Towards inclusive teaching practice in science education in relation to gender and sexuality

Geoff R. MacFarlane, Gary Ellem, Kevin Markwell


In recent years, there has been recognition internationally of the value and importance of inclusive curriculum in tertiary teaching practice. Indeed, in the international literature there have been significant advances identifying what makes science education interesting, relevant, accessible and inclusive to all students, especially for women and those from culturally diverse backgrounds (Bianchini, Whitney, Breton, and Hilton-Brown 2002). Unfortunately, much of this work is not translated to current pedagogical practice in a tertiary science environment. The way in which concepts and activities are presented may marginalise or exclude particular students.

Less thought and consideration has been afforded to those students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or intersex. Is the way we present and examine biology and the natural world sensitive to an individual’s identity? (Good, Haffner and Peebles 2000; Snyder and Broadway 2004). We provide a series of examples where current pedagogies in biology may exclude or marginalise students in terms of gender and sexuality and provide a framework of contextual factors which encourage all students to engage and excel in a supportive environment within the biological sciences.

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