Gender Bias and Respecting Cultural Diversity Begins at School

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Table of Contents

  • Intro
  • Gender Bias
  • Students with Learning Disabilities
  • Removing Bias from the Classroom
  • Conclusion


Gender bias in the classroom still exists today it is when a student is responded to differently between a girl or a boy. It can cause many challenges in the classroom for the students. Students with special needs can also face many challenges in the classroom. Students with special needs can be students with intellectual and emotional challenges, including learning disability and emotional disturbance, as well as, gifted and talented students. The purpose of this paper is to identify how gender bias and students with learning disabilities affect students in the classroom and what educators can do to make the classroom a comfortable learning environment for all students.

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Gender Bias

Gender bias starts at a young age, girls are expected to play with the dolls and wear pink and boys are supposed to play with trucks and love sports. Kids will tease or bully other children for being different than what they think a typical gender role should be. These differences can be moved into the classroom children start school. Gender bias can affect students in at least three different ways, course selection, class participation, and career choice (Snowman & McCown, 2015, p. 140). Some examples of gender inequality is when girls and boys are seated or told to line up depending on gender. “Another example is when girls are praised for being neat, quiet, and calm, whereas boys are encouraged to think independently, be active and speak up” (Chapman, 2002). 'Girls in grades six and seven rate being popular and well-liked as more important than being perceived as competent or independent. Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to rank independence and competence as more important' (as cited in Chapman, 1992). Girls are taught at a young age to never be assertive; they are taught that it is more important to be popular and socialize that it is to speak up for themselves and what they believe in. Gender bias in education isn’t just about socializing; it can be in textbooks, teacher- student interactions, and lessons. I noticed when I was growing up that there were very few women in history to learn about and look up to. Our textbooks never incorporated women of history, we only learned about males. Many lessons are based solely around men and their accomplishments or tailored directly towards boys. When boys shout out answers and are impulsive in the classroom, they are often allowed to share their answer, whereas girls are expected to raise their hand because girls are supposed to be calmer and quieter. This can result in a loss of voice for girls in the classroom. A loss of voice is when a student just answers or speaks the way they think they are supposed to and says what they think others want to hear (as cited in Snowman & McCown, 2015, p. 141). They don’t get to be themselves and get to express their own thoughts and ideas on certain subjects. Boys are also more likely to receive praise and acknowledgment and referred to be tested for gifted. In school more boys took science and math classes than girls, and boys showed they had more confident in both math and science. In relation to that more boys grew up to have careers in math and science than girls (Snowman, McCown 2015, p. 138). As a teacher it is important to make sure each child is treated equally and fairly.

Students with Learning Disabilities

Most of the students that qualify as special education students have learning disabilities. A learning disability is a disorder in basic processes that lead to learning problems not due to any causes. Students with learning disabilities learning differently that those in general education. Students with learning disabilities can learn slower, have difficulty with perception, memory, and attention (Snowman, McCown 2015, p. 212). Many times, students are put in a classroom with students with normal intelligence and this can be quite difficult for students with learning disabilities. These types of students aren’t always accommodated in the classroom. With the most recent update to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2004 more students with special needs are accessing general education classrooms, rather than being solely restricted to self-contained classroom settings (Novak, Bartelheim 2012). Studies have shown that student’s views and judgments on students with learning disabilities are based on learned behavior from their mother. When student’s mothers make less observations and comments about students with learning disabilities, those children had more positive social interactions with the learning-disabled children (Novak, Bartelheim 2012). These types of judgments and behaviors can be brought into the classroom and have a negative affect on the learning environment. Older students can even negatively view children with learning disabilities. In classrooms with students that are not encouraged to have positive interactions by their teachers with students with learning disabilities, it can turn into a bullying situation or make children with disabilities feel isolated. Children with learning disabilities can also be misunderstood because they have poor developed social skills and can disturb the class with unaccepted behaviors, and this can turn into general education children rejecting them, and adding to their low self-esteem and poor academic performance(as cited in Snowman & McCown, 2015, p. 212). Many students with learning disabilities have trouble paying attention and acting impulsive, in a general education class, certain activities and objects in the classroom can cause distractions and they lose focus on what the teacher is explaining, or what page they’re are supposed to be on (Snowman & McCown, 2015, p. 213). All these issues cause problems for students with learning disabilities being put in an inclusive classroom with general education students. But luckily, there are steps that can be taken that can help these students excel in a general education class.

Removing Bias from the Classroom

There are many steps teachers can take to help general education students understand and socialize better their peers that have learning disabilities. Creating a cooperative learning environment in the classroom. Allowing the opportunity for general education students to socialize with special needs children it has been shown that they have more positive views and empathy for students with disabilities and more accepting and understanding and less likely to bully them. When a teacher has an inclusive class, they should make it inclusive for all students. The jigsaw technique in this type of inclusive classroom would work wonderfully. Making each student dependent on each other in order to succeed in that activity would give the students a chance to work with a variety of different learners.

Gender equality is the goal in the classroom; no child should ever feel like they are not equal to their peer. Some ideas on helping teachers achieve this would be for them to try to remove all learned gender-based stereotypes from their head and look at each child as their own unique individual. Start by using a reward system in the classroom that includes everyone equally. Incorporate math and science into music, art, history, and social studies. Talk about math and science built into everyday life. Introduce more women in history into the classroom, and gender equity in as much as possible. Don’t separate the children by gender for projects, lining up, and in groups. Maybe the school can send out an e-mail every year reminding teachers to be aware of gender stereotypes and bias, research shows that many teachers don’t even realize that they are being bias based on their learned stereotypes (Lamb, Liben 2007).


In conclusion, there are many obstacles for students to overcome, its hard enough trying to navigate life as a kid, and as teachers, its our job to make it a little easier to manage. If teachers can work on creating a caring, loving, nonbiased classroom for students to learn, it can have a positive impact on each student for the rest of their lives. Each child deserves to feel equal to their peers regardless of gender or learning capabilities. When I have my own classroom, and even when I am student teaching I will make sure I use the knowledge I obtained from this research paper to help create an equal, nonbiased environment for all of my students.

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