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Young gifted girls and boys: perspectives through the lens of gender

Lee, L. (2002) Young gifted girls and boys: perspectives through the lens of gender. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 3 (3). pp. 383-399.

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    Abstract

    In contemporary society we have become highly dependent on a technological, scientific and mathematically literate population. There has been considerable debate for many years about the lack of talented people entering professions associated with these literacies and about the level of understanding of science and technology in the general community. Since perceptions of and interest in mathematics, science and technology begin in early childhood, teachers of very young children play an important role in fostering and supporting these interests. The research problem investigated in this article emerged when the researcher became aware that teachers in Brisbane, Australia nominated as many as five times more boys than girls for a mathematics and science enrichment programme for gifted young children. Hence, teachers’ conceptions of what it means to have high ability in mathematics and science in early childhood appeared to be influenced by teacher beliefs about gender. Single in-depth interviews were conducted with 16 early childhood teachers who nominated children for the above mentioned enrichment programme. Based on interview data, a model of teachers’ conceptions of giftedness was developed, comprising seven categories of description or ways that teachers see the phenomenon of giftedness in relation to young children. A latter interpretative analysis of this model found that teachers’ conceptions of giftedness are indeed gendered and that each of the seven categories of giftedness guides teacher behaviours or actions that directly disadvantage girls. This article explores this latter analysis and concludes that gender is a significant influence on teachers’ conceptions of giftedness in young children.

    Publication Type: Journal Article
    Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
    Publisher: Symposium Journals
    Copyright: Symposium Journals
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/2846
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