Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Issues and Perspectives on Gender in Physical Education

Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Issues and Perspectives on Gender in Physical Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

The passage of Title IX in 1972 in the United States marked the initiation of research agendas, development of curricular programs, creation of pedagogy, and development of environments that address the needs of both women and men equally in educational settings. The purpose of this research was to determine how gender has been studied in extant literature in physical education. In particular, the intent of this research examination was to analyze the extent to which the concept of gender has been addressed in mainstream United States-based (US-based) journals in physical education. The liberal feministic theory guided this research investigation. Data collection involved the selection of five research, theory, and practice-based journals in physical education. Constant comparison method was used to analysis the data for the purpose of determining the themes that emerged from the literature (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984). The findings of the study revealed several perspectives related to gender in physical educati on. Three major themes emerged from examining the literature and they include program-centered, participation-based, and workplace-connected perspectives as related to occurrences in physical education environments.

Introduction

Gender has been found to influence students' learning and behavior in educational institutions. As Carnoy and Levin (1985) have pointed out, it is through the public education system in the United States that the wider society's social class, gender, and race conflicts are reflected. In essence, the public school system does not exist in isolation from society at large (Grant, 1984); the two are interrelated in that students bring their ascribed characteristics (for example, gender) and actualize them in the gymnasium environments. In the physical education literature, gender has been understood to mean social-cultural differences between women and men (Chepyator-Thomson & Ennis, 1997). A more definitive explanation for the term gender has been provided by Whitting (1979) who states that gender "is one's prescribed status based on behaviors unrelated to reproduction, but which are, nevertheless, evaluated within a given society as being more appropriate for members of one sex than another (p. 22). Gender, as a culturally laden term, may also be understood as an ever-changing concept with variations within and between ethnic groups in the United States and elsewhere in the world. A case in point is the emergent definition of gender that takes into consideration personal identity and pride as well as community undertakings related to gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals (Orenstein, 1994).

The passage of Title IX in 1972 in the United States brought into the forefront of education discourse on gender. Indeed, the enactment of this gender-equity law spear-marked the initiation of research agendas, development of curricular programs, creation of pedagogy, and development of environments that address the needs of both women and men equally in educational settings. The purpose of this research was to determine how gender has been studied in extant literature in physical education. In particular, the intent of this research examination was to analyze the extent to which the concept of gender has been addressed in mainstream United States-based (US-based) journals in physical education.

Theoretical Perspective

Scholars have considered feminism as embracing both theory and practice (Kelly, Burton, & Regan, (1995) and is "premised on the recognition that gender is a phenomenon which helps to shape society" (Kenway & Modra, 1992, p. 139). Feminist scholars contend that girls and women have not received equal benefits in society's institutions and as such, feminism must serve as the primary lens through which the world can be deconstructed and understood (Kenway & Modra, 1992). A feminist theoretical perspective was used as a guide to the examination of gender-related literary works in physical education. …

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