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Intercultural Education ISSN: 1467-5986 (Print) 1469-8439 (Online) Journal homepage: <a href=http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ceji20 He, she, it: gender bias in teacher–student interaction at university Marija Bartulović , Barbara Kušević & Ana Širanović To cite this article: Marija Bartulović , Barbara Kušević & Ana Širanović (2012) He, she, it: gender bias in teacher–student interaction at university, Intercultural Education, 23:2, 147-159 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2012.686237 Published online: 22 Jun 2012. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 205 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=ceji20 Download by: [Zagreb University] Date: 12 January 2016, At: 09:45 " id="pdf-obj-0-2" src="pdf-obj-0-2.jpg">

Intercultural Education

Intercultural Education ISSN: 1467-5986 (Print) 1469-8439 (Online) Journal homepage: <a href=http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ceji20 He, she, it: gender bias in teacher–student interaction at university Marija Bartulović , Barbara Kušević & Ana Širanović To cite this article: Marija Bartulović , Barbara Kušević & Ana Širanović (2012) He, she, it: gender bias in teacher–student interaction at university, Intercultural Education, 23:2, 147-159 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2012.686237 Published online: 22 Jun 2012. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 205 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=ceji20 Download by: [Zagreb University] Date: 12 January 2016, At: 09:45 " id="pdf-obj-0-6" src="pdf-obj-0-6.jpg">

ISSN: 1467-5986 (Print) 1469-8439 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ceji20

He, she, it: gender bias in teacher–student interaction at university

Marija Bartulović , Barbara Kušević & Ana Širanović

To cite this article: Marija Bartulović , Barbara Kušević & Ana Širanović (2012) He, she, it:

gender bias in teacher–student interaction at university, Intercultural Education, 23:2, 147-159

  • Published online: 22 Jun 2012.

Intercultural Education ISSN: 1467-5986 (Print) 1469-8439 (Online) Journal homepage: <a href=http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ceji20 He, she, it: gender bias in teacher–student interaction at university Marija Bartulović , Barbara Kušević & Ana Širanović To cite this article: Marija Bartulović , Barbara Kušević & Ana Širanović (2012) He, she, it: gender bias in teacher–student interaction at university, Intercultural Education, 23:2, 147-159 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2012.686237 Published online: 22 Jun 2012. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 205 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=ceji20 Download by: [Zagreb University] Date: 12 January 2016, At: 09:45 " id="pdf-obj-0-32" src="pdf-obj-0-32.jpg">
  • Article views: 205

Intercultural Education ISSN: 1467-5986 (Print) 1469-8439 (Online) Journal homepage: <a href=http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ceji20 He, she, it: gender bias in teacher–student interaction at university Marija Bartulović , Barbara Kušević & Ana Širanović To cite this article: Marija Bartulović , Barbara Kušević & Ana Širanović (2012) He, she, it: gender bias in teacher–student interaction at university, Intercultural Education, 23:2, 147-159 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2012.686237 Published online: 22 Jun 2012. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 205 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=ceji20 Download by: [Zagreb University] Date: 12 January 2016, At: 09:45 " id="pdf-obj-0-43" src="pdf-obj-0-43.jpg">

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Intercultural Education Vol. 23, No. 2, April 2012, 147159

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He, she, it: gender bias in teacherstudent interaction at university

Marija Bartulović*, Barbara Kušević and Ana Širanović

Department of Pedagogy, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

Starting from an intercultural education framework, this paper examines whether students at two Zagreb universities perceive interactions with their teachers to be gender inuenced. In the rst part of the paper, we outline the context of the research and the two theoretical constructs which correspond to traditionally male and female teachersperformances at university. In the second part of the paper, we present the results of the survey we conducted. The results show that the students recognized some aspects of gender bias in interaction with their teachers and that gendered cultures reected in the dominantly female or male teachersperformances were indeed present at the universities included in the survey.

