Gender bias results in unequal treatment of men and women due to attitudes and expectations based upon actual or perceived gender differences.
Gender bias and its corollary, gender equity, describe the comparison of opportunities available to males and females. Gender bias is observed and discussed in societies worldwide. Parents and teachers are especially concerned with the unequal treatment of school-age boys and girls and the effect these differences have on future development. Economic development professionals have observed that, from subsistence to advanced economies, women are assigned different workloads, have different responsibilities for child and family welfare, and receive significantly different rewards, particularly in the realm of financial remuneration, for performance.
In the United States, the Education Amendments of 1972 were passed by the U.S. Congress. These changes included Title IX, introduced by Representative Edith Green of Oregon. Title IX requires that all educational institutions receiving federal funds must provide equal opportunities in all activities for males and females. Title IX applies to all schools, public and private, that receive money from the federal government, from kindergarten through post-secondary education.
A study published by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) near the end of the twentieth century revealed that enforcement of this law was not consistent. The AAUW report, “How Schools Shortchange Girls,” compiled results from hundreds of research studies and articles at every educational level. The report concluded that schools continued to perpetuate subtle discrimination against girls. Girls were stereotyped as studious and well-behaved, while more aggressive students, often boys, received more attention from their teachers.
Female students continue to be affected by gender bias in subtle but significant ways. Girls are traditionally encouraged to have lower expectations for success in math and science, are more likely to attribute academic success to luck than ability, and are more likely to equate academic failure with lack of ability, whereas boys are more likely to attribute failure to lack of effort. Boys are more likely than girls to challenge their teacher when they do not agree with an answer. Although girls earn higher grades than boys, boys typically outperform girls on standardized tests; boys with higher SAT scores are then more likely than girls with equal or better grades to be awarded academic scholarships.
Gender stereotypes defining appropriate activities and behavior for men and women are prevalent in every culture. In many cultures worldwide, female children continue to be prohibited from even attending schools.
See also Achievement; Sex differences ; Sex roles ; Stereotype .
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