April’s #AIESEPConnect Friday April 26th at 12 noon CEST

“Everyone is Treated Equally”: Polish PE Teachers’ Perception and Meanings of Gender in PE

Natalia Organista, Zuzanna Mazur, and Michal Lenartowicz

In this AIESEP Connect event, we will present some of our findings from the project “Gender in PE Practice.” Drawing on M. Foucault’s theory, we aimed to analyze the opinions of Polish PE teachers regarding gender equality in connection to education and PE, as well as the prevailing gender-related discourses in PE teaching practice. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted with 16 female and 19 male PE teachers working in public upper-secondary schools. Despite focusing mainly on the exploring of teachers’ practices in the presentation, we will also refer to the results of observations conducted in schools and the study of physical education teacher educators’ perception of gender issues.

Despite the research conducted in the field of gender issues and education in Poland, the prevailing gendered discourses in the practice of PE have not been studied so far. Our study aimed to partially fill this gap. In Poland, PE teachers do not formally acquire knowledge on the significance of gender equality in the education process. No policies are formulated on teaching gender equality in schools. In recent years, a political movement with a strong anti-gender equity agenda has been sweeping through Poland (Graff and Korolczuk, 2022), which has resulted in gender-sensitive education not only being unwelcome but also openly discouraged in and outside school settings. Hence, we believe that analyzing gender relations during PE classes in Poland, where no specific gender equity legislation has been introduced, is an intriguing case study and complements the ongoing discussion regarding prevailing gender structures in PE.

The findings revealed discrepancies between teachers’ declared equal treatment of students and their actual practices. From their statements, it often appeared that they believed female and male teachers excel more in teaching different sports disciplines, and students’ gender influences the activities they propose in classes. The participants did not problematize the dominant patterns of femininity and masculinity, and their behaviors sometimes reinforced them. They mainly interpreted differences in students’ behavior in class through the discourse of gender differences.

Responses to questions about understanding gender equality were often difficult for the participants, and they frequently struggled to identify how gender equality relates to PE lessons. However, they most commonly associated gender equality with treating everyone ‘the same’. Most of them did not perceive any manifestations of unequal treatment of students or transmission of gender stereotypes.

Our study highlights the need for PE teachers to learn how gender operates in school environments and PE classes and the impact this has on students. Insufficient knowledge reinforces unequal practices during PE lessons. The reliance on the discourse of ‘sameness’ hinders the change of this situation.

Everyone is welcome!

Meeting URL: https://deakin.zoom.us/j/81830847488?from=addon
Meeting ID: 818 3084 7488
Passcode: 48215171



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AIESEP was founded in Lisbon in 1962, with the intent of bringing together scholars in the field of physical education and sport to share knowledge and engage in quality research.

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