Keywords: gender bias; teacherstudent interaction; Zagreb University; repro- duction of traditional gender roles

Introduction

In the past decades, intercultural education has been marked by a wide expansion at the theoretical, methodical and practical levels. Sensitivity to social context, as one of the determinants of intercultural educational approaches, has resulted in the diversication of the eld, with regard to general trends in education (globalization, interest in other cultures, evolution of educational theories and greater respect for human rights), as well as specic historical, social and economic conditions which play a signicant part in the design of educational policies of individual countries (Bleszynska 2010). Among various issues tackled by authors in the elds of inter- cultural and critical pedagogy, gender has taken, owing to the second wave of femi- nism and the advance of identity and cultural studies, a prominent place. (Hetero) sexism has thus been recognized as a form of oppression (cultural imperialism) which is being, if not addressed properly, socially reproduced. Additionally, there has come about, in opposition to cognitive development theory, an expansion of gender development theories which highlight the role of culture in gender socializa- tion and the development of gender identities. Among such authors who criticize cognitive development theory, Bem (1993) occupies a prominent place with her enculturated lens theory, which states that culture provides individuals with a set of principles about acceptable behaviour, called lenses, which, in most of the western world, exist in three basic forms: gender polarization (men and women considered

*Corresponding author. Email: mbartulo@ffzg.hr

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  • 148 M. Bartulović et al.

completely different), androcentrism (men are superior to women; their experiences are the norm against which women are judged) and biological essentialism (power relations between men and women as the result of natural unavoidable differences). Bems theory is particularly relevant for our study as it asserts that gendered behav- iours are deeply embedded in societys values, social structures and peoples minds and are systematically reproduced from one generation to the next, which is impor- tant to reect upon in the context of education. All this makes notions of gender, culture and education inseparable, and the relations between them potent for reection from an intercultural perspective, funda- mentally focused on the issues of appreciating diversity and context sensitivity. Addressed properly, this puts many challenges before educators, considering the way their personal gender and sexual identities are presented and (re)constructed in professional contexts, shaping a prism of values through which they approach their students. Given this fact, female students from different cultural backgrounds are perhaps the most sensitive target group, since ethnicity, religion and language are fore grounded as diversity markers, while gender and sexuality often get left behind since power relations between men and women are looked upon as the result of nat- ural differences between them. All the above mentioned are to be discussed in the remainder of the paper, as reected in Croatian higher education, more specically in teacherstudent interac- tions at Zagreb University.

Gender issues in the croatian educational system

In the past decade, the issue of gender equality 1 has become a focus in the Croatian socio-political space, primarily by the signing of various documents which guaran- tee gender equality. This situation reects the current social climate in Croatia, which is largely inuenced by the process of Croatian accession to the European Union and the harmonization of Croatian legislation with the European Union Acquis Communautaire. Therefore, between 2001 and today, Croatia adopted or drafted a number of signicant documents, such as the National Policy for the Pro- motion of Gender Equality 20012005 (Nacionalna politika za promicanje ravno- pravnosti spolova za period od 2001. do 2005. godine 2001), the National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 20062010 (Nacionalna politika za promi- canje ravnopravnosti spolova 20062010. godine 2006), the Act on the Ratication of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Zakon o potvrđivanju Fakultativnog protokola uz Konvenciju o ukidanju svih oblika diskriminacije žena 2001), the Act on Same-Sex Unions (Zakon o istospolnim zajednicama 2003) and the Act on Gender Equality (Zakon o ravnopravnosti spolova 2008). However, regardless of this legal basis, major improvements in the status of womens human rights have not been made as concluded in the Report on Womens Human Rights in 2006 (Izvještaj o stanju ljud- skih prava žena u Republici Hrvatskoj u 2006. godini 2006). Their violation still occurs in all areas of life, especially in the educational system, in which there is no education on gender equality, a pre-requisite for transforming ingrained practices. Nevertheless, at the legislative level, the Croatian educational system has made some efforts to promote gender-sensitive formulations. For instance, there is an ethical requirement that textbooks must meet textbook standards (Udžbenički standard 2007), highlighting the use of nouns of both genders, especially in

