Perceived gender-based challenges endured by Zimbabwean secondary school girls in their academic and occupational prospects
Keywords:Gender-role stereotyping, career trajectories, hidden culture curriculum, teacher attitudes and expectations
This study explores and unmasks factors in the Zimbabwean school curricula that predispose or channel girls into particular occupational trajectories, in particular occupations or careers traditionally stereotyped as feminine. As a qualitative research study of the culture of the schooling system within this country, it employs the views of a sample size of 20 Sixth Form girls who were purposively selected. The study also examines the impact of the pupils’ gender and their teacher attitudes and expectations towards them as girls on their resultant career trajectories. The design adopted is an exploratory case study that utilises the focus group interview for data collection from four secondary schools conveniently sampled from the Ngezi District of Zimbabwe. The study establishes that as part of the hidden culture and curriculum, teachers’ perceptions, attitudes and expectations of pupils’ gender roles exert a significant influence on their academic achievement and career aspirations. This study concludes that effective intervention strategies are an imperative if the Zimbabwean school curriculum is to be made gendersensitive.