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Brian Donovan—Does High School Genetics Education Communicate an Essentialist Construal of Gender? | GES Colloquium

September 26, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Virtual Event

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Does High School Genetics Education Communicate an Essentialist Construal of Gender?

Brian Donovan, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, BSCS Science Learning In-Person

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Evidence suggests that high school biology textbooks in the US may reinforce an essentialist construal of gender.

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Essentialism is the lay assumption that categories of living things have underlying, unobservable “essences.” When applied to gender, this assumption has a range of negative consequences, including stereotyping and discrimination. In this talk, Dr. Brian Donovan will present evidence from a content analysis and a randomized control trial to suggest that high school biology textbooks in the US communicate an essentialist construal of sex and gender to students and that students grow in their gender essentialist thinking after reading such texts. Dr. Donovan will argue that rather than conveying accurate knowledge about the biological and social complexity of sex and gender, biology education in the US seems to instead promote messages consistent with gender essentialism.

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Speaker Bio

Brian M. Donovan is a senior research scientist at BSCS Science Learning, which is the oldest science education organization in the United States. He holds a B.A. in biology from Colorado College, a M.A. in teaching from the University of San Francisco, and a M.S. in biology and Ph.D. in science education from Stanford University. His research explores how genetics education interacts with social-cognitive biases to influence how students make sense of complex biological and social phenomena. By translating this research into frameworks that inform curriculum, instruction, and teacher education, Brian hopes to create a generation of researchers, teachers, and curriculum writers who know how to teach about human difference in a more humane manner. Brian’s award-winning educational research (e.g, The 2020 National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) Early Career Research Award, The 2017 & 2022 Research Worth Reading Awards from NARST) has been reported on in the United States (e.g., The New York Times, The Atlantic/Undark, & EdWeek) and abroad (e.g., BBC Radio, The Independent, & The Australian Broadcasting System). Currently, he is the principal investigator of four different NSF-funded research projects that explore the cognitive, social, and educational factors that link the learning of human genetics to reductions in racism, sexism, and deterministic worldviews that limit human potential. Before his research career in science education, Brian taught middle school science for seven years in San Francisco.

GES Colloquium is jointly taught by Drs. Jen Baltzegar and Dawn Rodriguez-Ward, who you may contact with any class-specific questions. Colloquium will be held in person in the 1911 Building, room 129, and live-streamed via Zoom.

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September 26, 2023
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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1911 Building, Room 129 (North Campus)
10 Current Dr.
Raleigh, NC United States
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