Term of Award

Fall 2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Delores Liston

Committee Member 1

Terry Diamanduros

Committee Member 2

Beverly Graham

Committee Member 3

Lorraine Gilpin

Abstract

This study investigated how eight female science teachers in a Consciousness Raising focus group viewed science and how they responded to the message that the nature of science is a masculine, social construct. Using the framework of Feminist Standpoint Theory and Critical Race Feminism, I investigated the reactions and reflections of the participants to the video Asking Different Questions: Women in Science (1993). Prior to the video, the teachers completed a short questionnaire and discussed the nature of science. They viewed, discussed, and related the video's message to their lived experiences. I theorized that some teachers would become more aware of the presumed masculine nature of science and relate prior lived experiences. Before and after the video, participants shared stories of being treated differently from the male students in the classroom. Prior to the video most participants believed the nature of science to be objective, but may contain some subjectivity and biases in it. Seven of the eight teachers recognized that science is not free from social constraints. After the video the most significant change in data occurred as teachers changed their minds about the objectivity of science. All but one shared that she accepted that science had a social, subjective nature. All the participants recalled stories where they felt oppressed in science classes and/or society due to being female. The over-arching themes from the study are lack of reflection and need for critical reflection and analysis, silencing, (due to intimidation, learned helplessness, and oppression), and inequitable opportunities in the classroom and in carrier choices. The significance of this study is found in unveiling the hegemonic nature of science and opening doors for discussion and reflection among teachers. Additional research is needed to determine if the teachers will apply their newfound knowledge and analysis to current pedagogical practices. Recommendations for further research center on studying experiences of teachers and subsequent impact on their current practices and beliefs. This study exposes and names the masculine hegemonic nature of science and gender biases which occur in schools and society as seen through the standpoints and experiences of female science teachers.

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