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Stop stereotypical gender discrimination in education, better feminize the system
Even a cursory look at our educational system would reveal that it is an agent of secondary socialization that helps to enforce patriarchy and at its best the role reversal in the name the name of gender equality. In Indian education system, women continue to be oppressed based on gender and class inequalities. All our educational reform interventions have failed and have neither resulted in improved quality of education nor have brought about gender and social equity.

According to the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, gender equality refers to the view that both men and women should receive equal treatment and opportunities in all spheres of life. In other words, there should be no discrimination on the basis of gender, unless there is a sound biological reason for different treatment for different sexes to make the system inclusive and accommodative. 

Thus, gender equality seeks to create equality in law, education, employment, democratic processes and economic activities for all by respecting diversity among individuals.

The politically correct notion is that women and men have the same rights to access resources, seek opportunities and enjoy protections. It does not mean that women and men be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike. It also means that individual differences in both men and women should be equality respected as two subsets of humanity. It is held that promoting gender equality is seen as an encouragement to greater economic prosperity and better development.

On the other hand, gender inequality, bias or discrimination pertains to unequal treatment, skewed notions or unanalyzed perceptions of individuals or human beings based on their sex; socially constructed gender roles; biologically differences through variations in chromosomes, brain structure, and hormones; or qualities acquired due to their past lived experiences.

Gender discrimination in education is applied to women in several stereotypical ways. First, education is viewed as an institution of social and cultural reproduction by dominant groups of the society. Another way is that the up-bringing practices and educational system discriminates towards females is through course-taking, especially in high school and onwards.

It has been found that females tend to take fewer advanced mathematical, technological and scientific courses. Today's gender gap in education often focuses on the advantage males have over females in science and math as perpetuation of sex-stereotypes. The research evidences suggest that when this type of masculinized stereotype threat was present, the females thought that they would do worse on achievement score and they did so.

Also, cultural norms of the community may be a factor causing sex discrimination in education. For example, often community and homes suggest that women should be mothers and be responsible for most of child rearing in the families rather than taking up jobs.

Often, a hidden curriculum in the form of ?old wine with a new label? adds to discrimination in the educational system that keeps on reinforcing skewed relations of gender, race and social class. Sex discrimination in classroom culture also results in girls being more passive, quiet and less assertive due to the effects of the hidden curriculum. This needs to be watched with periodic gender audits of various aspects of education and classroom process.


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Vibhav Kant Upadhyay
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