May 24, 2012
As the elected Chancellor of the City of New York, I strongly feel that it is our duty as educators to make education as fair, and equal as possible. With this in mind, I believe that we need to bring equal opportunity into our school system. To achieve this, it is necessary for New York to take on the many issues affecting the learning process: Gender Inequality. Gender Inequality has been affecting our schools from the early years possible, even before we had the support of the formal state supported schools. Additionally, gender inequality in our schools does not only affect our students, but the teachers as well. Student and teachers must be given the help they need in order for the gap in gender inequality to be closed. This can be done by implementing workshops that would help teachers ensure that equal opportunity is available to the students, and also teachers must be evaluated on their performance and not gender.
According to Tyack and Hansot (1997), gender inequality was seen even before the west began its formal state assisted education. There was some form of education available for both genders- it was the males who had a more structured education, and some parents would pay the teachers to tutor the girls after hours. Basically, the girls were "smuggled" into the classroom as termed by Tyack and Hansot (1997). In the early to mid 1600s, there were the famous Grammar schools that were only opened to the male students, (Tyack and Hansot, 1997). Although some girls were allowed into English grammar schools, they were barred from the Latin grammar schools, (Tyack and Hansot, 1997). There were of course the dame schools in the seventeenth century, but these schools were converted to the "women's schools" by the mid eighteenth century. The dame school provided a low degree of learning with some focus on reading and writing. The Dame school would eventually evolve into the primary level of education, (Tyack and Hansot, 1997).
In the early part of the nineteenth century, the formal subsidized school was emerging from the backdrop of the dame schools of the preceding century. This schooling was developing in the rural areas, and referred to as 'common schools.' Here there was an occurrence of co-education, but the level of education was moderately low, and was comparable to the elementary level, (Tyack and Hansot, 1997). This early endeavor into co-education provided some level of education where there was competition with males.
During the late 1800s, there were a number of male figures who were totally against females in education. In 1873, there was the popular “King Cannutes” which blatantly attacked the role of females in education. The authors of Sex in Education, Clarke and Hall, acknowledged that females were just as capable as men in educational achievement; however, when females learned to a high degree, it would essentially affect their physiology (Tyack and Hansot, 1997). Simply because there were two doctors who were publishing this document, it was taken under serious consideration. The population believed in this document and it discourages both participation of female teachers and students from learning (Tyack, and Hansot, 1997).
All teachers were not treated equally, the expectations were evenly distributed; in fact, it appeared that this was strictly a chauvinistic society where the female teachers had to adhere to whatever the expectations of their role in the classroom and society. Women were classified to be less cognitively mature and therefore they were not able to fully teach a higher level of education; this meant that during the year when males were not farming or working, a male teacher took over the education whereas during the times when the older students were working, a female teacher was in charge of teaching younger ones.
In Tyack’s The One Best System (1974), Tyack came up with an excellent point, where it was thought that women teachers were expected to be submissive to the male leaders in the schools. Tyack (1974) further discussed that New York Legislators thought that women are better suited for lower level of education, because female teachers could not attain a level of education that they would be able to handle in higher level classrooms. Additionally, Tyack (1974) came up the issue that married female teachers were going to be less likely to conform to the authority of the male authoritative figures in the school.
Another burning issue that Tyack (1974) explored up is the gigantic gap in levels of position, and the salary that were found between male and female teachers. Tyack showed that men were more likely to have the role of a principal in high schools, and the elementary schools would have the female teachers. There was no doubt that females were tremendously underpaid, as compared to what the male teachers were receiving. Tyack (1974) provided the salary for both male and female teachers from 1870 to 1920. Throughout this time, men were almost paid twice as much as females. The table below shows the difference in pay of male and female teachers from 1870 through 1920 at ten years intervals.
Female Pay in $
Male Pay in $
Data taken from Tyack’s The One Best System (1974), p.62.
To help solve the problems of gender inequality in New York Schools, I am proposing two recommendations that I strongly believe will be off great benefits. The first recommendation will be focusing on the student aspect of the problem. We as educators need to be steadfast in our behavior and outlook towards the students. That is, now more than ever, we must ensure that our female students are treated as equals with their male counterparts. To this end, the female students will be provided with equal opportunities: scholarships, materials, and access to extra-curricular activities such as sports, music, etc. Additionally, workshops will be developed to help teachers` better deal with the issue of gender inequality. These workshops will focus on empowering the female students, and incorporating strategies the teachers may use in encouraging equal participation from the students. All teachers will be required to partake in these workshops.
The other recommendations will focus on the teachers’ aspect of gender inequality. All teachers will be evaluated by an elected group to determine the teachers’ level of performance in the class, and the schools. Regardless of their gender, teachers' salaries, and positions will be determined by their evaluation. The City of New York will elect a panel of teachers, parents, and even students to help devise an adequate method of evaluating the teachers' level of performance.
The school system in the United States including New York City has encountered numerous problems that have undermined the system. One of these problems is gender inequality in our education system, where both students and teachers are affected. For this reason, we must unite and do whatever it takes to end gender inequality. Female students must be provided with equal opportunity, and materials. Teachers must also be evaluated by their performance and not by their gender. When these factors are addressed, the gap in gender inequality will be closed.
Tyack, David. The One Best System. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1974. Print.
Tyack, David, and Hansot, Elizabeth. Smuggling in the Girls": Colonial New England. Learning together: A History of Coeducation, 1997. Web.
Tyack, David, and Hansot, Elizabeth. King Canutes Attack: The Perils of Coeducation and
Women Teachers. Learning together: A History of Coeducation, 1997. Web.