their own
expectations. It was increasing their self-esteem and allowed them to think
beyond being a housewife.
A study conducted by a sociologist, Sue
Sharpe, compared the attitudes of girls in education between the years 1970s
and 1990s. During the 1970s, she saw that the girls were aspiring for love,
marriage and babies. They were driven by the influences around them, which
perceived these things as essential for a woman. This differed immensely during
the 1990s, “sexist images have been removed from learning materials”
(Webb, Westergaard, Trobe, Townend, 2015, pg. 55) – the
influences were taken away and the girls were now looking towards jobs and
careers, in mind that education had to be focal point in order to get there. The
feminist impact resulted in girls looking to do bigger and better.
“Positive role models” (Byfield, 2008, pg.85)
were commencing within the classroom, as well as outside – for example “rations
with higher proportions of women in parliament” (Murphy, 2003). The
Department of Education in 2013 statistics results showed that “in total 80 percent of the school workforce is female.” The
increase of women in educational platforms showed as an interest towards girls
also. They had immense respect towards the teachers and due to this, their
perceptions change once again as they began to improve, in comparison to boys
especially. This also played a role in changing girl’s ambitions also. Rather
than the perception of “motherhood is perceived as an ongoing
activity which begins … a woman’s life” (Spender, 1982, pg.85) – they now
believed if a female can be an independent figure and earn her own
living whilst of teaching the next generation, they also too can
be whatever they wanted.
Feminism has caused education to change
extremely. The idea of “girl power” (Ringrose, 2007) was and still is, reaching
its element, “In 70% of these regions, the girls beat boys in maths, reading,
science and literary subject.” (Turner, 2015). The idea that women are doing
better because of feminism is valuing the movement’s importance that is making
3 elements of feminism
mixture of the two-sociological approaches that include distress the inequality
in the world. These particular sociologists believe that education is helping
females stay oppressed, as it means capitalism works. “Unproblematised notions
of masculinity are embedded” (Reed, 2010, pg.101), there are still certain elements
that haven’t been touched upon. This includes the construction of what it’s
like to be ‘lady-like’. Unnoticeably, girls are taught through secondary
socialisation/in education, to be passive and timid. The idea of the
ideal student has been described with many adjectives as being ‘helpful’,
‘patient’ which link closely with the idea of being lady-like. Through primary
socialisation/in the family, girls are taught to have these traits in order to
create the perfect housewife. She must perform her role quietly and
attentively, as one would do in the classroom. Marxist-feminist believes that
this not only constructs girls to stay like this for the good of the classroom
but for later on in life. She is thus, practising to become the expressive role.
This allows capitalism to work well, the woman staying at home and not looking
to earn money, whereas the man is the only breadwinner in the household.
Feminism cannot strive from this because it goes unnoticed that girls are being
taught this and it is a form of their own benefit. Education has only changed
so much because of the idea that it still benefits towards creating workers for
capitalism in the future.
Liberal feminist’s concept of equality concludes
that through laws, policies and acts enforce ideal feminism in the world. “Encouraging
positive role models and overcoming sexist’s attitudes and stereotypes” (Webb,
Westergaard, Trobe, Towernend, 2015, pg.55). The idea that girls have been
doing better in school since the opportunity of Comprehensive Schooling 1965
Act has begun this movement for them. Laws that include differences in the
National Curriculum and exam boards have also resulted in these educational changes.
In the UK, coursework was introduced in 1988, a certain percentage of one’s
coursework, plus the exam, would result in what grade someone would get. The
introduction of coursework meant that students would have to sit down and do
their work, it was their responsibility to hand it in on time and in some
cases, find their own topic and research. This meant that girls were able to do
the act of ‘sitting down and doing work’ as it was socialised within them.
Figures from the National Archives Government website show that females
achieved 5% more 5 A*-C than males in 1988 once coursework was introduced. The
law inputted meant that female4s were progressing more than males, evidently
showing the change a notion can do. Other policies like Girls in Science and
Technology in the UK and Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology for
girls provided by the United Nations have also diverted us from the
stereotypical point of view that women only like and are good at the Arts and
literature. It has become a guidance for females to be intrigued by other
things, “equips them for the future” (Spender, 1982, pg.97).