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Intercultural Education 149

reference to professions and occupations (while at the same time paying attention not to disturb the natural communication and natural ow of the Croatian language), thus supporting gender equality in an appropriate manner. Such construc- tions are challenging since the use of both genders indeed undermines the natural- ness of the Croatian language, especially in reference to professions and occupations which have traditionally been feminized or masculinized. Nevertheless, it is crucial to insist upon language and gender-sensitivity, at least at the initial stages of the implementation of gender-sensitive policies in education, even at the expense of linguistic traditions. Another step forward in the declarative sense has been made with the National Curriculum Framework (Nacionalni okvirni kurikulum 2010) in which one of the strongholds of educational values is the equality of edu- cational opportunity for all, regardless of gender. In science, limited attempts at gender sensitization have been largely directed towards examining the differences in student perceptions of school subjects in obligatory education (Marušić 2006), stereotypical perceptions of mathematics and physics as a male domain (Arambašić, Vlahović-Štetić, and Severinac 2005; Jugović 2010) and gender inuenced choice of schools and professions (Baranović and Jugović 2009; Doolan 2010; Jugović 2010; all in Baranović, Doolan, and Jug- ović 2010). Particular emphasis has been placed upon the analysis of the frequency and modes of women representations in textbooks (Baranović 2000; Baranović, Doolan, and Jugović 2010; Janušić 2008; Mlinarević, Peko, and Munjiza, 2007; Polić and Polić 1979), which signies a solid basis for increasing the visibility of sexual and gender stereotypes in the educational process. However, the analysis of textbook content does not tackle the communicational and interactional aspects of the educational process, which is the most active area of the reproduction of sexual and gender stereotypes. That aspect has been so far neglected in research in Croatia. As one of the few studies that dealt with this aspect secondarily, the work of Mušanović (1995) and Mušanović and Vrcelj (2002) is worth mentioning, whereas he warned that the pedagogical and learning theory and practice in Croatia had not developed extensive concepts and strategies for the reduction of gender segregation. It is our belief that the reproduction of sexual and gender stereotypes in educa- tion actually starts at the higher education level, during pre-service education of teachers who then reproduce the stereotypes at the lower levels of the educational system in their professional work. For that reason the focus of our research is on higher education institutions, as historical actors of the reproduction of an androcen- tric view of reality.

University as a temple of androcentrism

There are a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains All psychologists who have studied the intelligence of women recognize today that they represent the most inferior forms of human evolution. (Gustave Le Bon, French psychologist 1879, in Plous 2003)

The feminist movement has resulted in signicant changes in the position of women in society in general and at university. Thus began the process of eliminat- ing the centuries-old discrimination of women based solely on biological determin- ism, which depicted women as naturally inferior limited intellectual capacities, submissive, sensitive, gentle and child-like in need of protection, irrational, caring

