Preservice, secondary social studies teachers' perceptions of gender equity

Date of Completion

January 2009


Education, Teacher Training|Education, Social Sciences|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




This study examines the perceptions of preservice social studies teachers in regards to gender equity. Research on gender equity in the field of social studies education has stalled in recent years (Hahn, Bernard-Powers, Crocco, & Woyshner, 2007), while existing literature often hinges on the assumption that teachers recognize gender equity as a relevant issue and are willing to initiate remedies to inequities in their classrooms' structures and content. This is an interesting assumption given the fact that young, American educators have been raised during an era in which gender equity is largely assumed to have been achieved, despite the fact that a significant gender gap still exists (Baumgardner & Richards, 2000; Hahn et al., 2007). ^ Specifically, this study asked the following questions: How do pre-service secondary, social studies teachers perceive gender equity? How have these perceptions been informed by the participants' individual life experiences? ^ Poststructural feminism provides the theoretical framework for this inquiry. These theories assert that social structures, such as the patriarchy, have developed over time and may be deconstructed once they are made overt (St. Pierre, 2000). This framework provides a strong theoretical foundation for the study. ^ Basic research, focused around Seidman's (2006) three-round interviewing method, is the dominant methodology. The participant sample consists of six preservice, secondary social studies teachers (three women, three men) about to assume full-time teaching positions. Data were collected in the spring and summer of 2008. Findings suggest that the participants do not perceive gender and/or issues of gender equity to be particularly relevant to their personal or professional lives; however, all of the participants acknowledged influences of gender in the social studies classroom and in their professional practice. The existence of gender bias in contemporary American society was also noted. Possibilities for enhancing preservice teachers' gender consciousness are discussed, as well as implications of this research for social studies teacher educators. ^