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Science, mathematics and technology education and women's rights
One of the banes of the educational practices and structures of the subject matters of various scientific disciplines is that they make both knowledge and learners fragmented.

The methods and structures of science and social rearing of children and technology instruction have drawn a lot of flak from well-meaning educators, social scientists and feminists.

Davies says that the male children receive more attention since they are noisier and more demanding. Often misdeeds of boys are ignored by using the phrases like 'boys will be boys', thereby, providing a social acceptance of boys as 'aggressive', 'competitive' and hence 'superior' to girls. Of course, boys and girls, men and women are different - not superior or inferior - just different.

According to Okeke, it needs to be understood that initial experiences mould an individual's values, aspirations, emotions and interests and attitudes on the basis of what is offered by parents and other members of the family. And, these are subtly and unconsciously transferred to their children. Very often, the early childhood activities among children are made sex-differentiated.

Boys are given the mechanical toys, construction and building kits, motors, cars, guns so that they can engage themselves in combats aggression and competition. On the other hand, girls are given baby dolls, kitchen sets, sewing kits and non-mechanical toys so that they could be docile, compliant and caring. Playing with toys reinforces the sex-differentiated activities. And, it is the beginning of gender inequity leading to the first unconscious assault on the human rights.

Schools too encourage competition and sex-stereotyping, of science, technology and mathematics. The instructional practices of delivering lectures and presentations of science and mathematics in abstract ways continues, despite the research which holds that as a group of human beings, both boys and girls have equal cognitive potentials that can be fostered through peer-group learning exposures.

The way science and mathematics knowledge is structured and delivered in early schooling, it has a gender bias. A study of 19 countries by Comber and Keeves revealed that there was a significantly better performance of boys over girls in science, mathematics and technology.

 There are also school-based experiments drawing stregth from the feminist pedagogy in which science and mathematics teaching has been done in an emotionally charged learning environment based upon the techniques of collaborative and cooperative learning (non-competitive and supportive learning practices). These experiments have shown that girls too can perform equally well in science, mathematics and technology if the curricular practices are feminized.

Staberg believes that social construction of science, technology and mathematics (STM) is masculine. The under-representation of women in science and technology is due to masculinization of these subjects. In fact, girls and women reject science and technology studies because of the ways it is presented. The very delivery system of STM instruction leads to gendering of the subjects.

This gender inequity in science and technology is a subtle assault on women's rights. The classroom instruction must incorporate cooperative and collaborative learning practices to make STM education gender equitable.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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