Gender is a huge determining factor in the lives of all individuals around the world. Many do not realize just how much of an impact it has on a person’s destiny. For parents, having a baby boy or girl determines how they dress the child and the toys that he or she is given to play with. As babies grow into young children and attend elementary school, they tend to segregate into groups that are made up of same-sex peers. Permanent elements of masculinity and femininity are solidified into a person’s personality by the time they reach young adulthood. From that point on, the gender role that has been adopted affects every aspect of life from the professional environment to academics and social interaction (Stabiner, 2004).
There are obvious and apparent differences in physicality that exist between males and females. Based on studies of the brain, research shows that female brains are stronger in the left hemisphere; the area that rules language. Consequently, they tend to test better for language ability and speech articulation. Men, on the other hand, have shown to be stronger in the right hemisphere, the side that governs spatial perception, making it easier for them to complete tasks that require moving objects, or aiming.
According to Title IX, the differences do not stop there. In Karen Stabiner’s article, Can Separate Ever Be Equal, “The Bush administration issued revised Title IX guidelines that will allow single-sex public schools and classes. Separate but equal seems to be staging a comeback, at least where gender is concerned” (2004).
In schools, testing of genders is difficult, because many tasks and tests do not account for the innate differences between females and males and one gender or the other is often penalized. An example of this is in standardized testing, males have proven to have higher scores on achievement tests while females do better on tests that require writing. As for math, geography, and science, males have traditionally tested higher than females. However, females tend to have an advantage when it comes to the requirements and social expectations of school; which include behaving and producing work that is clean and legible (Stabiner, 2004).
Men and women often feel trapped by the gender roles they have adopted in childhood. Over the past three decades or so, the shift in gender roles has been massive. While three decades seems like a long span of time, it is rather quick—relative to evolution and historical adaptation. Therefore, each gender is still trying to figure out and understand his or her roles. As they are coming to terms with the roles that are “assigned” to their gender, their views on these roles have been both positive and negative.
Policymakers responsible for education in not only the United States, but around the world, need to take a step back and examine the positives and negatives of these roles and determine what works best for each group in order to treat them separately to get equal results (Stabiner, 2004). Women are no longer expected to be the keepers of the home as they once were, but in reality, in most families, they still are. Men are generally open to the success of the women and the contributions that their wives are making to the household finances, but some are still finding it hard to share in their female counterpart’s successes. They have reported feeling that such success by women diminishes their own. In the cases when a child is ill, in most homes the woman leaves the office or calls in to work so that they are able to take care of them until they are well enough to go back to school.
The article discusses these gender roles relative to education. However, the roles mentioned above play an important part in determining the most appropriate public policy. For example, the household chores that are still considered “male” tasks are maintenance of the vehicles and yard work. These “male” tasks are very sporadic in nature and involve some aspect of leisure. The tasks considered “female” tasks within the home are repetitive in nature and need to be done on a daily basis. Women are held responsible for most of the grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, cooking, and childcare. The fact that men and women excel at different tasks reiterates the fact that they have different needs (Stabiner, 2004).
According to the studies detailed throughout the article, separate is in fact equal. In order for males and females to receive equal education, they need to be taught according to the differences based on gender and brain function. Like Stabiner says, “change is never easy, but unlike the status quo, it carries the possibility of hope” (2004).
Stabiner, Karen. (2004, March 14). Can Separate Ever Be Equal? Los Angeles Times.