Radical feminism takes on a view more
critical of the idea that ‘change has commenced’. “They emphasise the system
remains patriarchal and conveys the clear message that it’s a man’s world”
(Webb, Westergaard, Trobe, Towernend, 2015, pg.55). Their radicalised viewpoint
presents this with examples of sexual harassment of girls in schools done by a
male figure. This shows the male remains dominant figure, as he is able to take
control of any said situation because of his place as a man and as an educator.
In this case, “gender operates as … hierarchy” (Reay, 2010) – males still have
assertive roles which limit the changes to be conducted in education. Women are
in an inferior position that is being maintained – radical feminists believe
change is still due. An example of this change is with single-sex schools,
where girls are unaware and away from male control.
Feminism for everyone?
All feminists main
prospect is equality for the all the sexes. However, it has been neglected how feminism
has benefited boys in their education, along with girls from unfamiliar backgrounds. “Education
has become feminised” (BBC, 2006) because of this, boys lack in their
achievement. The lack of male teachers, “boys don’t write romance”; “teacher
has been under pressure in the United Kingdom to devise pedagogic strategies to
raise boy’s achievement” (Murphy, 2003), “no opportunity to
connect… with the curriculum (Byfield, 2008, pg.76) – these
realistic viewpoints could be a major reason about why feminism doesn’t work
for everyone. Boys are estranged from benefiting from feminism. The female’s
triumph is the male’s downfall and this doesn’t agree with the notion
of ‘equality for everyone’ that feminism pleads for.
A major issue that
needs to be tackled along sexism, is racism. Women of colour don’t
benefit from being in an education system that prides itself in its “ivory
towers” (Daves, Lubelska and Quinn, 1994, pg.46). Being a part
of two oppressed group, whilst being in a system that devalues you is a
struggle that still needs fighting for. It is a place that “prestigious
groups of wise, usually white, men” (Daves, Lubelska and Quinn, 1994,
pg.46) decide the future for women that have no remorse for. “Black
women must decide whether to become a part of the ivory towers”
(Daves, Lubelska and Quinn, 1994, pg.46) – it is a world where
one has to become accustomed to. Internal factors in education also play a role
with this statement, of becoming accustomed to a world of racism and sexism.
Some may say learning about strong female leaders such as Queen Victoria
has made a difference in the viewpoint of feminism. However, the
female roles that are normally portrayed in the classroom are white women.
Women of colour haven’t got a ‘martyr’ to look at, and if they do so
she is compelled to being based on a topic of slavery, for
Lower-class females also do not benefit.
They are distinguished by the idea that they have “adopted loud
feminine identities that often led them to be outspoken”
(Webb, Westergaard, Trobe, Towernend, 2015, pg.56). This
persona does not conform to the ideal female student, and therefore shows
why girls from working-class backgrounds aren’t able to progress.
They are also defeated by the dilemma of either
practising their “hyper-heterosexual feminine identity” (Webb, Westergaard, Trobe, Towernend,
2015, pg. 56) which means to perform towards their familial
ideals, which consist of leaving school early or “reject their
working-class identity and conform to middle class identity”
(Webb, Westergaard, Trobe, Towernend, 2015, pg. 56) which
schools follow to gain the greatest students.
These issues aren’t touched upon by feminists, but
very much ignored. They are reluctant to represent all forms of people who are
in need of equality just as much. This links closely to the argument of white
feminists who indeed, have privilege upon which help them thrive in small
fragments of feminism, not all.
It is clear that changes still need to be done in order for the social movement, feminism,
to result in educational changes. Feminism conquered just everything yet as it
still has to achieve full equality
in educational settings. Education in the Western
world is benefiting from the feminist movement I’ve previously mentioned. All
around the world, girls are still fighting for the right just to learn.
Feminism needs to conquer this in order for education to create the characters
in the world that will result in bigger changes.