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and maternal. Due to such images, women were long denied entry into higher edu- cation and could not become part of the university faculty. In the twentieth century, this changed and women were allowed (conditional) access to all educational levels. However, even after World War II, it was not uncommon that, prior to a womans enrolment, a university required a letter of approval from her husband (Sadker and Sadker 2001). Furthermore, educational programmes for women and men differed in a way that they prepared women to take on poorly positioned and paid jobs, mainly in services, thus continuing the reproduction of the dominant stereotypical image of woman and her role in society. Today, the situation of womens access to universities has changed for the better, but the traditional distribution of power within the higher education system contin- ues to restrict the opportunities for employment and advancement of women who teach at universities (Linehan, Buckley, and Koslowski 2009). Thus, the number of women who work at the Croatian universities has increased, but this increase is pre- dominantly related to lower levels of the scientic hierarchy. University rectors, deans of faculties and academies, as well as heads of departments are mostly male (above 80%), while women are equally or even more represented as assistant pro- fessors and assistants (Zavod za statistiku 2009). These data can be interpreted in the light of a decreased reputation of the academic profession, as well as from the perspective of academic capitalism, which maintains that men, due to the penetra- tion of economic principles in education, tend to preserve the leading positions because of their presupposed natural predisposition for management (Scott Metcalfe and Slaughter 2007). It is therefore not surprising that the most powerful organiza- tional positions are almost entirely occupied by men with the exception of the occa- sional biological female who acts as a social man (Sorenson 1984; in Acker 1990). Apart from the hierarchical structure of the academic staff within university, there also exists a hierarchy between different university colleges which correspond to certain professions perceived as either male or female. Both the studentschoices and government policies favour male domains such as information technology, economies, business areas and hard sciences, while female domains such as womens studies, ethnic studies, philosophy and the classics are seen as too radical or irrelevant. Since masculine areas lead directly to jobs that are most valued, women are being structurally disadvantaged (Currie, Thiele, and Harris 2002).

Reproduction of sexual stereotypes and traditional gender roles in studentteacher interaction

One of the main features of the reproduction of sexual stereotypes and traditional gender roles in the educational process is gender-inuenced teacher conduct towards students. This feature is particularly important from a pedagogical perspective because gender-based relations between university teachers and students can be reproduced in the future professional work of pre-service teachers. In other words, academia has a special responsibility for the complex process of the attitude forma- tion of future generations (Džamonja, Popović, and Duhaček 2010). Research into the mechanisms of gender bias in teacherstudent relations at university has been put into focus by many authors, such as Brady and Eisler (1999), Brinkman and Rickard (2009), Canada and Pringle (1995), Centra and Gaubatz (2000), Constanti- nople, Cornelius, and Gray (1988), Crombie et al. (2003), Robson, Francis, and Read (2004), Serex and Towsend (1999) and Stuber et al. (2009). However,

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research on these issues in Croatia is very scarce. The reason for that lies in the poor visibility of gender bias in studentteacher interaction that arises from the value orientation of a society which, after the political changes in the 1990s, experi- enced reafrmation of religion and conservative nationalism. Such a social constel- lation supports the reproduction of stereotypically female and male roles, which are being transferred and maintained through the process of gender socialization in rela- tions between teachers and students at university. The research of these issues can contribute to increase their visibility, and for that reason the framework for the investigation of gender bias in studentteacher interaction at university (based on previously described restrictive dichotomy between women and men) will be intro- duced. The components of the framework will be designated She scriptand He scriptfor the purpose of this paper. Such a division corresponds with the division regarding teaching and research, which has its origin in the functionalistic under- standing of the expressive role of women and the instrumental role of men.

She script

Traditionally, women are associated with the caring professionsof nursing and teaching, where they are expected, in a quasi-maternal manner, to care for others (Acker and Feuerverger 2000). Women faculty members perceive that they are expected to maintain a caring and nurturing demeanour while also avoiding con- frontation. They also perform the glue workof the academic department by partic- ipating more than their male colleagues in service activities that often keep departments and universities functioning (Eveline, 2004; Tierney and Bensimon 1996; all in Lester 2008). Acker and Feuerverger (2000) conducted in-depth inter- views with 27 women academics in faculties of education and found out that many believed that they should take care of their students, that it was part of what they were like as people, yet they also found that an emphasis on working with students tended to be overlooked in the reward system that they were left with unreasonable workloads as a result and that students did not necessarily reciprocate the caring. The issue is not just a subjective feeling of a teacher that her work is not valued enough, but also the fact that the research shows that students rate female and male faculty according to subtle culturally conditioned age and gender stereotypes (Bennett 1982; Kite 2001; all in Arbuckle and Williams 2003). Miller and Chemberlin (2000) showed that students taking sociology courses in a research university were much more likely to attribute the Ph.D. achievement to a man, including the male graduate instructor, than to a woman who is a faculty member, even a full professor. Besides evaluations, studentsexpectations of teachers differ depending on the teacher s gender. Students expect more sympathy, concern and leniency from women professors than from men (Bernard 1964; Statham et al. 1991; all in Baker and Coop 1997), while Carson (2001) concludes that students expect to receive higher grades from nurturingfemale teachers. There are also differences in the perception of boundaries in relations between teachers and students, where students are more prone to informal communicational styles with female university teachers. Heckert et al. (1999; in Carson 2001) found that female faculty members reported experiencing behaviours from students indica- tive of a relative lack of respect, e.g. challenging grades and phoning staff at home. All of the above-mentioned differ signicantly from the role of the male university teacher, which is embodied in the He script.

