Gender Inequality Beyond the Gender Binary: A ?Gender Predictive? Approach
Joel Mittleman

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Notre Dame

Primary Discipline

America?s rapidly expanding college gender gap has refocused public attention on the underachievement of boys. Although scholars have long argued that boys? academic engagement is undercut by dominant masculinity norms, these norms have been largely invisible in quantitative research. Instead, researchers have been restricted to documenting disparities by binary sex, collapsing the entire gender spectrum into a 0 or 1. This binary approach erases the experiences of students who do not adhere to gender norms and is increasingly out-of-step with how gender is understood today. This project provides a way to move beyond this binary framework. Analyzing four decades of high school cohort studies, I will use machine learning to quantify the extent to which students? survey responses conform with the gender norms reported by their peers. By directly measuring gender norms, it becomes possible to analyze students throughout the gender spectrum: both those who adhere strongly to gender norms and those who depart radically from them. Across six separate cohorts, I will use this ?gender predictive? approach to analyze students? social, academic and economic outcomes. Reanalyzing these old data in an entirely new way, I will advance a timely new account of masculinity and the rising gender gap in education.
About Joel Mittleman
Meixi is a Hokchiu daughter-sister-scholar, learning scientist, former middle school math teacher from Singapore who also grew up with Lahu community in northern Thailand. Growing up navigating languages and knowledge systems across mangrove forests and highland mountains, Meixi?s work is centered on an enduring concern: how can schools contribute to the collective livelihoods and future wellbeing of Indigenous young people, families, and the lands and waters where they live? Her pursuit of this question interweaves comparative education with learning sciences, and through studying micro-moments of interaction in relation to macro-global sociopolitical and ecological phenomena. For over the past decade, Meixi has worked with teachers, families, and young people to design Indigenous-led public schools from within Indigenous relationalities and theories of learning in the Mekong, Upper Mississippi, and México. Meixi is centrally interested in studying the cultural, historical, political, ethical, and poetic dimensions of human learning and development as people move and meet across place towards more just and thriving socioecological futures. They are actively involved in designing intergenerational land-based learning systems that strengthen one?s ethical commitments to each other and the rest of the living world, and developing relational methodologies such as family storywalks and trans-Indigenous design research. Meixi earned her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Human Development from the University of Washington and her B.S. in Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Comparative and International Education Development in the department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development at the University of Minnesota. 

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