Education International
Education International

Spain: Education for equality

published 4 June 2010 updated 22 March 2011

The Spanish union FETE-UGT has launched an awareness campaign on gender equality. Developed on the back of an agreement with the Ministry for Equality, it aims to open up new spaces for dialogue and debate on gender equality issues, while providing teachers with specific tools to address the issues across all disciplines and age groups.

In spite of education reform and the introduction of mixed schools, there are still obstacles to gender equality in Spain. Sexist attitudes and values continue to influence personal development and career choices, limiting women's participation in all areas. This expression, in its most extreme form, can result in gender violence. One symptom of inequality is the hierarchical segregation in the education system, where women are still a minority among senior managers and policymakers: rectors, heads of department, and directors of educational establishments, as well as among teachers at secondary and university level.

Several studies have shown that the career options available to female and male students are still largely oriented towards fields associated with traditional gender roles. A case in point is vocational training, where courses relating to healthcare, social work, education or fashion and personal image are still mostly attended by women, whereas courses such as telecommunications, automotive studies, and electrical and mechanical engineering are preferred by boys. The percentage of women studying architecture and technical engineering at university level is just above 25%, and that of women working in the architecture and higher engineering sectors is 30%. On the other hand, more than 80% of social work students and 91% of speech therapy students are women.

On-line teaching materials: a virtual library

The teaching materials developed for the campaign ‘Educating for Equality’ include guidebooks for teachers as well as for students at primary, secondary and tertiary level. Available in the official languages of the Spanish State (Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Basque), the guides cover different aspects of education on gender issues. They will be distributed to more than 50,000 educational establishments and can be downloaded free of charge from the campaign's website.

The ‘Educating for Equality’ website also provides theoretical and practical materials, classified by subject area, including teaching suggestions and strategies for implementing gender equality across the education system.

Furthermore, users of the website will be able to request advice from educational psychologists and educators on issues concerning gender equality and education, the prevention of violence against girls and women in educational establishments, training for co-education, the development of gender equality curricula in schools, and other aspects of the project.

This article was published in Worlds of Education, Issue 34, June 2010.