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Curriculum resides in relationship with the concept of gender in complex and multifaceted ways. It explores the relationship between genders and demands that we look beyond gender as ‘sex-group differences’ to a deeper understanding of this notion as a cultural artefact.
As such, the study becomes about more nuanced and complex understandings of boys and of girls and how gender affects young people’s identities as learners, as consumers of knowledge and skills, as well as differentially mediating their learning and ultimately their attainment.
The curriculum is the strongest tool to transmit and transform the culture, values and beliefs of society to the learner. Since every society has its gender belief system and gender stereotypes i.e. the prevailing images of what men and women are supposed to be like, the same is reflected and portrayed in the curriculum. When children enter the school environment, the images of male and female portrayed in books crystallise their concept about gender and consequently; their own self-image, their behaviour, their aspirations and their expectations. Yet women are often restricted to softer and theoretical subjects such as social sciences, literature etc. whereas males are pressurized into strictly sticking to harder and core courses such as natural sciences.
If any change in the gender stereotypes is planned, serious and concerted efforts are required, firstly to analyse the learning material and secondly, to present those desired modified images. The progressive growth of a nation happens when the nation utilises the potential of men and women equally. However, unfortunately, the deep-rooted patriarchal convictions and traditional stereotypes predefine their roles in society, restrict their freedom and set limits to individuals' career expectations. In a school, gender bias is cultivated through micro aspects such as the textbooks that are introduced among several other things. The hidden curriculum of schools also plays a key role in this bias.
As such if one may call gendered curriculum a consequence of cultural beliefs and norms it would not be wrong.
It is the culture which needs to involve on a deep level and act as the enabling force to eliminate the prevailing gender bias from the curriculum and in extension the education system.
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