Page: 406-416 Author: Moravcová-Smetáčková, I. Key words:
The article explores the way teachers perceive the gender strategies used by families in communications with schools, and places the gender issue in wider context. Social institutions and organisations are regarded as universal, impersonal and unaffected by gender influences, but since the existence of institutions and organisations is secured and maintained by specific people wh9 have a particular gender, gender influences cannot be entirely avoided. Gender influences the operations of an organisation at several different levels (physical structuring of the space, symbolic and practical division of activities and so on). Gender becomes particularly important in the case of an organisation consisting mainly of women or of men. The definition of the profession they follow usually incorporates some gender aspects, and in this way distances the organisation from the ideal of impersonal institutions. The strongly feminised nursery and basic school system is a good example. In social discourse what is emphasised is the need for a loving, material approach to children, which is in line with the traditional content of the female gender role and a priori associated with women. This potentially complicated communication between such an institution and the others, since the actors have a tendency to exploit gender stereotypes in their behaviour. Negotiation, or bargaining, is typical of relations between family and school. The aim of the negotiation is to present the other party with your own side’s interpretation of the situation, especially when one or the other side sees the situation as one of conflict. In a conflict both sides try to get the advantage and to do so they make use of gender strategies as well as others (in the most usual case, instead of the mother it is the father who comes to negotiate with women-teachers - or in some cases male teachers - and acts differently with them, i.e. from a position of so-called “male authority”). From the family’s point of view these strategies are aimed at displacing teachers from their professional role by trying to introduce the gender optic to undermine the original institutional advantage of the school over the family. The use of these strategies is usually considered unpleasant by teachers, especially women teachers. In situations where gender strategies are exploited, professional identity may cease to be a basis for negotiations on the side of the teacher, and personal identity, part of which is gender identity, comes into play. At this moment communications starts to be governed by the rules based on gender stereotypes. The fact that women teachers perceive the shift in communication with the parentfather in the direction of reference to gender roles may have various different levels and results in practical negotiation or thinking on the problem - from changes made to appearance and a tendency to flirt, to fears of male dominance, from determination not to be dislodged from professional role to appeal to a representative of management to join the negotiation. The gender aspects of communication between family and school as a socialising institution have hitherto been neglected in research, The conclusions of research projects conducted with different aims and the first surveys focused directly on the theme nonetheless show that it is a relevant issue with important implications in the real world of teaching. The article therefore presents several findings from a thematic questionnaire survey that the author carried out on a sample of 800 teachers as an illustration of her theoretical exploration of gender strategies in communication between family and school.