By Drew Higgins, TTS36 Faculty Member
Today is International Women’s Day and the theme of IWD 2022 is #breakthebias. Despite progress in gender equity over the last several decades, gender bias persists in our world and in our educational system.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, educational researchers David and Myra Sadker observed gender dynamics in public and private school classrooms around the United States. They discovered that female students routinely received less quality and quantity of attention from teachers; curricular materials predominately highlighted cisgender male achievements and characters; and students were disciplined differently based on gender, with male students receiving more criticism and praise than their female counterparts.
These dynamics reinforce the gender binary and harm the educational outcomes of all students; unfortunately, they persist today, as the Sadkers detail in their book, Still Failing at Fairness. At The Traveling School, we understand how education that centers female-identifying and gender expansive students can combat such gender inequities and #breakthebias.
In a Traveling School learning environment, we can assure:
- Our teachers nurture all students’ voices and needs. With small cohorts and class sizes, we dedicate ourselves to how each student learns individually, and can assess students according to their own growth and progress.
- We create a climate where students feel confident speaking up and out. Compared to 58 percent at coed schools, 87 percent of girls’ school students feel their voices and opinions are respected. (Source: UCLA) We strive to build a space where our students’ voices, stories and identities are amplified and supported.
- Each Traveling School student has opportunities for leadership, from spearheading a class discussion to navigating their group in the backcountry. 93 percent of girls’ school graduates say they were offered greater leadership opportunities than co-educated peers. (Source: Goodman Research Group)
- Students are surrounded by role models and mentors, including equally inspired peers, accomplished educators and insightful guest lecturers. Role models allow young women and people to see what is possible; research shows how positive role models inspire success in those around them.
- Our curriculum, which we independently create, strives to highlight diverse narratives and perspectives. Every student deserves to learn through the perspectives of people who share their backgrounds and from those who hold different identities. We strive to develop curriculum that goes beyond including more female representation and centers the unheard and untold stories of many different communities and marginalized peoples.
Immersed in an inclusive community, Traveling School students gain tools and grow inspired to make change in their communities—and to #breakthebias wherever they go next.