A Reconstruction of the Gender Agenda: The Contradictory Gender Dimensions in New Labour’s Educational and Economic Policy

Citation:

Arnot, Madeleine, and Philip Miles. 2005. “A Reconstruction of the Gender Agenda: The Contradictory Gender Dimensions in New Labour’s Educational and Economic Policy”. Oxford Review of Education 31 (1): 173-89.

Authors: Madeleine, Arnot, Philip Miles

Abstract:

This article reviews current interpretations of Labour's education policy in relation to gender. Such interpretations see the marginalisation of gender equality in mainstream educational policy as a result of the discursive shift from egalitarianism to that of performativity. Performativity in the school context is shown to have contradictory elements ranging from an increased feminisation of teaching and the (re)masculinisation of schooling. Also, whilst underachievement is defined as ‘the problem of boys’, the production of hierarchical masculinities and ‘laddishness’ by marketised schools is ignored. The policy shift towards performativity also masks girls' exclusion and the disadvantages working‐class girls face within the education system. The rhetoric of gender equality, although stronger in the field of post‐16 training and employment, is no less contradictory. The effects of New Labour are found in the aggravation of social class divisions within gender categories and the spiralling differences between male and female paths. Gender equality ideals in education are therefore shown to have a far more complex relationship to New Labour politics than previously thought.

Topics: Education, Gender, Gendered Power Relations

Year: 2005

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