Introducing and Evaluating the Effective Inclusion of Gender Dimension in STEM Higher Education
1.2. Research Environment
1.3. Objectives and Research Questions
- Main objective:
- Secondary objectives:
- To build capacity of participating academic staff of GDT project, giving them the appropriate tools, so that they could redefine their courses incorporating the gender dimension in teaching;
- To create a survey template to assess the perception and situation regarding the gender dimension in teaching in both teachers and students;
- To help integrating this much-needed dimension in all the curricula of the UPC, in the medium–long term in order to comply with the requirements of the AQU, which enforces the incorporation of the gender dimension in all the Bachelor and Master degrees in Catalonia by 2021.
- Is it possible to reach a consensus within the teaching staff on what would be the best way to incorporate the gender dimension in teaching?
- What were the strengths and weaknesses of the project participants regarding the application (in their subjects) of the gender dimension before the start of this experience? And at the end of the project?
- What are the priority actions when implementing the gender dimension in teaching?
- What was the perception of the students in the application of the gender dimension in the participating subjects?
1.4. Theoretical Framework
2.1. Indicator 1: Teacher’s Self-Assessment Questionnaire
2.2. Indicator 2: Student’s Perception Questionnaire
2.3. Indicator 3: Final Assessment Questionnaire
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Teacher’s Self-Assessment Questionnaire
- Eighty-four percent of participants considered that their subject was socially relevant, while only 36% believed that their subject was gender relevant. When asked if the subject included any gender aspect, 90% answered that it did not. This perception did not correspond to reality, as will be seen in the answers to the other items, but responds to the widespread impression that introducing gender into teaching is only introducing gender-related content, leaving aside the other three pillars.
- About the inclusion of female referents in teaching, 58% responded that they did not include any. Sixty-eight percent stated that they had not consulted any recommendation guide for the use of non-sexist language. Regarding gender stereotypes, 77% of the teachers used exercises and examples that did not include gender stereotypes.
- More than half of the teaching staff stated that they did not give students the opportunity to participate in defining the subject. This issue also gave rise to debates, partly because of the apparent incompatibility of the action in groups with a large number of students and partly because of the apparent extra work that this entails. Another detected factor was that participants did not see the relationship of this issue with the gender dimension.
- Eighty-four percent of the teaching staff considered that their proposed activities did not include gender aspects. Again, it is clear that initially gender is related to teaching only within the content pillar.
- Eighty-seven percent stated that they did not include any conference or video from a female referent in his/her subject. While it is true that 60% of the GDT participating teachers were women and therefore this action is not so relevant because they act as female referents.
- Classroom management:
- Only 26% of the teaching staff analyzed the distribution by gender in group assignments. Nineteen percent of respondents did not know what to answer this question, mainly because in some of their subjects the percentage of male students was extremely high and therefore there was not much to analyze in terms of gender distribution within the groups. It was also discussed whether the teacher should force a particular distribution, e.g., the conditions of the percentage of female students in each group. Regarding this issue, ignorance of students’ real preferences was evident.
- Ninety-four percent stated that they took care of the language used in the classroom and that it was gender inclusive. It is noted that 68% took care that the interventions of the students were free of sexist language. Fifty-eight percent of teachers tried to promote female participation in the classroom and 42% protected such participation from male incursions (such as mansplaining). In the debate on this issue, uncertainties also arose about how to act in the promotion of female participation and even uncertainties about whether the prejudices of GDT members themselves would not condition the perception of reality. Again, there was a lack of quantitative evidence of students’ preferences or behaviors. No general relationship was detected between the teacher’s perception of female participation in the classroom and the teacher’s gender.
- Regarding group work, 68% were aware of the role played by the different team members; but only 19% proposed periodic role changes within the work teams. In relation to this issue, many uncertainties also arose as to how to act.
- Thirty-two percent did not consider the activities that included gender aspects as evaluable. It is also surprising that the remaining 68% did not know what to answer to this question, mainly because they had never considered that gender issues should also be taken into account in the assessment.
- A large part of the teaching staff provided feedback throughout the course, although this feedback was lower in the individualized case and after the final exam.
- Fifty-eight percent of the teaching staff used the peer co-assessment at some point. This percentage is probably higher than the university average, but, as mentioned before, many of the participants had experience in teaching innovation.
