As a part of the World Perspectives Program all 9th-grade students are taking part in a series of seminars that expose them to pressing contemporary global issues over the course of the 2011-2012 school year. As Mr. Andrew Jones describes in his October 20, 2011 post about the water resource allocation seminar, “the students have taken to this program with typical vigor and enthusiasm, but quickly realized that simple solutions would not win the day.” The same could be said about our recent discussions about the possible correlations between the degree of gender equality in a given country and the rate at which its economy has grown over the years.
Students met with eight different GFA faculty members and began by discussing their thoughts on the following questions:
Do you think that there is a correlation between reproduction and democracy?
Why might a family or a woman have many children?
What are some factors that might lead to a reduction in average family sizes?
How might the level of women’s education affect the overall economy of a given country?
What countries do you think have the highest percentage of women participating in their workforces?
How do most American families decide whether both parents will work or one of the two parents will stay home with children?
Do you think that families in other parts of the world go through a similar decision process? How might it be different?
The students then broke up into small groups in order to to analyze a series of graphs that we generated through gapminder.org’s amazing software (Graph 1: Children per Woman vs. Democracy Score; Graph 2: Female Literacy Rates vs. GDP Per Person; Graph 3: Women of Reproductive Age in the Workforce vs. Time). They were given a series of more specific guiding questions to accompany each graph. The questions asked them to consider any information in the graph that may have contradicted their initial assumptions. In addition, students were pushed to consider the limitations of the data provided and to decide whether certain relationships represented correlation or causation. In short, each 9th-grader was a part of two 50-minute discussions on the relationship between gender equality and economic development. The students’ enthusiasm and interest were exceptional, and we look forward to working with them on our contemporary disease and epidemic seminar in March.