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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2015011359
pages 107-124

LEARNING MASCULINITY: UNMASKING THE HIDDEN CURRICULUM IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS COURSES

Arleen R. Bejerano
Department of Communication Studies, Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Chapman University, Orange, California 92866, USA
Travis M. Bartosh
University of Waikato, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand

ABSTRACT

This qualitative study examines the gendering of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Education plays an important role in the socialization process, and one of the ways people learn how to perform their gendered identities is through the institutions they interact with and within. Through an analysis of course syllabi, this study investigates the hidden gender curriculum in the STEM disciplines. At first glance, many of the syllabi appear gender-neutral and even instances of gender-inclusive language are present. The formal curriculum states the acquisition of knowledge, understanding of the material, and learning new skills as the primary goals of the courses. However, certain messages reveal a hidden gender curriculum. In particular, four gendered themes emerge from the syllabi: women as incompetent, autonomy and separation, women as supporters, and masculine thinking. As these findings suggest, the hidden curriculum within the syllabi normalizes masculinity, consequently disenfranchising femininity and other gender identities and therefore perpetuating gendered divisions in academia. Suggestions for how to address this problem are included in the Discussion section.