French school system ‘encourages sexism’

French school system 'encourages sexism'
The French school system is encouraging sexism, a new report concludes. Photo: Rune Mathison
A report by French education inspectors has highlighted a lack of egalité in French schools by claiming teachers are helping to entrench sexism. Inspectors have recommended staff undergo specialist training to help break down stereotypes.

Sexism in France is being nurtured in the classrooms of the country’s schools, a new report by the General Inspectorate for Education has revealed.

Dealing with sexism and inequality in France has been a priority for the Socialist French government and in particular for the Minister for Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud Belkacem.

The report, titled "Equality between girls and boys in schools and establishments" suggests the government needs to turn its attention to schools where it appears old habits are dying hard, French newspaper Le Figaro reports.

After visiting schools, inspectors noted that boys received preferential treatment from teachers “even though they believed they were being fair”.

They also noted that teachers were more likely to choose girls to look after the class if they were absent for a short moment, because they are traditional seen as being “responsible and ready to be of service”.

Teachers’ expectations of girls in the class were also lower which was seen in the type of questions they were asked and boys were seen as being more capable and therefor received more attention from the profs and were asked more questions, the report claimed.

“Boys were assessed more on their intellectual capability but girls were judged on their positive attitude", the inspectors said.

Their report also states the results of these subtle gender biases can be seen in pupils’ results and the direction they take in their studies with inspectors noting the continued decline of females opting for the sciences.

In order to reverse the trend in order to achieve the goal where children are “seen as pupils and not just boys and girls” inspectors recommend mandatory training for teachers on issues of equality.

They also recommend the establishment of “gender statistics based on the results, subject choices and absences,” Le Figaro claims.

“A change of outlook is needed in order to deconstruct and end gender stereotypes in early schooling,” inspectors concluded adding that this must be a priority for politicians.

Education Minister Vincent Peillon is already planning more training for teachers regarding the issue of gender and his colleague in the cabinet, the minister for women’s rights Vallaud Belkacem has also taken up the fight for egalité.

In September she will launch a project with 500 schools called the “ABCD of equality”, a series of workshops aimed at “stopping children from internalising inequalities between the sexes at an early age.”

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