3.2. Students’ Perception Questionnaire
3.3. Final Assessment Questionnaire
- All the actions in which the students receive greater autonomy, leaving them to choose part of the contents, some subjects of the projects, some questions in the written exam or that the students participate in the design of the assessment process.
- Actions aimed at achieving mixed work teams with non-stereotyped roles. From the discussions of the face-to-face sessions, it can be deduced that the answer ‘Not applicable’ is due to the lack of women in the students and, therefore, to the impossibility of carrying out these actions.
3.4. Preferences and Resistances by Teachers
3.5. Research Limitations
- At the teaching level: each participating teacher must continue to introduce the gender dimension in their subject, incorporating more actions and improving their application. This process could be carried out with a more relaxed accompaniment, with some specific work sessions such as coffee breaks, to share experiences and accelerate the process;
- At the institutional level: to repeat the process carried out in GDT project with other teachers and thus extend the network of experts and promote institutional change.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|Contents||Usefulness of the subject for students.|
Relation of the subject with other subjects.
Social relevance of the subject.
Gender relevance of the subject.
Social aspects of the subject.
|Inclusion of female references.|
Consultation guide of recommendations for the use of non-sexist and androcentric language.
Use of non-sexist language
Inclusion of images with gender stereotypes.
Inclusion of exercises and examples with gender stereotypes.
|Opportunities for student participation in defining the subject.|
Application of knowledge by students on topics of interest to them.
Inclusion of gender aspects in active learning.
Recommendations for the preparation of scientific documents.
|Inclusion of lectures or videos of female references.|
Channel to make gender actions visible.
|Carrying out a survey to quantify awareness in the subject.|
Modification of teaching based on the results of the previous survey.
Feedback with peers to improve teaching.
|Classroom management||Detection of different behaviours in students according to gender.|
Analysis of the distribution by gender in the working groups.
|Care and inclusion of language by the teacher.|
Care and inclusion of language by students.
Control of participation by gender.
Promotion of female participation.
Protection of female participation from male incursions.
Tolerance to student comments.
|Detection of roles of different team members in group work.|
Empowerment of women in teamwork.
|Assessment||Assessment of activities that include gender aspects.|
Information to students about the assessment criteria.
Inclusion of different activities in the assessment of the subject.
Use of diverse assessment typology.
|Feedback to the class group.|
Feedback after the final exam.
|Use of co-assessment between peer groups.|
Option to give students their own assessment typology.
|School/Faculty||Bachelor/Master Degree||Covered Courses||Involved|
|Castelldefels School of Telecommunications|
and Aerospace Engineering
|Bachelor degree in Aerospace Systems Engineering||Meteorology|
Fundamentals of physics
|Barcelona School of Architecture||Bachelor degree in Architecture||Architecture workshop|
Urban planning I
Urban planning II
|Barcelona School of Civil Engineering||Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering||Urban planning|
Differential geometry and differential equations
Probability and statistics
|Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering||Master degree in Industrial Engineering||Industrial engineering|
Description and improvement of processes
Management and cost control
|Barcelona Faculty of Nautical Studies||Double Bachelor degree in Naval Systems and Technology Engineering||Fluid mechanics|
Maritime technical English
Naval and mechanical Technology
Quality, safety, environment and sustainability management
|Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering||Master degree in Environmental Pathways for Sustainable Energy Systems (SELECT, Kic InnoEnergy)||Energy and environment|
Oral and written communication
|Barcelona School of Telecommunications|
|Master degree in Applied Telecommunications and Engineering Management (MASTEAM)||Master Thesis|
Project on ICT-based business models
Next-generation wireless communications
5G Network planning
|Manresa School of Engineering||Bachelor degree in ICT Systems Engineering||Complementary technologies 1|
Complementary technologies 2
Mathematical foundations for ICT
|Previous session||December 2018||A tool for self-assessment of the gender dimension in teaching for teachers was developed.||To know the gender perceptions of the participation teachers.||Answer, by the teachers, to the preliminary self-assessment questionnaire on the degree of introduction of the gender dimension in teaching.|
|1||2019/01/18||The objectives, work schedule and training on gender and teaching were presented, with examples inside and outside at the University.||The theoretical and practical bases for the development of the project were provided.||1. Analysis of the form answered online regarding the experience of the team. This lead to a discussion on the real needs of students and our pre-judgements.|
2. Presentation of the pre-test concept.
|2||2019/02/05||The objectives of each work team were reviewed. These include promoting the participation of female students in the classroom, the introduction of female references, the revision of teaching material, the definition of more contextualized evaluations, etc.||Participants worked together to propose pre-test questions.||1. Prior to session 2 all participants should have to define the gender action to be applied in their subjects, the pre-test questions and the indicators for the assessment.|
2. Decision: include in the pre-test some questions to confirm our hypothesis about student’s needs and present situation.
