University of Leicester
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Gender issues in communication education - A Malaysian case-study.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 09:12 authored by Shanthi. Ambigapathy
This study is concerned with the politics of gender formations and the role of communication media in the perpetuation of different and changing forms of patriarchal power and of women's oppression, and communication education as one crucial site for both professional socialisation into gendered values in mass communication practice and for re-visioning these values and assumptions that sustain hegemonic masculinity. The major argument here is that gender scholarship is essential to both understanding and undermining patriarchal devices which oppress women. In Malaysia, communication education is offered at the level of higher education - an important site for producing potential communication professionals. In this connection, it is important to examine communication education programmes to understand more precisely the gender composition of faculty staff, tutors' views towards gender issues and the significance accorded to the study of gender in communication courses. This study has advanced that the curriculum which forms the foundation of the educational system is socially constructed and that the relevant context has to give attention to both the socio-cultural and structural setting. At the socio-cultural level, this study has highlighted the 'state-centric' nature of Malaysia -- the ongoing interests of patriarchy, the functioning of global market forces and the collaboration of local and foreign governments that work in complex ways to perpetuate the subordination of women. It has further been observed that the Malaysian social-cultural milieu is one that grants ethnicity as a principle factor in the re-structuring of social relations and development activities. Gender criticism occupies a marginal position and the state development policies have not directly promoted the interests of women. At the structural level, taking the case-study of the USM Communication Programme, this study has revealed patterns of male domination within its formal organisation structure. A major problem arises in a general lack of understanding where most tutors still fail to appreciate the effects of gender oppression and differentiation, and perhaps more seriously, they often fail to recognise these issues as problematic. A study of communication courses has shown that gender issues are largely excluded from discussion through the choice of topics in course syllabus, in the selection of issues in examination papers and in the selection of reference materials. This has created a major gap in the curriculum -- a silence which leaves gender issues unheard in the study of communication. In the wake of the above findings, this study has attempted to outline some initial directions, immediate strategies and priorities for a gender agenda in communication education. In particular, the study has presented syllabus guidelines that chart some fruitful lines of inquiry that can contribute towards gender conscientisation and empowerment.


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University of Leicester

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  • Doctoral

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  • PhD



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