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He script

At university, the He scriptis closely related to research activities. These activities are usually the highest status activities within the university and institutions that want to increase their status typically try to raise their research proles (Acker and Feuerverger 2000). Although all faculty are expected to do some teaching, excellent teaching will not by itself guarantee tenure the decisive factor in tenure, promo- tion and salary decisions is research (Park 1996). Although male teachers tend to be more engaged in research than in teaching and are in less contact with students, that often does not correlate with the respect they enjoy among students. While investigating which academic status students assigned to anonymous lecturers, (Miller and Chemberlin 2000) found out that a professor is a status that is, for many students, reserved for the male classroom instructor, an assumption based solely on gender rather than an objective assessment of competence. As for direct interaction with students, female students generally perceive male instructors as less encouraging and view their classes less positively. On average, male teachers tend to lecture more and ask fewer questions than female teachers do, resulting in a less interactive and comfortable classroom environment (Wagner and Dassopoulos 2009). Male teachers tend to use more offensive humour in small clas- ses than female teachers (Crawford and MacLeod 1990) and to play favourites and display sexist behaviour (Basow, Phelan, and Capotosto 2006). All of the above is in line with the traditional and socially dominant male gender role. However, it should in no way be concluded that all male teachers take on the above described He scriptperformance. Indeed, there are male teachers who contribute to gender awareness signicantly more than some of their female colleagues.

Methodology

Aims

This study was conducted in order to empirically examine previously set She script’–‘He scripttheoretical constructs in studentteacher interactions at two Zagreb University colleges, as perceived by the students of those universities. With regard to both the teachersgender and the type of the college, our main research question was whether the interaction between students and teachers was gender inuenced. This question was operationalized into the following questions:

Are student perceptions of their teachersscientic credibility dependent upon teachersgender and the type of college? Are there differences in communication in the classroom with regard to teach- ersgender and the type of college? Is the quality of any form of teacherstudent consultation dependent upon teachersgender and the type of college?

Participants

A total of 123 students participated in the research: 49 students from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture and 74 students from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The sample is an accidental sample, while the two colleges were chosen with regard to the proportion of female and male students

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who attended them. The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences was chosen because of the predominance of female students in the overall proportion of stu- dents, while at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture male students dominate numerically. In the Republic of Croatia, the Faculty of Humani- ties and Social Sciences/Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture are still perceived as female/male colleges, respectively, so we used the predomi- nance of female/male students at those colleges as markers of traditionally female/ male domains. Although our basic research aim was to explore whether teachers at Zagreb University, in general, take on traditionally female or male roles (She He script), we also decided to see if there were any differences in student percep- tions of teachersconduct towards them between a feminized college such as the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and a masculinized college such as the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture.

Method

The research was conducted using a questionnaire. The questionnaire was especially constructed for this purpose. Reliability analysis of the questionnaire produced an alpha coefcient of 0.7445. The questionnaire consisted of 39 statements, for which the students indicated whether they applied to female or male teachers, or equally to both or none of the two. The statements which showed signicant statistical dif- ferences in the distribution of responses with regard to teachersgender were taken into account, while the statements in which the majority of respondents marked that they applied to both female and male teachers equally or none of the two were not taken into consideration for further analysis.

