New Nordic web page about gender in teacher education

By on 22.12.2015 in Funding

Gender studies, addressed in relation to other dimensions of difference and (in)justice, is one of the foci in the studies of the Nordic Centre of Excellence JustEd. Many of the best known Nordic researchers in this field are JustEd members, one of them being Ylva Odenbring, who recently was promoted to Associate Professor of Education at the University of Gothenburg. Ylva is a member of the group who received funding from NordForsk for a spin-off project about Gender in Teacher Education.

“We will build a Nordic web page for teacher education and their students with resources for gender awareness in teaching,” says Ylva.

The inspiration for the emerging Nordic webpage is the Finnish site, which is a result of the latest Finnish national project on gender awareness in teacher education (2008–2011), led by Professor Elina Lahelma.

“Even though these issues have been discussed for a long time, we knew for a fact that in most universities it was possible to become a teacher without knowing anything about the responsibilities that gender equality legislation puts to teachers or about the excellent gender studies that have been conducted in Finland and elsewhere,” says Elina, who is one of the pioneers in the Nordic gender and education studies and one of the leaders of the spin-off project Gender in Teacher Education.

Professor Elina Lahelma is one of the pioneers in Nordic gender studies.

Professor Elina Lahelma is one of the pioneers in Nordic gender and education studies.

“It has really helped them”

The need of inclusion of a gender equality perspective in teacher education had been known for a long time. Many teacher educators were interested in doing work about gender and education, but didn’t have enough resources to e.g. help students who were interested in writing their thesis about gender and education.

“One of the first things we did in the TASUKO-project in Finland was creating a web page, which includes a bibliography about the research that has been done in the field, articles, definitions of important contexts, useful links etc. This website has turned out to be important for many teacher educators, and has really helped them,” says Elina.

During the project Elina and her team organized symposia and meetings with colleagues from other countries, and it was evident that the situation was similar in other countries.

A joint Nordic webpage

“Gender is an issue that teachers express that they try to encounter every day in their daily communication with their students. Despite this there are still many challenges, not at least to challenge gender stereotypes. What is needed is more aware thinking about gender, learning to know when gender is relevant, when do teacher have to pay attention to gender, and when there is something else that’s relevant, e.g. social class, ethnicity,” says Ylva Odenbring.

Gender equality in education has been a world-wide mission since the 1970s with numerous international resolutions and projects. Nordic countries, as well, have a long tradition of collaboration in projects on gender equality in education and teacher education since the 1980s.

“We have a common history in working with these questions in the Nordic countries. I think it will be easier for teacher educators to get an insight in other Nordic countries through this webpage. It’s probably most common to try to find research that’s carried out in their own country, and they are not aware of what’s going on in neighboring countries,” says Ylva.

She is looking forward to getting started with the project.

“Our aim is to try to reach educators regarding gender awareness in teacher education. For teacher educators it would be very fruitful with a clear webpage where they can find recent articles, text books and texts written by different researchers in different genres, and from different Nordic countries,” Ylva says.

The emerging Nordic web page will include studies from all the Nordic countries, conducted in the Nordic languages as well as in English.

Challenges a head

One of the bigger challenges the project is facing is how to protrude in the multitude of websites targeting teachers and teacher educators.

“There are so many webpages, so much information available, nevertheless, I have feeling this webpage will be different. Mainly, because it is based on theoretical understanding of gender and is above all targeting teacher educators, and students interested in bringing in the gender perspective in their thesis. This kind of Nordic web page doesn’t exist – yet,” says Elina Lahelma.

The project is to start in February, and is a joint effort of JustEd teams 2, 3, 4 and 6. The focus will in the beginning be on two JustEd partner universities: Helsinki and Gothenburg. Members of the steering group based in Helsinki are PhD student Jenni Helakorpi, Professor Elina Lahelma, associate professor Sirpa Lappalainen and Professor Liisa Tainio, and members in Gothenburg are associate professor Ann-Sofie Holm, associate professor Ylva Odenbring and Professor Elisabet Öhrn. Professor Gaby Weiner from the University of Essex will bring the perspective from the UK.

If you wish to learn more about the project, head to the upcoming NERA Congress in Helsinki, where the group arranges a paper session and a round table based on gender and gender awareness in teacher education.


Read more:

Lahelma, Elina (2011) Gender Awareness into Teacher Education: An Impossible Mission? Education Inquiry. 2(2), 263-276.

Lahelma, Elina & Hynninen, Pirkko (2012) Gender equality in Finnish teacher education – with reflections from Nordic and European collaboration, In: Strand, Torill & Merethe Roos (eds.) Education for Social Justice, Equity and Diversity. A Honorary Volume for Professor Anne-Lise Arnesen. Studies on Education Vol. 1. Berlin-Munster-Wien-Zurich-London: Lit Verlag, 109-130.

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About the Author

About the Author: Journalist currently working as Communications Specialist at the Nordic Centre of Excellence "Justice through Education in the Nordic countries" and in NordForsk's programme "Education for Tomorrow". .


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