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Authors

Amina Bibi Baig

Abstract

The construction of gender identity is a complex process which begins at a very early formative age. In these formative years, children begin making sense of how men and women are positioned in society. Schools as important institutions play a significant role in this process particularly with reference to students’ understanding of the gender relationships around them. This article reports on a study which explored how gender identity construction takes place in a single sex (girls) classroom for early years. The study investigated the teacher-student interactions and student-student interactions in the real environment of the classroom. Qualitative research guided the study design which was conducted in a public sector school in Karachi, Pakistan. The data was collected through observations, focus group discussions with children, and semi-structured interviews with the female teacher. The study found that teaching and learning is gendered in single sex settings of the school as gender messages are passed on to the girls, playing an important role in their gender identity construction. The study indicated that the teacher’s personal experiences greatly influenced her perceptions regarding gender identities. There was also evidence that the teacher acquired insights from girls. Additionally, children brought certain perceptions from home which contributed to the gender discourse in the context of a school. Schools were, hence, found to promote those stereotypes regarding gender roles and responsibilities in a social context. All the participants were found to have views and practices around gender positioning which was approved by the larger society.

Note on the Author

Amina Bibi Baig is a visiting faculty member in the Educational Development Department at Karakorum International University, Gilgit Baltistan.

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