The Role of School Communities in Doing and Undoing Gender in ASEAN

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Asmita Khadka


Schools present an ideal setting to dismantle gender inequality in society by changing structures, norms, and practices that perpetuate gender inequality in schools. The ‘doing gender’ framework stipulates that gender is socially constructed, while the ‘undoing gender’ framework stipulates that gender can be deconstructed. This paper explores the role of schools as a site to ‘do’ and ‘undo’ gender in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Member States. It examines the deliberate efforts of school communities (teachers, students, and school administrators) in constructing or de-constructing gender in four areas- classroom practices, textbooks and other instructional materials, student leadership, and sports. Based on the analysis of qualitative data collected through multiple methods, including Focus Group Discussions (FDGs), surveys, expert interviews, and school visits in the ASEAN Member States, the study identifies the processes through which school communities engage in perpetuating as well as resisting and challenging gender bias in school and classroom practices. The findings suggest that forces at individual, school, and policy levels interact dynamically to preserve as well as dismantle gender. Thus, interventions at different levels are imperative to break the cycle of reproduction of traditional gender norms and practices and attain gender equality in schools.

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