ABSTRACT. The goal of this study was to unmask the gendered nature of the Zimbabwean school curriculum showing how structure, agency and the curriculum impact on girls’ career aspirations by predisposing them towards particular occupations. In pursuit of this aim an exploratory sequential mixed methods research design genre was adopted with a total sample size of 20 participants, comprising sixth form school girls and an equal number of high school teachers, who were purposefully and systematically sampled from four schools in the greater Harare Education district. The data were gathered through qualitative focus group discussion interviews (FGDI) and the quantitative structured closed-ended questionnaire from the girls and the school teachers respectively. Data analysis involved a thematic approach coupled with statistical summary tables, frequency counts and percentage convergences of phenomena. Reporting the findings entailed both thematic and descriptive statistical approaches with the themes emerging from the coding process being classified into code families that formed the basis of the presentation and discussion of findings. Key findings included that despite longstanding debates and the re-enactment in 2014 of the National Gender Equity Policy in Zimbabwe, the problem of gender inequity in education and occupation is far from being resolved. The chief conclusion was that the school curriculum continues to reproduce gender disparities through teacher attitudes and expectations of their pupils’ gender. Curricular material used in schools also compound the gender role biases, ideologies, stereotypes and prejudices culminating in the polarization of not only the school subjects but also the occupational trajectories along gender lines. The recommendations made included that teachers need to play an important role in closing the ranks created by the gender role stereotyping of girls in the home and those incorporated in the school curriculum through teacher attitudes and expectations and all other facets of the hidden school curriculum.

Keywords: hidden curriculum; masculinity; femininity; gender role stereotypes

How to cite: Mutekwe, Edmore (2018). “Structure, Agency and Curricular Influences on Girls’ Occupational Aspirations: The Zimbabwean Experiences,” Journal of Research in Gender Studies 8(2): 29–54.

Received 7 November 2017 • Received in revised form 30 December 2017
Accepted 4 January 2018 • Available online 25 January 2018


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