Results

The results were analyzed according to the previously set theoretical framework and the She script’–‘He scriptconstructs of teachersperformance at university. The results which deviate from the set constructs can be considered to t the It script.

Items that t She script

The testing of the distribution of responses for the overall sample did not show sta- tistically signicant differences to conrm the She scriptas the dominant perfor- mance mode of female teachers, but there appeared certain statistically relevant differences in the distribution of the responses with regard to the independent vari- able type of college(see Table 1).

Table 1.

Items that t She scriptwith regard to the type of college.

Statement

2

χ

p

Meticulously dened and structured teaching

11.4

0.01

Exhaustive feedback on student questions via email

11.08

0.011

Regularly holds consultations

14.35

0.002

Has difculties in managing classroom behaviour

10.5

0.015

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Table 2.

Items that t He scriptwith regard to the type of college.

 

2

Statement

χ

p

Absolutely acquainted with the teaching subject matter

8.77

0.033

Uses highly complex scientic language

31.05

0.00

His/her very appearance is awe-inspiring

16.69

0.001

Uses humour offensive to the opposite gender in class

12.85

0.005

During class makes a variety of sexist comments

10.39

0.016

Expresses more sentiment (sympathy) towards female students

20.48

0.00

than male students Uses highly formal language in communication via email

10.89

0.012

With regard to the type of college, the students of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences perceived more often that the statements Meticulously dened and structured teaching, Exhaustive feedback on student questions via e-mail and Regularly holds consultations applied to female teachers. At the same time, the stu- dents of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture perceived more often that the statement Has difculties in managing classroom behaviour applied to female teachers.

Items that t He script

The testing of the distribution of responses for the overall sample showed certain statistically relevant differences, which conrmed the He scriptas the dominant performance mode of male teachers. In that light, the respondents perceived that the statement His/her very appearance is awe-inspiring applied more to male teachers (a 100% level of signicance, p = 0.00 and χ 2 = 43.97). The testing of the distribution of responses for the overall sample did not show statistically relevant differences on other statements, but there appeared certain sta- tistically relevant differences in the distribution of e responses with regard to the independent variable of type of college(Table 2). With regard to type of college, the students of the Faculty of Mechanical Engi- neering and Naval Architecture perceived more often that the statements Absolutely acquainted with the teaching subject matter, Uses highly complex scientic lan- guage, His/her very appearance is awe-inspiring, Uses humour offensive to the opposite gender in class, During class makes a variety of sexist comments, Expresses more sentiment towards female students than male students and Uses highly formal language in communication via e-mail applied to male teachers.

Discussion

Addressing our main research question, we can see that the testing of the distribu- tion of the responses shows that only one statement is statistically relevant for the entire sample. The respondents perceived that the statement His/her very appear- ance is awe-inspiring applies more to male teachers, which is conrmed by a 100% level of signicance, and which we nd extremely interesting. This can best be explained in our view using the previously outlined biological essentialism lens (power relations between men and women are the result of natural unavoidable dif- ferences), and how the principles which govern this specic lens are embedded in