3. A pre-test and a post-test were designed and sent to the students at the beginning and at the end of the term.
|3||2019/03/15||After showing and analyzing the results of the pre-test, a group work was carried out, interspersing teachers from different fields in order to visualize the social and gender relevance of all subjects, from the most applied to the most theoretical.||The partial results of the pre-test and the indicators selected to achieve the objectives were analyzed.||Teamwork activity: mixed groups had to answer questions related to 4 aspects: 1. What is being taught and why? |
2. Which is the utility of what is being studied, who is the beneficiary and how can we increase their benefits, does these benefits depend on the gender?
3. Which is the data required for the study, and its origin, do they depend on the gender?
4. Are there any different strategies to analyze it? which is the criteria for choosing one or another? does it depend on gender?
A form for each subject was defined where the goals, the indicators and the gender relevance was made explicit.
|4||2019/04/25||The different experiences on evaluation and their results depending on the gender were analyzed.||A collection of subjects with relevant activities from a gender dimension was prepared.||1. Presentation of the state of the art regarding gender and evaluation.|
2. Discussion according to our experiences.
3. A new form regarding the subjects were the introduction of a gender dimension is straightforward was defined.
|5||2019/06/07||The different experiences were analyzed, thus collecting the indicators on the effectiveness of the project.||A collection of recommendations, subject sheets and post-test results were analyzed, and priority subjects were identified to apply the gender dimension in each degree.||A new workgroup appeared in order to further improve the questionnaire on the perception of the gender dimension of the students.|
Non-probability sampling by judgment or opinion.
|Population||(a)||Teachers participating in the project|
|(b)||Students enrolled in the subjects participating in the project|
|(c)||Teachers participating in the project|
|Survey period||(a)||January 2019|
|Process||Survey anonymous online|
|Data collection instruments||Google Forms®|
|Data analysis instruments||IBM SPSS v19 Solutions for Education®|
|Obvious||Immediate||Medium/Long Term||Never||Not Applicable|
|1||Make the utility explicit||83.9%||12.9%||0.0%||0.0%||3.2%|
|2||Make the social relevance explicit||41.9%||51.6%||6.5%||0.0%||0.0%|
|3||Make the relevance of gender explicit||22.6%||64.5%||9.7%||0.0%||3.2%|
|4||Explain the relationship with other subjects||87.1%||3.2%||9.7%||0.0%||0.0%|
|5||Teaching guide: sustainability and social commitment competence||29.0%||45.2%||19.4%||0.0%||6.5%|
|6||Teaching guide: objectives with social and/or gender relevance||22.6%||48.4%||22.6%||0.0%||6.5%|
|7||References of female authors and/or female professionals||32.3%||58.1%||9.7%||0.0%||0.0%|
|8||References with full name||22.6%||58.1%||12.9%||3.2%||3.2%|
|9||Non-sexist or androcentric language||74.2%||25.8%||0.0%||0.0%||0.0%|
|10||Images without stereotypes||71.0%||29.0%||0.0%||0.0%||0.0%|
|11||Examples and exercises without stereotypes||51.6%||32.3%||9.7%||0.0%||6.5%|
|12||Context with different themes||58.1%||32.3%||6.5%||0.0%||3.2%|
|13||Students participate in the contents||45.2%||16.1%||22.6%||0.0%||16.1%|
|15||Projects: students choose a theme||58.1%||9.7%||16.1%||3.2%||12.9%|
|16||Projects: with social and/or gender relevance||32.3%||35.5%||25.8%||0.0%||6.5%|
|17||Case study: relevant woman||12.9%||41.9%||25.8%||0.0%||19.4%|
|18||Guidelines for nonverbal oral communication||67.7%||9.7%||9.7%||0.0%||12.9%|
|19||Conference or video of a female referent||16.1%||41.9%||29.0%||0.0%||12.9%|
