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Gender, family and school: family socialization and schooling of girls and boys from working class background in São Paulo

Grant number: 11/15202-2
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2012
Effective date (End): April 27, 2014
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Other specific Sociologies
Principal researcher:Marilia Pinto de Carvalho
Grantee:Adriano Souza Senkevics
Home Institution: Faculdade de Educação (FE). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):12/09784-1 - Theoretical and methodological concentrated learning on gender, masculinities and schooling, BE.EP.MS

Abstract

Since the second half of the twentieth century, gender inequalities in Brazilian education have been reversed in favor of the girls, who now show higher education indicators than boys throughout their school trajectories. Scientific research about this topic - which makes use of the concept of gender - has contributed to shed light on the role of schools in the construction of masculinities and femininities of its students. However, some gaps still persist in research and indicate new challenges and prospects in gender and education studies field. Among these gaps, it's noticeable that few studies seek to understand - especially from the children's point of view - constructions of masculinities and femininities in the bounds of family socialization expectations and practices, including activities done by children at their homes, neighborhoods and other institutions they attend. In order to contribute to fill this gap, this qualitative research studies 25 children from working class families, between the ages of 8 and 13 years old, enrolled in the third grade of elementary education in a public school in the city of São Paulo. Using semi-structured interviews and participant observation throughout one school semester, I seek to comprehend how boys and girls perceive and resignify their families' perspectives on gender differences and similarities in order to explore the relation between educational inequalities and the constructions of masculinities and femininities in the family, based on the theoretical framework of Australian sociologist Raewyn Connel. The results suggest that, on one hand, girls have a restricted range of leisure activities and more supervised (and often prohibited) access to the street and their home surroundings, places the girls themselves perceive as dangerous and risky. On the other hand, girls tend to be overwhelmed by household chores that are part of their busy and controlled schedules in a way that reflects the sexual division of labor among adults. There is often an antagonistic relation between household chores, recreational opportunities and being allowed to move around in public spaces, resulting in home confinement contexts for many girls and, in contrast, more loose and free daily routines for most boys. Moreover, in most cases, girls have more ambitious professional aspirations for careers that require higher qualification or extended education, whereas many boys show certain ignorance or immaturity about their future prospects. Finally, I conclude that the sexist scenario of family socialization seems to stimulate higher school performance of girls in two ways: first, by encouraging the construction of femininity based on responsibility, organization and initiative - which is consistent with school's expectations; and, secondly, girls' positive significance of school as a space of entertainment, sociability and personal achievement. More than boys, girls find opportunities to broaden their horizon of practices and perspectives in school. (AU)

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