The War on (Female) Teachers

I have a firm, unshakable belief that one reason why educators are easy targets for the current war on teachers in America is because 76% of us are female according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

This case study on a young female teacher hit home:

“…it was clear that she was against ‘teaching-to-the test’ and the emphasis on content knowledge, ‘drill and practice’ instruction or other traditional instructional practices, which were prevalent among most of her colleagues…(who) attacked her for being ‘different’ and for not teaching the way everyone else was” (Zembylas, 474).  

Zembylas notes that “shame…(tends) to characterize women more than men” (475). Society has for millennia used shame to demand conformity from women. Teachers who dare to be different in standardized US schools are punished with demands for data and tests to”hold accountable” a female-dominated teaching profession.

Noam Chompsky explains that education is “a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive.”

Women are easy targets for the role of submissive educator.  Strober and Tyack state, “By structuring jobs to take advantage of sex-role stereotypes about women’s responsiveness to rules and male authority… school boards were able to…control the curriculum, students and personnel. …Given this purpose of tight control, women were ideal employees” (466).

Females teachers are frustrated by intense scrutiny.  Every aspect of female’s comportment is monitored with a suspicious eye: from teacher dress codes that target women (Kahn) to prejudices that women are weaker in classroom management and even school or district-wide management (Glass).

administrators

In America’s war against teachers, male and female teachers feel reluctant to demand a change in educational policies. However, research indicates that compared to male colleagues, female teachers work toward changes in educational programming less, but instead focus on helping each other cope with daily struggles (Acker). This is fine, but daily survival isn’t enough: teacherspayteachers.com can wait; Twitter, Facebook, letters to our congressmen, school board, and local newspaper editors can’t.   Joining teachers unions, BAT, and otherwise mobilizing and collaborating now can not wait.


Acker, S. (1995). Carry on caring: the work of women teachers. British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 16, no. 1. pp. 21-36.

Glass, T. E. (n.d.). Where Are All the Women Superintendents? Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://www.aasa.org/SchoolAdministratorArticle.aspx?id=14492

Kahn, M. (2013, Summer). (Un)dressing teachers. Academic Exchange Quarterly,17(2).

Strober, M. and Tyack, D. “Why Do Women Teach and Men Manage? A Report on Research on Schools.” In Signs, The Iournal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol. 5, No. 3, Spring, 1980.

Troen, V. and Boles, K. (1992). Leadership from the Classroom: Women Teachers as the Key to School Reform. Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA, April 1992.

Zembylas, M. (2005). Beyond teacher cognition and teacher beliefs: The value of the ethnography of emotions in teaching. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education,18, 465-487.

 

 

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Claire Walter

I am an ESL teacher and I promote differentiated, compassionate instruction and assessment for English Language Learners.

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