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A dwindling minority: exploring the gendered beliefs of male english language teachers in Malaysian secondary schools
thesisposted on 15.02.2017, 04:27 by Kachi Mohideen, Shamsul Nizam
The teaching profession in general and the English Language Teaching (ELT) profession in the context of Malaysia in particular do not currently offer a balanced proportion of teachers of both genders as education has been highly dominated by female teachers. This heavily feminised domain may have significant sociocultural and educational implications for both the teachers and learners of English in Malaysian schools. This dissertation investigates the gendered beliefs of 'male' English Language teachers in modern Malaysian society regarding the genderedness of the teaching profession in general and ELT in particular.The study looks at the influence of hegemonic cultural beliefs about gender using Ridgeway and Correll’s (2004) framework of gender beliefs together with Connell's (1995) hierarchies of masculinity as ways to understand how male ELT teachers perceived their own masculinity within the ELT profession. It mainly explores the phenomenon of male teachers’ perceptions of their positioning and the ways these impact on their ELT practice. Being qualitative and phenomenological in its nature, the case-study reveals that whilst the ELT profession is perceived as favouring the female gender, male teachers as the minority gender found other significant roles to play within the school context, particularly in matters relating to masculinity such as school discipline and sports training. The study also reveals that the English Language subject in itself is viewed as a gender-neutral subject focussing on aspects of language skills and communication values. Data shows that the impact of feminisation and hegemonic masculinity might be damaging to male teachers’ self-perceived status within the ELT profession, despite participants’ neutral perception of English Language as a school subject. In other words, it is evident that teachers’ gendered beliefs affect their ELT practice in terms of stereotypes being either reinforced or challenged. Eventually, the male teachers believe that they could bring change to the ELT profession by working towards idealising a more gender-inclusive curriculum, adopting and extending Connell’s notion of masculinities through the ‘permissive male’ category, a category which accommodates both the hegemonic dominant types of masculinity as well being receptive and tolerant towards the traits of motherly care and love within teaching. The contribution of the project is twofold. It elucidates many factors influencing male teachers’ gendered beliefs and shows how they impacted upon their self-perceived masculinities. It readdresses some of the dilemma of these male teachers and thus, the contribution of the study travels beyond the individual and serves the broader educational context of Malaysia.