|20||Activities: explain the social and/or gender relevance||35.5%||38.7%||19.4%||0.0%||6.5%|
|21||Gender pre-test and post-test||9.7%||64.5%||22.6%||0.0%||3.2%|
|22||Comment on pre-test and post-test results||6.5%||64.5%||25.8%||0.0%||3.2%|
|23||Teaching adapted to interest and needs||74.2%||25.8%||0.0%||0.0%||0.0%|
|24||Language guidelines in oral and written communications||48.4%||38.7%||6.5%||0.0%||6.5%|
|26||Analysis of participation imbalances||45.2%||38.7%||9.7%||0.0%||6.5%|
|27||Promote female participation||58.1%||32.3%||3.2%||0.0%||6.5%|
|28||Protect from male incursions||51.6%||35.5%||0.0%||3.2%||9.7%|
|29||Take care of your own response||80.6%||16.1%||0.0%||0.0%||3.2%|
|30||Teacher: inclusive and non-sexist language||83.9%||12.9%||0.0%||0.0%||3.2%|
|31||Students: inclusive and non-sexist language||58.1%||38.7%||0.0%||0.0%||3.2%|
|32||Distribution by gender in teamwork: analyze and make explicit||38.7%||32.3%||6.5%||3.2%||19.4%|
|33||Distribution of roles in teamwork: analyze and make explicit||29.0%||35.5%||16.1%||0.0%||19.4%|
|34||Promote roles in teamwork||19.4%||32.3%||19.4%||3.2%||25.8%|
|35||Empowerment of female students in teamwork||45.2%||32.3%||3.2%||0.0%||19.4%|
|36||Accessibility outside of class hours||96.8%||0.0%||0.0%||0.0%||3.2%|
|37||Assessment of activities with gender dimension||12.9%||41.9%||29.0%||0.0%||16.1%|
|38||Publish assessment criteria in advance||77.4%||12.9%||3.2%||3.2%||3.2%|
|39||Multiple and various assessment instruments||74.2%||9.7%||12.9%||0.0%||3.2%|
|41||Non-unique written exam question format||67.7%||12.9%||6.5%||0.0%||12.9%|
|42||Contextualize the statements–social and/or gender relevance||38.7%||29.0%||22.6%||3.2%||6.5%|
|43||Analysis of results disaggregated by gender||22.6%||41.9%||22.6%||3.2%||9.7%|
|45||Formative assessment in the final exam||64.5%||12.9%||9.7%||3.2%||9.7%|
|46||Students participate in the assessment process||19.4%||16.1%||29.0%||9.7%||25.8%|
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|Pillars of GDT||Contents||Methodology||Classroom Management||Assessment|
|Description||Among the options to consider:||Among the options to consider:||Options to mitigate these biases include:||The methods for evaluating both students and teaching staff are also affected by biases of different kinds. |
There is an extensive literature on gender aspects according to the type of examinations and teacher intervention in the evaluation, pointing to the role of the formulation of the questions, the general framework for the evaluation or the type of oral interaction.
Teachers do not have a monopoly on gender biases: when evaluating, students express strong biases to the detriment of female teachers.
|Male Answers||Do You Think Women Are Struggling with Their Studies?|
|Do you have evidence of biased teachers’ treatment?||0||0.00%||0.95%||1.18%||0.24%||0.24%||0.24%||2.84%|
|Female Answers||Do You Think Women Are Struggling with Their Studies?|
|Do you have evidence of biased teachers’ treatment?||0||0.00%||0.00%||3.25%||1.63%||4.07%||1.63%||10.57%|
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Peña, M.; Olmedo-Torre, N.; Mas de les Valls, E.; Lusa, A. Introducing and Evaluating the Effective Inclusion of Gender Dimension in STEM Higher Education. Sustainability 2021, 13, 4994. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094994
Peña M, Olmedo-Torre N, Mas de les Valls E, Lusa A. Introducing and Evaluating the Effective Inclusion of Gender Dimension in STEM Higher Education. Sustainability. 2021; 13(9):4994. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094994Chicago/Turabian Style
Peña, Marta, Noelia Olmedo-Torre, Elisabet Mas de les Valls, and Amaia Lusa. 2021. "Introducing and Evaluating the Effective Inclusion of Gender Dimension in STEM Higher Education" Sustainability 13, no. 9: 4994. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094994