Approaches to Gender Equity in Science Education: Two Initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa Seen Through A Lens Derived From Feminist Critique of Science
University of Oslo, Norway
Gender equity in education has gained renewed attention after the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Millennium Declaration in the year 2000. This committed all member states to the target of eliminating gender disparity in all levels of education by 2015. Science, Mathematics and Technology Education constitute the areas within the educational system where the gender disparity is greatest in the majority of the poorest countries of the world.
This thesis explores strategies for increasing gender equity in science education. Using feminist critique of science as a theoretical point of departure, an analytical framework is constructed describing three different approaches to attain gender equity in science education. Each of these strategies is grounded in different understandings of the impact of sex/gender on pupils' engagement in science education.
The analytical framework is used in a study of how two major sub-Saharan African initiatives work towards increased gender equity in science education. The two initiatives that were studied are African Forum for Children’s Literacy in Science and Technology (AFCLIST) and Female Education in Mathematics and Science in Africa (FEMSA). Based on analysis of relevant documents, interviews of eighteen science educators representing eleven sub-Saharan countries and site visits to six countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the two initiatives' distinct strategies are described and analysed. Contradictory recommendations within the two initiatives are identified and discussed.
The analysis shows significant differences between the two initiatives both in their perceptions of how sex/gender impacts on pupils' engagement in science education and in their views on how gender equity in science education should best be achieved. The analysis suggests that it is mandatory that planning and implementation of initiatives and strategies to increase gender equity in science education is in accordance with their perception of the impact of sex/gender on pupils' engagement in science education.
Department of Teacher Education and School Development, Faculty of Education, University of Oslo, Norway.
Series of Dissertations submitted to the Faculty of Education, University of Oslo No38. Oslo: Unipub AS.