The Gender Politics of Educational Change

The Gender Politics of Educational Change

The Gender Politics of Educational Change

The Gender Politics of Educational Change


What is the relationship of gender to the micropolitics of school reform? Using case studies from three schools, this book offers the first analysis of gender in the school reform literature.


A Framework for Understanding the Gender Politics of Educational Change

This chapter situates this book about the gender politics of educational change within extant research on the following three areas: school change, gender and teaching, and the micropolitics of schools. I start with a review of the research on school change and how it contributes to our knowledge of the meaning of reform for teachers. I then review the significance of the culture of the school and existing power relationships among individuals in shaping the school change process. I argue that the literature on the school change process oversimplifies the role of teacher agency in reform and portrays culture as monolithic and shared, downplaying the importance of the micropolitical struggles that may ensue as teachers with varying ideologies grapple with reform. Most importantly, I critique the inattention to gender in the school change literature, arguing that what we have learned about the role of gender in teachers’ work lives is significant in shaping the process of school change.

To round out my review, I use a micropolitical perspective which focuses on the conflict between interest groups, ideological diversity, and political action to address the power and politics of school reform. I propose that we understand gender politics by looking at the politics of representation, the competition among factions over the meaning of objects or events. the key to the politics of representation is the connection between power and discourse. Taken together with the literature on school change and gender, this provides the necessary framework to explain the role of gender politics in affecting reform.

I now turn to a discussion of the school change literature, focusing on the powerful assumptions about teacher agency in creating successful school reform.

Assumptions about Teacher Agency in School Reform

Teachers are considered by most policymakers and school change experts as the centerpiece of educational change. Therefore, not surprisingly, most reform efforts are directed at teachers, and the involvement

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