Strategy and planning for 2009

At the Centre for Gender Research, within the research profile Education, a cross disciplinary research group carries through research on different educational questions. These questions address teaching strategies, learning processes and identity formation among students, especially within science education. Participatory oriented and action research projects are carried out in schools at different levels, in universities as well as in other organisations.

The work takes a point of departure from a critical view on teaching and a common interest for research on non-oppressive teaching strategies. An endeavour is to gather around clearly defined research areas that at the same time are “open”, i.e. depending on the participants’ subject field competences we frame research questions from different perspectives within a common theme. An import task is to establish national and international academic networks, with a potential to gain stability over time. Other kinds of networks that cross the borders between academy, educational organisations and activist groups are of equal importance.
In order to bring about an activity that is sustainable over time, our aim is to gather around themes of interest in common. One such theme is shortly described below.

Gender and science education

Attempts to reform science education have only to a minor extent taken into account that gender issues may have an influence on pupils’ learning and interests. Examples of using feminist or gender theories for analyzing or planning science education are thus difficult to find in the literature (Nyström 2007). Research on gender and science learning has most often looked upon sex as something restricted to the individual student, while the natural science in itself and its gender tension more seldom has been a focal point (Nyström, 2007). One reason could be the view of natural science as being objective, true and out of influence from the society. In a way sex has been something “invisible” within science, but at the same time especially physics have been dominated by male scientists and science in general is associated with male symbols. Girls/women can thus experience difficulties in incorporating these disciplines upon forming their own identities (Barton 1998, Gilbert 2001, Brickhouse 2001). Those who have placed attention on the relevance of gender issues in the teaching of science, often through a critical assessment of the subjects as such have used different feminist theories as a starting point. However, these theories have only in a minority of cases been applied in empirical investigations of science educational contexts (Sinnes 2006). The work within the research profile Education has a potential to fill this gap.
One of our research areas considers if and how increased gender awareness can be achieved by science teachers and prospective science teachers and, by extension, if this can lead to changes in the way science is taught regarding both content and performance. Moreover, we are interested in if and how this gender awareness affect the students view of themselves as teachers in science and their relation to natural sciences, in other words how it affects their identity by profession. 

Barton, A.C. (1998). Feminist Science Education. Teachers College Press, New York.

Brickhouse, N.W. (2001). Embodying Science: A Feminist Perspective on Learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(3), 282-295.

Gilbert, J. (2001). Science and its 'Other': looking underneath 'woman' and 'science' for new directions in research on gender and science education. Gender and Education,13(3), 291-305.

Nyström, E. (2007). Talking and taking positions. An encounter between action research and the gendered and racialised discourses of school science. Dissertations in Educational Work, Umeå universitet.

Sinnes, A. (2006). Three Approaches to Gender Equity in Science Education. NorDiNa, Nordic Studies in Science Education, 3, s. 72-83.