research on gender equality in education

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Gender Equality in Education

Girls are still more likely than boys to never set foot in a classroom, despite the tremendous progress made over the past 20 years. 

To help countries fulfill their promise to close the gender gap by 2030, the UIS disaggregates all indicators by sex to the extent possible, produces parity indices and develops new indicators to better reflect the equity and inclusion of girls and boys. For example, the UIS regularly collects data on the percentage of schools in sub-Saharan Africa with single-sex toilets or the presence of female teachers in primary and secondary schools around the world. The Institute also tracks female and male students in higher education by fields of study, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  

UIS data are like a map, showing the educational pathways of girls and boys from pre-primary to tertiary education. We can clearly see and compare the extent to which girls start primary school, for example, repeat grades, drop out or make the transition to secondary education. In addition, the UIS is developing new global measures of learning outcomes to better evaluate the reading and numeracy skills of girls and boys at key points in their education. 

These data empower countries and stakeholders – from advocacy groups to engaged citizens – to better target initiatives and policies, while benchmarking progress toward gender parity and equality in education.

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International research on gender equality in education

Published by  Communications

On 27th Apr 2021

research on gender equality in education

Dr Vander Viana (School of Education and Lifelong Learning) has secured more than £200k to lead an innovative research project examining the contribution of English language education to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Entitled ‘Gender-ing ELT: International perspectives, practices, policies’, the project takes place in 10 ODA countries (Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Morocco, Philippines, Ukraine and Vietnam), representing different geographical continents, ODA levels, language policies, and gender inclusion levels. Through the participation of key school stakeholders (pupils and parents, school leaders and teachers, university students and lecturers), the research aims to examine their perspectives and practices, raise their awareness of gender matters and foster their context-sensitive reflections on gender equality in ELT in these ODA countries.

Dr Viana, Associate Professor in Education, said: “I am delighted to be working on this project alongside a large group of experts in the 10 partner countries as well as in the UK, such as my co-PI Dr Aisling O’Boyle from Queen’s University Belfast.”

“Gender has been under-explored in English language education, and this is a unique chance to advance the boundaries of existing research, to trigger social change in a bottom-up, context-sensitive way and to support United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5.”

The research is funded by the British Council through their Widening Participation Research Grants. These grants are aimed at supporting research in ODA countries that improves the learning and teaching of the English language and that promotes economic development and welfare.

The project counts on the participation of researchers based in ODA countries and with the support of international research associations.

One of the institutional supporters is the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP). Dr. Marie Paz Morales, the Chairperson on NRCP Division I in charge of Governmental, Educational, and International Policies said: “Integrating the gender perspective in English Language Teaching (ELT) in the Philippines may lead to significant policies that inform gender mainstreaming in the fields of education, governance and international policies the country advocates. As the pillar of the National Research Council of the Philippines is to promote research in the fields of education, governance, and international policies, studies on ‘gender-ing’ may spark initiatives from other sections and sectors of the Council, and may strengthen and further promote policies on gender sensitivity across fields and disciplines.”

Non-academic stakeholders have also been directly involved in the project from its inception. One example is the Education and Culture Office of Banten Province in Indonesia, which is responsible for organizing and managing early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, and community education affairs and the management of culture.

Teddy Hendra Pratama, Head of Division for Secondary School Affairs, said: “I unequivocally support Gender-ing ELT and strongly encourage an in-depth study on this topic, particularly in Indonesia. The outcome of this research project will help the government to continuously improve gender equality, and I believe it will result on the fast development of human resources at Banten Province.” 

The project will run for 18 months – from April 2021 to September 2022 – and more information can be found on the project website , by following its Twitter account or by liking the project Facebook page . The team can also be contacted by e-mail at [email protected] .

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Irish Research Council

Gender equality in higher education: Ambitioning change

Posted: 18 October, 2018

Speakers, including Minister Mary Mitchell O' Connor, at the 'Gender Equality in Higher Education: Ambitioning Change' conference at the Royal Irish Academy.

A symposium , funded by the Irish Research Council, was hosted by Professor Judith Harford , Vice Principal for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Social Sciences and Law, University College Dublin on 10 October 2018. It brought together leading scholars, both nationally and internationally, in the fields of gender and leadership in higher education.

Stating that inequality was discrimination, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, Minister of State for Higher Education, said the lack of gender balance in top academic and leadership roles was no longer acceptable.

Speaking at the gender symposium, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said she will “not accept the slow progress that has been happening” in the sector.

“Gender-equality has been enshrined in our legislation for many, many years, and… [yet] even with this legislative backing, have we not yet achieved gender-equality? Women professors range from a low of 12% in one institution to a high of 31% in another. How can there be this level of disparity? Inequality is discrimination pure and simple… and this inequality cannot be attributed to the absence of skills, abilities or the aspirations of women.”

She added: “Higher education institutions have a responsibility to ensure that all of their staff have equality of opportunity. Responsibility rests with the leadership in our institutions to create successful organisational change.”

Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Dr Eavan O'Brien and Professor Judith Harford

Professor Judith Harford hosted the Irish Research Council-funded symposium, titled “Gender Equality in Higher Education: Ambitioning Change” , at the Royal Irish Academy, where she presented findings from her study of the perspectives of female professors currently working in Ireland. The  study  found while some progress had been made there, extensive barriers stilled existed for women in Irish academia.

“The emergence of a culture of new managerialism, which valorises individualism, and competition, discounting collaboration and care commitments, was viewed by the majority as privileging male work practices,” she said.

“It was also felt that the policy imperative to promote gender equality was being used by the dominant group to create token positions to legitimise the existing system.” 

Echoing these sentiments, Professor Pat O’Connor, from the University of Limerick, found that across all Irish universities men have a roughly one-in-five chance of accessing a professorship, with little variation between universities, while women have a one-in-fifteen chance depending on the institution.

Following the conference, Minister Richard Bruton launched Professor Harford’s latest book, Education for All? The Legacy of Free Post-Primary Education in Ireland . Published by Peter Lang, the work examines the origins and impact of free post-primary education in Ireland over the last 50 years. “ Professor Harford’s new book provides a unique insight into the legacy of free post-primary education in Ireland, the progress we have achieved and the work that still needs to be done,” said Minster Bruton.

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  1. Gender equality in education

    The Assembly acknowledges the significant contribution of the women's movement and feminist researchers and activists to human rights and gender equality in the educational field as well as in the political

  2. International research on gender equality in education

    “Gender has been under-explored in English language education, and this is a unique chance to advance the boundaries of existing research, to trigger social change in a bottom-up

  3. Gender equality in higher education: Ambitioning change

    Gender-equality has been enshrined in our legislation for many, many years, and… [yet] even with this legislative backing, have we not yet achieved gender-equality? Professor Judith Harford hosted the Irish Research Council-funded symposium