Threshold concepts are discipline-specific theories that focus on understanding a particular subject to transform learners’ perception and views of certain content. A threshold concept varies from the core concepts since core concepts are conceptual components that facilitate understanding a particular subject, which learners must understand. However, they do not give a varying qualitative view on the subject. Threshold concept theory deepens an individual’s understanding of a particular concept by providing a framework for studying characteristics related to the particular subject. In women and gender studies, threshold concept theories include feminism theory, standpoint theory, multiculturalism, intersectionality and transnational feminism. These theories are effective in analysing the social understanding of gender-related practices like gender roles and women leadership.
The threshold concepts were very striking to me due to their ability to explain the various theories of women and gender studies. By the end of the class, I understood and related the significant issues concerning women and gender-related issues. I, therefore, agreed with (Lutz et al. Pp. 200), which states that thresholds concepts are the most effective way of delivering complex social issues due to its simplified framework of delivering concept. Threshold concepts are effective in delivering content from their five significant characteristics. These characteristics include irreversibility, transformative, integrative, troublesome, and boundedness (Launius et al. Pp. 118). The irreversibility feature of threshold concepts ensures that once a student grasps a particular concept, they cannot change their perception into a different perception. The threshold concepts are also transformative; hence they can change the general perception of the student on a particular issue. The integrative property ensures that the student can relate several theories and issues concerning a particular topic. The threshold concept can also be troublesome since it can create intellectual wrangles as the student strives to replace their previous knowledge with the presently introduced concepts. Finally, threshold concepts are bounded since they provide a clear distinction existing in a particular discipline, enabling the student to think through the topic in a bold perspective.
In our class work on women and gender studies, the threshold concepts enabled me to clearly understand women’s societal perception from a feminist understanding while analysing the lives of various prominent women. They facilitated the analysis of social and cultural perceptions of gender while examining the privileges they enjoyed as women and also the oppressions they underwent as society considered them inferior beings. Through their integrative characteristic, I understood why most women occupied lower positions in the past while holding on to the traditional view of their responsibility and understand the chauvinistic perception of gender roles. Through the threshold concepts, it was easy to grasp several theories related to women and gender studies, including the feminism theory and intersectionality.
The threshold concepts simplified the understanding of feminism theory where it enabled understanding of the critical concepts of feminism theory. These feminist concepts include equality, choice, difference, care, experience, and time(Launius et al. Pp. 36). Following increased efforts to empower women, I irreversibly understood the importance of advocating for gender equality in education systems, jobs, and leadership positions. Besides, the lessons transformed my mind to understand that women can compete equally with men in all areas of interest without gender bias. The threshold concepts also enabled me to understand the intersectionality concept of women and gender studies. Intersectionality refers to the analytical framework explaining the various aspects of individual social and political characteristics, including class, race, and gender (Pilcher et al. Pp. 236). The threshold concepts, therefore, defined the bounded relationship between racial discrimination and gender discrimination. Through the integrative nature of threshold concepts, I understood that the discrimination of women on inferiority stereotypes also happened with racial discrimination where the white people consider the black people to be inadequate and incompetent to occupy offices or leadership positions in political forums. I was also able to relate all the theories surrounding women and gender studies.
Following the understanding of women and gender studies, I can comfortably apply the theories I clearly understood through threshold concepts. For instance, I can participate in a women support programme that empowers women to rise above the traditional stereotypes on gender roles and responsibilities. Through my understanding of intersectionality, I can confidently stand against racial and gender-based stereotypes in my social and professional areas while advocating for equality in various issues, including elections and management issues. I can also deliver complex issues on gender issues surrounding women in our community hence building the women’s self-esteem and encouraging them to participate in social activities actively. Besides, I can encourage the schooling girls to actively participate in science, technology, mathematics and engineering subjects and traditionally left to men. This way, I will help all genders participate actively in the technological innovations emerging in different fields each day. Using threshold concepts, I will build their confidence in the subjects due to their transformative, integrative and irreversibility impact.
In conclusion, threshold concepts are specific theories of a particular subject that enables a clear understanding of the particular subject. In women and gender studies, these concepts include feminism theory, standpoint theory, multiculturalism, intersectionality and transnational feminism. These threshold concepts enable understanding of the social behaviours, attitudes and gender-based stereotypes that define a particular society. Through the threshold concepts, a student grasps the concepts of the topic of study due to their irreversibility, transformative, integrative, troublesome, and bounded characteristics. Hence, threshold concepts are the most effective way of teaching complex social issues such as gender and race.
Launius, Christie, and Holly Hassel. Threshold concepts in women’s and gender studies: Ways of seeing, thinking, and knowing. Routledge, 2018.
Lutz, Helma, Maria Teresa Herrera Vivar, and Linda Supik, eds. Framing Intersectionality: Debates on a multi-faceted concept in gender studies. Routledge, 2016.
Pilcher, Jane, and Imelda Whelehan. Critical concepts in gender studies. Sage, 2016.
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