Classroom Practices Institute
Best Practices for Achieving
Gender Equity in the Classroom
The Equitable Classroom
Practices Institute (ECPI), was a summer institute where teacher participants
from 11 Houston area schools viewed videotapes, reviewed empirical studies,
and participated in activities to promote awareness and strategies for
positive socialization of students. The resources on this page were
developed as a result of this institute.
- Student/Teacher Interaction
- Lesson Planning/Classroom
- Curriculum Content
- Equitable Practices Slideshow
- Online Resources
- Print Resources
After completing ECPI, teachers
developed implementation plans that consist of the following strategies
that cultivate gender equity in classrooms. For the most part, instructional
strategies are based on the works of Anderson, Brooks, and Reavis, 1998;
and Morrow, 1993; and Sadker & Sadker, 1994. The following practices
are divided into the three main areas of gender bias, Sadker, 1994 and
are proven best practices for all students.
- Call on girls as often as you do boys, and be sure to ask the girls
some of the higher- level cognitive questions. Research shows that
both male and female teachers initiate more interaction with boys,
and on higher cognitive levels.
- Have high expectations of both male and female students. Do not
encourage learned helplessness by over-nurturing the girls.
- Encourage girls to be active learners by using manipulatives and
providing hands-on learning experiences.
- Use gender-free language in classroom discourse.
- Use quality, precise feedback to girls' as well as boys' answers
- not just a nod or a "good."
- Keep an interaction journal. Keep tract of the quantity and quality
of interactions with students.
- Make eye contact with all students and call them by name.
- Provide adequate wait time, perhaps 3 or 5 seconds, before calling
on a student to answer the question. Females often wait until they
have formulated an answer before they raise their hands; boys often
raise their hands immediately and then formulate an answer.
- Do not interrupt girls or let other students do so.
- Refrain from recruiting students to perform classroom "chores"
based on traditional gender roles. Do not ask only boys to assist
in carrying boxes and girls to clean the bookshelves.
- Be a model of non-bias behavior for not only your classroom, but
also the entire school.
- Mentally divide your room into quadrants. If students in all quadrants
do not participate, you can say, "Let's hear from someone in
the back right corner."
- Balance cooperative and competitive activities. Research shows that
most girls learn more readily in cooperative situations.
- Establish rules for participation and rotate jobs within each group.
- Give girls an equal amount of assistance and feedback. Boys usually
receive more help and praise that builds self-esteem.
- Ask students to discuss concepts orally. This helps students to
learn the vocabulary of the subject.
- Encourage all students to take additional math and science courses.
Adult encouragement proves to be a major factor in students' decision-making
- Encourage girls to participate in extracurricular math and science
activities. Some schools have organized Girls' Clubs where female
students interact with mentors in the fields of math, science, technology,
- Sponsor a Girls' Technology Club. Plan activities that use technology
in real life scenarios. (Do the same for math and science.)
- Provide opportunities for female students to teach lessons or tutor
younger students or even parents in math, science, and technology.
As a teacher, you will ascertain that the girls really know the content
and the opportunity to verbalize such fosters higher self-esteem.
- Stress safety precautions instead of dangers. Girls will sometimes
be reluctant to participate in lab activities if they seem too dangerous.
- Insist that girls as well as boys learn to set up and use all electronic
equipment: VCR's, video and digital cameras, printers, scanners, DVD
- Address inappropriate behavior with a fair and respectful attitude,
regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class of students.
Video tape yourself to monitor your actions.
- Use computer and lab partners. Again, most girls work better in
cooperative groups or teams.
- Introduce lessons with an overview. Females learn more readily from
the "big picture" rather than from disconnected details.
- Provide female role models. Research shows that girls need to see
females in certain professions or career choices in order to visualize
themselves in the same or similar roles; whereas boys need only to
hear about certain roles to imagine them selves taking place in those
- Provide learning experiences for girls to develop spatial visualization
- Use writing to help students express and clarify their feelings
and thoughts (e.g., math autobiographies, science journals).
- Create an attractive classroom environment. Research shows that
girls learn better in an aesthetically pleasing environment.
- To appeal to students with various learning styles, encourage students
to solve problems by multiple methods.
- Use gender inclusive language.
- Avoid generalizations that stereotype women in certain roles.
- Encourage a "can do" attitude; teach students to give
themselves credit. Females tend to credit their achievements to luck
rather than to their ability.
- Analyze curricular materials for bias and supplement as needed.
- Take girls to an Expanding Your Horizons conference in your area.
These conferences sponsored by AAUW, provide female students with
access to workshops led by female professionals in the areas of math,
science, technology, and engineering.
- Use toys to teach concepts in math and science. Traditionally, toys
that cultivate understanding of math and science concepts are typically
marketed as "boy's toys."
- Set aside an area in the classroom to serve as a resource center
that includes materials in career opportunities in math, science,
technology, and engineering.
- Diversify classroom resources to include females and diverse races.
- Celebrate Women's History Month.
- Assign biographical essays to students. Focus on male and female
inventors and females in other areas of math, science, and technology.
- Acknowledge the contributions of both men and women to mathematics
and science via posters, reports, examples, story problems, etc.
- Provide current events representative of women and other minorities
with varying economic, legal, and social concerns.
- Invite quest speakers of both genders to speak to students.
- Incorporate students' comments into lectures. This technique validates
the students' understanding of concepts.
- Help female students value them selves. Girls often have a severe
drop in self -esteem during the middle school years. Women teachers
need to model a healthy self-respect and male teachers need to have
respect for both girl students and female colleagues.
This is slide show of activities which may be used in a Best Practices
Teacher Inservice. You will need Adobe Acrobat's free reader to view
the slide show on any computer. You can download the free software here.
- Anderson, Kathie; Rhonda Brooks, and Sr. Mollie Reavis, "Instructional
- Morrow, C. "Classroom and Cooperative Group Structures that
Promote Gender Equity," presentation at the NCTM annual meeting,
Seattle, WA, 1993.
- Sadker, D. and Myra Sadker, Failing At Fairness: How Schools Cheat
Girls, Touchstone, New York, N.Y., 1994.
- Sadker, D. Gender Equity in the Classroom, 1997
- Sanders, J. Lifting the Barriers, Jo Sanders Publications, Seattle,