CHALLENGES TO THE PERSISTENCE OF GENDER ROLES AND STEREOTYPES IN THE CHOICE OF HIGHER EDUCATION STUDIES FROM A LONGITUDINAL APPROACH. THE ROLE OF FAMILIES AND TEACHERS
The unequal access of women to science and technology-related occupations and of men to care-giving and education-related careers remains to be a challenge for current societies. Several forms of sexism persist in the academic setting, such as considering women less competent in mathematics than their male counterparts or considering men lower than their female counterparts in languages. These stereotypes condition adolescent boys’ and girls’ academic and occupational choices, their performance and their evaluation of their own competences, as well as the importance they give to the different options for what they would like to do in the future.
Between 2011 and 2014, GenTIC carried out the research project EXPECTANCIES: “The gender gap in the studies of Science, Technology, Computing and Languages. Secondary students and teachers’ expectations and motivations”, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (Ref.: FEM2011-2014117). ESTEREO continues this previous research: EXPECTANCIES focused on the stage of compulsory secondary education, whereas ESTEREO studies academic sexism in the last courses of post-compulsory secondary education. Both projects use a longitudinal methodology to track the transformation of sexism and gender stereotypes over three consecutive years.
ESTEREO aims at conducting two complementary studies whose research objectives will contribute to promote some social changes and innovations within the academic setting minimizing and erasing existing forms of sexism in late secondary students, their teachers and parents. These forms of sexism have an impact on boys’ and girls’ ultimate academic and vocational choices. Equally, they contribute to the vocational segregation of men and women, discouraging the former to aspire for tasks linked to the feminine gender role and the latter to those tasks associated with the masculine gender role.
The first study pursues the analysis of post-compulsory education students’ perception of academic sexism, its relation with performance and other academic and occupational motivations throughout high school and the choice of to higher education studies. A follow-up of the ontogenesis of sexism and of their expectations will be carried-out thorough three years.
The second qualitative study analyses by means of focus groups parental and secondary teachers’ perceptions of the different types of academic sexism and its implications in the vocational decisions that boys and girls make. We expect to reach findings that provide recommendations addressing the challenges associated with the influence of sexism on study choices. Likewise, we attempt to inspire the design of academic and professional guidance programs with a gender perspective throughout secondary school years.
This research project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (reference number FEM2014-55096-R). Start date: 2015 – End date: 2018.
Principal investigator: Milagros Sáinz, director of Gender and ICT.