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


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


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

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.