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Diversity Toolkit: Gender

Found in: Teaching Strategies

Gender, often used interchangeably with sex, refers to differences between boys and girls or between men and women. Gender, however, is broader than sex in that it encompasses not only biological sex but personal and societal identity, feelings, appearance, expressions, and behavior that collectively define what is male or female.

Main Issues

Gender is an important issue in schools. Since 1972, Title IX (20 U.S.C. §1681) has mandated equal treatment on the basis of sex in schools receiving federal assistance. Title IX has been invoked to create parity in sports programs for girls and women and to address sex discrimination.

Disparities exist between boys and girls in achievement and graduation. Girls and boys often perform differently depending on the subject, and scholars have noted that stereotypes and bias may inform how boys and girls are taught. Opinions differ on whether boys or girls may benefit from single sex as opposed to coed education. In recent years, girls have outpaced boys in matriculation at postsecondary schools. Bullying and sexual harassment affect both girls and boys in school. Both girls and boys may also be harassed because their gender expression does not conform to societal norms of what is feminine or masculine. Sex bias and discrimination may also play a role in the composition and salaries of male and female teachers in K-12 classrooms, administrative and higher education positions.


  • Reduce sexual harassment and bullying in schools through curriculum and intervention
  • Protect gender-nonconforming youth from harm
  • Monitor disparities between boys and girls in academic achievement
  • Encourage equal treatment of boys and girls in the classroom
  • Organize to achieve equal hiring, salaries, and promotion based on sex.

Related Links

Send an e-mail for information about the NEA Sexual Harassment and Bullying Program or the NEA Women and Girls Program.


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