Topic 3 Impact of teachers’ gender bias

Following what was previously presented, it is really important to know how much teachers affect their students in many relevant aspects that will determine the way they perceive their school progress and their achievements.

For example, Matt Pinket draws our attention that it is dangerous to treat boys differently. Assuming that a boy does not like to read and loves sports and thus asking him to read a book on sports to meet his interests will result in narrowing his expectations.

We thus understand that one of the teachers’ most significant challenge is to lead students to leave their comfort zone.

According to Rigissa Megalokonomou’s research, teachers’ biases can have an impact on students’ motivation for attending classes or learning. These biases also affect other aspects such as “enrolling in tertiary education, and the quality of university and study program”. These effects are the same for male and female students.

She has also observed that teacher gender biases seem to have long-term impact on women, by influencing their career perspectives and income.

The 2002 Education Longitudinal Study (ELS:2022) found that “Teacher expectations were more predictive of college success than most major factors, including student motivation and student effort.”

According to the Graide Network study presented in 2018, the effects of gender bias in the classroom are complicated, and research shows that these biases have disadvantages for both boys and girls in different ways.

For boys, many of the challenges have to do with behaviour and self-regulation. For example, according to the authors of Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys, “boys are expelled from preschool almost five times more than girls, boys are more likely to drop out of school and less likely to do homework, and boys make up an decreasingly low number of college graduates”.

Educational research also reveals that teachers tend to interrupt girls more frequently than boys. Girls are not requested to demonstrate their ideas in front of the class as often as boys. The research also concluded that teachers are less likely to look directly at the girls while answering open-ended questions.

This inequality persists outside the classroom and after the school day and is also present in the way teachers grade students. Indeed, an education study conducted in Israel showed that gender bias also affects how teachers grade their students. After having asked classroom teachers and external teachers to correct the same maths assignments, they observed that the external teachers, who graded without knowing the student’s gender gave the girls higher grades than the internal teachers did.

As one commentator on the study pointed out: “it’s hard to imagine that these teachers actually have conscious animosity toward the girls in their classroom.” Their unconscious bias led them to treat their female students unfairly when it came to math and science—perhaps the same way their own teachers treated them.

All these research results indicate how teachers’ biases affect, directly and indirectly the students’ perception about school, their academic pathways and their achievements.