From gender issues to gender statistics on schooling environment: illustrative examples
||Sources of data
|Are women underrepresented among teachers in secondary education?
||Teachers by sex and instruction level.
||School administrative records.
|Do all schools have separate toilets for girls and boys?
||Schools by availability of separate toilets for girls and boys.
||School administrative records.
|Are there any gender-specific reasons related to schooling environment for not attending school?
||Children not attending school for reasons such as lack of transportation, abuse by other students or teachers and lack of separate toilets for girls and boys.
||Household surveys, such as DHS and MICS.
- + Gender issues
- Teaching and learning environment itself may reinforce gender roles and exacerbate gender stereotypes (UNESCO, 2003; UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2010a). Textbooks and other teaching materials often contain gender-based biases, although there have been some changes towards more balanced representations of men and women. Still, in some textbooks, girls and women continue to be portrayed stereotypically or in a demeaning manner and women’s roles in and contributions to society misrepresented. In addition, teacher training rarely focuses on gender awareness and, as a consequence, teachers’ attitudes, gender-biased teacher-pupil interactions and use by teachers of gender-stereotypical language and imagery contribute to reinforcing gender stereotyping.
In some countries, women are underrepresented among teaching staff. The importance of female role models is widely accepted as a means of promoting greater gender equality. Girls look up to and emulate women as boys do men. In that regard, it is very important that there is a gender balance among the teaching staff at all levels of instruction and in various domains of teaching. Female participation in teaching at all levels has increased in most countries (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011). However, in countries where overall enrolment levels are lowest and gender disparities highest, women tend to be underrepresented, even at the primary level of education. At higher levels of education, female teachers are underrepresented in many countries; they are also less likely than their male counterparts to teach subjects traditionally considered “male”, such as mathematics or physics (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011; United Nations, 2010).
Long distances to school and safety and privacy concerns may keep girls out of school. The need to travel long distances to school has a negative impact on school attendance for both sexes, but distance is a significant obstacle for girls, especially at the lower secondary level (UNESCO, 2012). In some cases where single sex schooling is the norm, only local schools for boys may be available. Other factors such as lack of separate toilets for girls and boys and potential threats from physical and sexual abuse by other students or teachers also keep girls out of school.
- + Data needed
- Data needed to analyse schooling environment from a gender perspective are:
(a) Teachers by sex and instruction level;
(b) Schools by availability of separate toilets for girls and boys;
(c) Children not attending school for reasons such as lack of transportation, abuse by other students or teachers and lack of separate toilets for girls and boys, by type of reason. Additional breakdowns that would account for disparities in infrastructure, such as urban/rural areas or geographical areas, should be considered.
Qualitative information on gender biases in curricular content can be used as background information when analysing statistics related to educational participation and schooling environment.
- + Sources of data
- School administrative records, usually compiled by ministries of education, can provide information on number of teachers by sex and instruction level and, sometimes, on subject being taught. They can also provide information on the availability of separate toilets for girls and boys.
Household surveys, such as DHS and MICS, can be used to collect information on reasons for not attending school or for leaving school early, along with other information on individual and household demographic and economic characteristics.
Qualitative studies on curricular content can show the extent to which gender biases are incorporated in school manuals. Such information is usually a result of research studies produced outside the national statistical offices.
- + Conceptual and measurement issues
- Not all aspects of schooling environment with gender-specific impact can be easily measured. Statistics on sex-distribution of teachers are usually available and many countries have experience in collecting information on reasons for not attending school. However, aspects such as gender awareness of teachers, gender-sensitive teaching or even gender-responsive textbooks are more difficult to capture and require more in-depth qualitative analysis. Such qualitative studies are often conducted by research groups that are independent from the national statistical offices, sometimes at the request of or in collaboration with ministries of education.