The long-standing relationship between social disadvantage and poor educational outcomes continues to preoccupy educational policy-makers, with teachers at the front line of the ongoing struggle. Across the range of equity concerns, gender may be noted as either qualifying disadvantage or compounding it, but the meaning of gender as a simple binary category is rarely challenged. Using data drawn from a study in three disadvantaged urban fringe Australian high schools we argue that the policy-driven gender-as-difference approach can serve to mask educational inequality rather than to challenge it. By demonstrating the ways in which the girls and their teachers respond to, interpret and understand their schooling experience, we suggest the enriched capacity of a relational theory of gender that, while inclusive of earlier theoretical moments and cognisant of progress made, does offer a more coherent and potentially redemptive basis for educational intervention.
- educational disadvantage
- relational theory of gender