As I begin to read further into this researcher’s methods and aims, I find myself wanting to highlight all over the place without know what to write in the margin. These are ideas to ponder. For today’s entry, I will run through a few of my highlighted passages and react to them. Feel free to react along with me (there is a comments section below!).
In discussing her methods, Yakaboski reasons, “Uncovering hidden hegemonic values [in these newspapers] is important because these common-sense assumptions directly and indirectly influence societal and institutional opinions, admission policies, recruitment, and campus climate” (559). Upon first reading this, I was unsure what she meant by “uncovering” oppressive rhetoric influencing policies and climate, and to be honest, after reading further in the article, I am only beginning to have an inkling of her meaning. I suppose her conclusions will help me out here.
I find this next passage to be her best description of what she is doing with these articles and how the negative rhetoric about the gender gap beings to shape policy:
“For example, when covering the gender gap story, reporters used negative buzz words such as ‘alarm,’ ‘falling,’ ‘trouble,’ ‘unhealthy,’ ‘concern,’ ‘struggle,’ ‘danger of women taking over,’ ‘boys are flat-lining’ (Gonzalez, 2004), and ‘victim,’ to discuss the enrollment trend. The underlying narrative these words produce is that the gender gap is problematic and should be corrected. The power of this language and the resulting discourse is that it creates a binary of victims/perpetrators” (560).
Discussing the gap as a problem, she later explains, in a way vilifies or punishes girls who are succeeding. If the feminist culture change is pervading our schools and allowing female students to achieve more academically (exactly their goal), then somehow this seems to imply that boys are being put at a disadvantage. The struggle here seems to be finding the exact middle between what are considered to be masculine and feminine learning styles (a concept with which I have issues), but would that result in equal success for males and females? Would it even out college enrollment to 50%/50%? Is this the goal at all? Surely males should not be disadvantaged in the school systems, just as females should not be.
It seems the language in the articles propagates conceptions of distinct male/female learning styles; I do not believe this is the case. Furthermore, as part of Yakaboski’s premise, the larger culture greatly affects students’ sense of their gendered roles: “The idea that boys are disadvantaged due to cooperative learning in classrooms instead of rote learning and competition seems to do a disservice to young men while focusing on harming what works for young women” (561). On one level I agree with Yakaboski’s logic here, but one of her premises seems flawed to me (again, the distinct and unchanging learning styles for each gender).
Tomorrow, I’ll pick back up on the bottom of 562. Let me know what you think, where I’ve gone astray, another study to read!
Yakaboski, T. (2011). “Quietly stripping the pastels”: The Undergraduate gender gap. The REview of Higher Education (34)4, 555-580.