"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou
How do fearless girls feel about economics?
If economics as a discipline is gender-blind does that mean that the economics classroom is gender-blind too? How does this make girls feel in an economics classroom? What can we do about it?
Economic modelling relies on self-centred independent individuals, and positions households as homogeneous decision-making units in the market. A more gender-inclusive approach to economics recognises how women and men act on their feelings which cannot be explained by homo economicus. The way we relate to one another is through our mutual interdependence in and out of the market. If fearless girls are sitting in a classroom where economic modelling identifies the main decision-maker of the household as being in paid work and contributing to GDP and neglects to consider other aspects, what role is that giving women? What role do girls see themselves in when they are being presented with a neo-classical economic model?
If in our classrooms we rely on explaining behaviour solely through a utility-maximising model, we might be leaving girls out of the conversation. If they are considering where care provision is in the model and can't find it, they may be feeling left out.
Outside factors, such as misinformation and poor access to understanding economics is limiting interest in economics. Internally some influences such as the high stakes testing environment of the HSC and a selective, elitist attitude to economics in schools is also turning girls away. The subject itself when limited to a neo-classical model is not speaking to girls as it is gender-blind. With less girls in the economics classroom asking questions, the fearless girls left may be feeling that they are not seen or heard. The problems are compounding the dynamic around economics. This study points out what individual teachers can do in their classrooms:
Get girls talking first.
As teachers we are aware of what makes great teaching. Coe, Aloisi, Higgins, & Major (2014) offer the following:
Coe, R., Aloisi, C., Higgins, S., & Major, L. (2014). What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research. Washington, D. C.
Fischer, L., Hasell, J., Proctor, J. C., Uwakwe, D., Ward-Perkins, Z., & Watson, C. (Eds.). (2018). Rethinking Economics: An Introduction to Pluralist Economics. New York, NY: Routledge.