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DIJ Social Science Study Group


Gender socialization at primary school in contemporary Japan

29.01.2014 | 18:30

Aline Henninger, INALCO, Waseda University


Coeducation for girls and boys in Japan was enacted and implemented by the 1947 Basic Law of Education which was revised in 2006 during the first Abe government. However, coeducation does by no way mean gender equality in education. 

During the 1970s, Japanese feminist researchers and social scholars realized how school administration, school system and national curricula were gender-biased to a large extent. Since then, women’s studies (joseigaku) and gender studies (jendâgaku) have been trying to understand all the effects of this “hidden curriculum” (kakureta karikyuramu), and have been explaining how the gender bias in education is linked with gender discrimination at work and gendered employment structures.

But how is gender discrimination still taking place at schools even today? Based on fieldwork conducted in several primary schools in Honshû, my PhD research is about understanding how boys and girls are socialized during the early stage of primary education. Put in another way, what is the model of “the little girl” and “the little boy” which is implemented during childhood, and how do the children deal with these gendered norms? I will introduce the theoretical and methodological framework of my research and present the first results after three months of fieldwork, including findings of interviews with children and teachers and participant observation in gender equality research groups and sex education research groups organized by primary school teachers.

Aline Henniger graduated from Sorbonne University (Master of International Relations) and INALCO (Master of Japanese Language). Currently, she is in her second year as a PhD candidate at the French National University for Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO, Paris). She is research fellow at the Gender Studies Research Center of Waseda University in 2013-2014. Her PhD research is about gender socialization, and she is conducting fieldwork in several primary schools.

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Koordination: Carola Hommerich; Phoebe Stella Holdgrün


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