Topic 1 Introduction

Τhe education system plays an important dual role in reproducing gender inequality to the detriment of women. The school is a microcosm of patriarchal society, to which the sexist ideology adopted by children within their families is transferred. In addition, the school provides the context where the roles of the sexes become more tangible and more fixed. At the same time, however, the school is an institution which has the chance to shape the conditions for the promotion of gender equality at the political, economic and social level and to promote social change that affects all marginalised groups (Frosi, Kouimtzi & Papadimou, 2001).

Stanworth (1986, op. cit. in Frosi et al. 2001) points out that meritocracy is a myth in school education along with the perception that all children are given the same opportunities to develop their talents and abilities, regardless of their social class, gender, or race. On the contrary, the school leads girls and boys to traditional roles and choices according to their sex (Frosi et al., 2001) through the various tools it has at its disposal. These comprise the curricula that reflect the dominant male ideology, the school textbooks, the interaction within the classroom, the discourse that develops, the expectations and practices of teachers, the sports activities, the type of the tasks assigned to children, the role of women and men in the school community, and more.

The contribution of the feminist sociology of education is important in the analysis of the role of education in the relationship between the sexes, through the analysis of important topics, using feminist research as a main tool. Through a variety of methods, several different researchers sought to find a methodology that would help feminist research minimise control over research data, shift the focus from men to women’s positions and perspectives, and lead to social change and action for the benefit of women (Ropers-Huilman & Winters, 2011).

In this context, feminist sociology has focused mainly on educational inequality in relation to social stratification and the role of the state, the economy, and the family in modern education systems (Dillabough & Arnot, 2001). It also emphasised the role of teachers in relation to gender equality.

Teachers were seen as transmitters of dominant gender perceptions in the school community and at the same time those who can bring about change through education (Deligianni-Kouimtzi, 2008).

An important part of feminist research in recent years has been the study of gender identity, of boys as well as girls, together with the processes of subjectification in the extremely complex context of gender relations. Under this perspective, gender relations are considered to be in direct interaction with race and social class. Thus, through various feminist trends, the issues of gender and education were studied, based on a series of concerns about school performance which lead to significant life choices. The aim of feminist research in education has been the development of strategic interventions to promote equality in the classroom (Deligianni & Sakka, 2003). A summary of the issues raised by liberal, marxist, radical and post-modern feminism regarding education and the role of the school will be presented immediately below.