Gender bias in the classroom from elementary to graduate school is the subject of this comprehensive examination by two professors of education at American University in Washington, D.C. As educators and parents, the Sadkers argue that ``sexism sabotages girls at school,'' using studies, statistics and anecdotal histories of female students to demonstrate how girls and women are cheated out of opportunities to excel academically and deprived of chances to build self-esteem. While the Sadkers emphasize the educational shortchanging of girls, they see boys paying a price also, particularly those who do not fit gender stereotyping. This important study is a timely resource, since gender equity is currently an issue in fair-testing concerns of such standardized tests as the SAT for college admissions and scholarships. (Feb.)
In a book that is being billed as a shocking expose, two education researchers try to discover why girls start out so far ahead in school and end up so far behind by college.
The author's have long been involved in training programs to combat sexism and sexual harassment. They pile evidence on top of evidence showing that even the best teachers spend more time actively teaching and interacting with the boys in their classrooms than they do the with the girls, that tests are biased, and that girls receive messages of their inferiority from all sorts of educational materials and popular culture as well. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This book lends itself to strong adjectives. It's "unbelievable" that so much bias still exists in educating girls and women, that educators contribute so much to it, and that it begins so early. The sexism the Sadkers describe is frightening in its power to erode female confidence and performance. The Sadkers chronicle studies of textbooks, methods, tests, and behavior that show how girls are called on less and admonished for behavior that boys are allowed. They are still encouraged to be passive, compliant, and frivolous; they may be ignored, insulted, and threatened by classmates and instructors. Incidents cited here by women, girls, fathers, mothers, and teachers argue for assertive, even aggressive vigilance to identify and stop behavior that says girls are less valuable than boys. The Sadkers offer some relief to teachers and parents by showing that awareness accomplishes much and by citing tested counter techniques to be used in the confrontation of sexism.
It is wrong to expect that if our son and daughter attend the same class and listen to the same lectures, they will receive equal educations? According to this book it is. Drawing on 20 years of research, Myra and David Sadker show that from elementary schools through graduate programs, the education that female students receive is inferior to that of their male classmates. This classroom bias is sometimes overt, with instructors openly demeaning the girls in their classes; most often, though, inequalities come out in subtle ways, with boys receiving more instructional attention and girls being complicated more often for appearances than for the intellectual content of their work. Failing At Fairness has and should cause a good deal of controversy; it is hard evidence that something in our schools is terribly amiss.