Great expectations and post-feminist accountability: Young women living up to the 'successful girls' discourse

Joanne Baker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    66 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The prevalence of the discourse of 'successful girls' (and failing boys) in Australia and internationally has been widely documented. Against the much-vaunted lifting of barriers to opportunity for girls and women, it might reasonably be expected that their educational experiences and career paths are expressive of wider opportunities, greater confidence and autonomy. This article draws on qualitative research with young women in regional Australia to argue that supposedly outmoded but evidently durable patterns of educational and occupational experience remain and are accompanied by new burdens and anxieties. Importantly, young women are now obliged to account for these unfashionable arrangements, using the ubiquitous belief in choice and the possibility of self-actualisation to demonstrate the volition and agency deemed appropriate to a post-feminist ethos. Thus, techniques of reflective selfhood and neoliberal accountability are mobilised to justify social reproduction, while at the same time showcasing invigorated notions of meritocracy and social mobility.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalGender and Education
    Volume22
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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