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Masculinities / Femininities in Education

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In this seminar the focus is on masculinities / femininities in education. Based on research in secondary schools in Flanders, we discuss the impact of the sexual identity and gender identity of students on their school careers and experiences. Results from survey research among secondary school students in Flanders showed that sense of school belonging, school motivation and school performance did not significantly differ between heterosexual and non-heterosexual boys, but they did differ between heterosexual and non-heterosexual girls. One of the possible explanations for these gender differences among sexual minority students is the link between sexual identity and gender identity. It is suggested that non-heterosexual girls might show less gender specific school attitudes or fit the typical “female student role” less well than heterosexual girls. In a follow-up study, we delve deeper into the impact of gender identity on educational processes. We do not limit our research to LGB students, but broaden our scope to all 7th grade students from a representative sample of Flemish schools. This way, we can not only check whether the remarkable findings from the first study hold for non-LGB students, but we can also transcend the gender dichotomy that has pervaded educational research for so long. Thus, instead of focusing on differences between boys and girls and overlooking underachieving girls and high achieving boys, we investigate mechanisms that have an impact on both boys and girls. To do this, we employ the concept of gender identity which refers to the extent to which someone feels to be ‘masculine’ of ‘feminine’. This way, we can investigate quantitatively whether rather masculine adolescents differ from rather feminine adolescents, and whether gender-atypical adolescents differ from gender-typical adolescents on various educational processes.

This talk is part of the Centre for Commonwealth Education (CCE) series.

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