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Intercultural Education 155

social structures and peoples minds. However, it is important to note that this con- clusion and all of the following are valid only within our sample, and cannot be applied to the overall population. Other statements were not relevant for the entire sample, which implies that our respondents did not perceive the She scriptas the dominant performance mode of their female teachers, nor do they perceive the He scriptas the dominant perfor- mance mode of their male teachers. However, there were certain statistically relevant differences in the distribution of the responses with regard to the independent variable type of college. To be more precise, a third of all statements were statistically signicant for our theoreti- cal framework and the She script’–‘He scriptconstructs. As the previously pre- sented results show, from the studentsperception, the She scriptwas the dominant performance mode of female teachers at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (designated as female domain), while the He scriptwas the domi- nant performance mode of male teachers at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture (designated as male domain). Our results suggest the exis- tence of a gendered culture in higher education institutions associated with different types of colleges and gendered teacher performances. Within our sample, a specic gendered culture, such as feminine, does not support a gendered performance oppo- site of the dominant. In other words, it seems that in a feminine culture, tradition- ally male teacher performance (He script) is not encouraged and was not detected by our research, and vice versa. To go into more depth, our results show that the students at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences perceived female teachers, more often than male teachers, to dene and structure their teaching, provide exhaustive feedback on stu- dent questions and assignments and consult with students regularly. On the other hand, none of the statements which refer to the availability of male teachers to the students provided statistically relevant differences. However, when the communica- tion between male teachers and students did occur, the students at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture perceived that the teachers tended to use highly formal language, thus maintaining a certain distance towards them. Furthermore, it is interesting to highlight a specic group of statements, among those that conrmed the He script, which portrays the conduct of male teachers towards female students at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Archi- tecture (Uses humour offensive to the opposite gender in class, During class makes a variety of sexist comments and Expresses more sentiment (sympathy) towards female students than male students). While expressing more sentiment towards female students can point to benevolent sexism, humour offensive to the opposite gender and various sexist comments indicate hostile sexism (Glick and Fiske 2003). With regard to all of the above-mentioned, we conclude that there are certain differences in communication in the classroom and in the quality of teacherstudent consultation which are dependent upon teachersgender. The last question that we want to address is as follows: are the studentspercep- tions of their teachersscientic credibility dependent upon teachersgender? Tradi- tionally, female caring performance is often not appreciated in the academic community (Acker and Feuerverger 2000), while a thorough preparation for the class does not guarantee a female teacher s scientic legitimacy. Precisely, for this reason it is signicant that our results show that the students at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture perceive that female teachers

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experience more difculties in managing classroom behaviour, while the same respondents perceive that the male teachersvery appearance as awe-inspiring. Unlike the nurturing female teacher, the statements which conrm the male teacher as a competent scientist show to be statistically relevant at the Faculty of Mechani- cal Engineering and Naval Architecture (Absolutely acquainted with the teaching subject matter and Uses highly complex scientic language). There are several limitations of this study that have to be taken into account. First of all is the size of the sample, which does not allow any conclusions about the differences within sub-samples. Apart from the small sample, additional prob- lems arise from the socially desirable responses, which prove particularly problem- atic with responses from students whom we teach. Finally, certain limitations arise from the research methodology, since the full essence of the issue cannot be grasped with quantitative methodology, as well as the context in which the research took place. Quantitative methodology is indeed appropriate for documenting the existing situation, but an attempt at transforming the adverse social relations requires the use of qualitative methodology.

Conclusion

Examining gender in higher education is a multilayered and highly complex ques- tion. Our research aims at shedding light on gender inuenced teacherstudent inter- action which is just one of the possible approaches to gender bias at university. The results show that the students from our sample recognize some aspects of gender bias in interaction with their teachers and that gendered cultures and dominantly female or male performances are present at the colleges included in the survey. These results can be used as a stimulus for critical examination of gender bias in teacherstudent interaction as well as to open additional space for further research, which should tackle these issues in more depth. They also beg the analysis of the interaction between gender and cultural/national/ethnic background variables in higher education.

Note

  • 1. Here, Equality means equality of rights and equality before the law, and consequently equal treatment of women and men. Equity presumes that that all human beings are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without limitations set by the given gender roles; it also presumes that different behaviours, aspirations and needs of women and men are equally taken into account, valued and promoted. Equity is a key concept for resolving complex relations between power, domination and sub-ordination in social, political, cultural and economic contexts, as well as in personal lives, and for enabling the realization of women as full and free beings (Pojmovnik rodne terminologije 2007).

Notes on contributors

Marija Bartulović is a research assistant at the Department of Pedagogy, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb.

Barbara Kušević is a research assistant at the Department of Pedagogy, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb.

Ana Širanović is a research assistant at the Department of Pedagogy, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb.

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