Academic journal article Advancing Women in Leadership

Gender Identity and the Role of an Adult Educator in a Vocational Training Institute

Academic journal article Advancing Women in Leadership

Gender Identity and the Role of an Adult Educator in a Vocational Training Institute

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

Gender identity is one aspect of the social identity; it is the meaning women and men attach to their membership in the categories 'male' and 'female'. Identification with these categories can be associated with the salience and nature of comparative distinctions between men and women in a given setting. These distinctions and the value attached to them in turn affect their self-attributions, including stereotypic attributions (Alderfer, 1987; Ridgeway, 1988). The stereotypic attributions are closely linked to traditional social roles and power inequalities between women and men (Eagly, 1987). Gender-based stereotypes are usually perceived by many as a logical consequence of the situation. For instance, gender-neutral areas, such as the educational system and labour market, produce different results for women and for men, without any explicit gender-separating purpose being discernible (Westberg-Wohlgemuth, 1996).

Focusing on the researching area of this study, the adult technical education, which is closely related to the practical/technical qualifications and characteristics of an occupation in the labour market, numerous books and articles have been written about the gendered pattern of career salience and educational and occupational choices of the adult learners (Hackett, Esposito, & O'Halloran, 1989; Phillips & Imhoff, 1997), the perceived differences in male and female roles through vocational/career guidance services (Ellis, 1990), the fact that men's goals and aspirations exceed those of women (Leung, Conoley & Scheel, 1994; Mednick & Thomas, 1993), the gender gap as an obstacle to women seeking and obtaining educational leadership positions (Eakle, 1995), the discrimination against female adult educators due to the organizational structures and practices in education (Tallerico & Burstyn, 1996), as well as studies about the attention of adult educators to male learners more often than female in technical disciplines classes (Ayala, 1996; Deligianni, 1993; Kabounidi, 1990). Despite the broad scope of this literature, there is little scholarship about how male and female educators are aware of their pedagogic roles in a Vocational Training Institute in virtue of their gender, which is the researching goal of the present study. Throughout the literature on vocational training, there is remarkable absence of any debate about the role of the teacher/trainer in the promotion of vocational training, without gender diversity being included (Rogers, 2006). However, the above literature indirectly contributes to a conceptual framework within which the researching goal of the study may be shaped and developed.

The pivotal aim of the research refers to the fact that female adult educators in a Vocational Training Institute perceive and experience much more sexism than male educators on the grounds of their 'role'. By demarcating the pedagogical content of the term role, we mean that adult educators should encourage creativity, bold self-critique, familiarity with research theory and practices, genuine collaborative inquiry, and renewed interest in ongoing professional learning (Paterson & West-Burnham, 2005). The effective pedagogical role of an adult educator presupposes and fosters collaborative group learning, which emphasizes the process of listening to and respecting others, understanding alternative views, challenging and questioning others, negotiating ideas, and caring for group participants (Imel and Tisdell 1996). Besides, the most important conditions for school success are the qualities of relationships; that is, whether they create or fail to create a sense of safety and belonging that fosters collaborative inquiry (Bryk & Schneider, 2002). Thus, how could a sexist perception of a male adult educator in a Vocational Training Institute be compatible to the promotion of professional learning and collaborative inquiry in virtue of his pedagogical role? …

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