Trinity College Dublin , 28 th – 30 th March 2007.
The conference’s theme, Gender Balance/Gender Bias, drew a wide array of interesting papers and participants to Dublin in what was a lively and stimulating conference. The conference was organised collaboratively by the School of Education and Lifelong Learning, University College Dublin and the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies, Trinity College Dublin. The Provost of Trinity College, Dr. John Hegarty, welcomed delegates to the conference and introduced Ireland ‘s Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin, who officially opened the proceedings.
The four plenary speakers reflected the diversity of the conference papers, each addressing different issues in the field of gender and education. The first speaker, Professor Sheelagh Drudy of University College Dublin, gave a presentation entitled ‘Gender Balance/Gender Bias: Teaching, Teacher Education and Professionalism in Changing International Environments’. Professor Drudy’s presentation focused on the changing international context of education and universities and the potential impact of globalisation tendencies on the future of teacher education. The second plenary address was given by Professor Mineke Van Essen of the University of Gronigen on the subject of ‘Femininity as Pitfall: a Historical Perspective on the Strategies of Professional Women in Education’. Reflecting on the lives of female educationalists of the past two centuries, Professor van Essen explored the difficulties and challenges experienced by women in professional education settings. Professor Rebecca Rogers of the University of Paris 5 (Sorbonne) gave the third plenary speech was entitled ‘Thinking about Gender Balance and Bias in the Colonial Context: Women Teachers, Islam and the Education of Muslim Girls in French Algeria in the 19 th Century’. This paper reflected upon the colonial history of education and the complex interaction between religious and cultural issues with inequalities between men and women. The final plenary speech by the Honourable Justice Sydney Hanlon, Dorchester County District Court, closed the conference. Justice Hanlon’s presentation on education initiatives to combat gender based violence looked at the issue both in the context of the United States and internationally.
A total of 144 presentations were given over the three days of the conference on themes ranging from primary school teaching and learning, secondary school subject choice and behaviours, to gender issues at third level , in addition to wider considerations on gender policies in the educational sector and the academy. There were also papers addressing the community/youth work aspects of education whereby education occurs in non-traditional environments.
In all there were almost 200 delegates from 25 different countries ranging from Japan to Canada , with strong representation as expected from the UK , Ireland and the US . Delegates included both practitioners and educational theorists which made for an interesting mix in the question times.