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The social construction of gender in the practical arts Eyre, Linda 1992

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THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER INTHE PRACTICAL ARTSbyLINDA EYREB.HEc., Mount Saint Vincent University, 1980MA.HEd., Mount Saint Vincent University, 1985A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Social and Educational Studies)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIADecember, 1992© Linda Eyre, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature) Department of /1/e/W;til a(A/ &,(14/Crat•ettAL,16A-01414The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate lettpattf., /^/9 DE-6 (2/88)i iABSTRACTThis dissertation is a contribution to understandingthe relationship between schooling and gender inequality.The study explores how gender as a social relation isorganized and embedded in the daily experiences of classroomlife and in the discourses of people who dwell there. Thestudy deals with how classroom encounters contribute to thereproduction or transformation of gender categories and howstudents' and teachers' discursive practices build andsupport patriarchal structures. The study is grounded incritical education theory, feminist theory, and ethnographicresearch.The specific site for the study is the knowledge areadescribed as the Practical Arts, namely home economics andtechnical studies. The research is limited to a singleGrade 8, coeducational, home economics and technical studiesprogram in an inner-city, multi-ethnic, secondary school inwestern Canada. Evidence is based on participantobservation of classrooms, for one school year, with onegroup of students as they proceed through a combined homeeconomics and technical studies program. Evidence is alsoobtained through interviews with students and teachers.The study illustrates how classroom practices supportthe patriarchal structures of division of labour, violenceagainst women, and sexuality. The study shows how thestudents' and teachers' discursive practices produce girls111and women, and less powerful boys, in subordinate positionsand as objects of regulation. As well, students' previousexperiences in domestic and technical work, and classroomdiscourse, produce and support the division of labour. Thestudy shows how the conditions of teachers' work, theirauthoritarian, product oriented approach, and theirpowerful, institutional discourses grounded in biologicaland psychological development and equality of educationalopportunity, prevent them from challenging patriarchalstructures.Although the study shows how students and teachers areactively engaged in the production rather than thetransformation of traditional gender relations, it alsoshows how patriarchy is incomplete: there were divisionswithin gender categories and there were many contradictions.The study shows how power relations are not static - theyare constantly in process of negotiation, thereby openingpossibilities for social change.ivTABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract^ iiTable of Contents^ ivAcknowledgements viiI. INTRODUCTION^ 1A. Self-Reflexivity^ 6B. Organization 10II. REVIEW OF LITERATURE^ 14A. Gender Equity and Curriculum Literature^14B. Critical Educational Literature^201. Social Reproduction Theory 212. Social Reproduction Theory and Gender^233. Cultural Production Theory^ 264. Cultural Production Theory and Gender^28C. Gender and Home Economics and Technical Studies37III. DOING ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH^ 41A. Methodology^ 411. Theory 432. Relationship between the Researcher and theResearch/ed^ 443. Establishing Trustworthiness^48B. Method^ 521. The Setting^ 532. Observation 553. Interviews^ 57a) Teacher interviews.^ 58Vb)^Student interviews. 60c)^Informal interviews. 61C. In the Field 611. Entering 612. Watching and Listening 673. Talking 694. Making Sense 73IV. KNOWLEDGE AND COMPETENCE 79A. Students' Previous Gendered Experiences 801. Domestic Work 802. Technical Work 823.^Who Should Do Domestic and Technical Work? 84B. Classroom Experiences 911. Home Economics 932. Technical Studies 113C. Regulation and Positioning 123D. Summary 136V. SOCIAL RELATIONS OF THE CLASSROOM 139A. Best Friendships and Group Formation 139B. Domination and Harassment 1471. Verbal Harassment 1472. Silencing 1553.^Battering 165C. Heterosexual Relations/Policing Homosexuality 169D. The Body and Popular Culture 1761.^Fashion 176vi2. Dance^ 1823. Sport 1834. Computers^ 186E. Summary^ 188VI. TEACHERS' REFLECTIONS ON THEIR PRACTICE^190A. Teachers' Understandings of Gender Equity ^1901. Sameness/Difference^ 1962. Gender Sensitivity 201B. The Conditions of Teachers' Work^2041. Isolation^ 2042. Intensification of Teachers' Work^2093. Subject Enrolment^ 2154. Responsibilities 217a) Evaluation.^ 217b) Safety. 218C. The Dilemmas of Pedagogy^ 2191. Issues of Gender 2202. Issues of Culture^ 225D. Summary^ 229VII. THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER IN COEDUCATIONALHOME ECONOMICS AND TECHNICAL STUDIESCLASSROOMS^ 2331. Division of Labour^ 2362. Violence^ 2443. Sexuality 250VIII. CONCLUSION^ 259REFERENCES^ 271viiACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI am indebted to the students and teachers who allowedme into their classrooms and their lives. For theirwillingness to talk with me despite busy days and hecticschedules, I am extremely grateful.A special thank you to my advisor Jane Gaskell for herprompt, thorough, and insightful readings of early draftsand constructive suggestions. Her no-nonsense approach towriting - "Just do it!" - kept me going. I also want toexpress my appreciation to Linda Peterat for her friendshipand support throughout my doctoral program.I learned a great deal from conversations with othergraduate students and faculty members at the University ofBritish Columbia and the University of New Brunswick. Tothe people there, who provided political insights andfriendship, I am extremely grateful.For research funding, I acknowledge and thank theCanadian Home Economics Association, the University ofBritish Columbia Graduate Fellowship Program, and the SocialSciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.I especially want to thank my mother and my sister inEngland, and Alan and my friends in Nova Scotia who providedenjoyable and necessary breaks, enabling me to get thisdone.And to my mother and father who instilled in me adesire to learn, I am thankful. They probably neveranticipated that my education would enable me to say, in thewords of Valerie Walkerdine (1990), "You should never haveeducated us, the ordinary girls of the fifties, for we aredangerous" (p. 170).1CHAPTER 1INTRODUCTIONSchool policies and initiatives dealing with genderinequality have burgeoned in recent years. Typically,schools focus on correcting gender bias in student-teacherinteraction, eliminating sex stereotyping in school textsand resources, and balancing the ratio of female and malestudents in specific school subjects. Although these gainshave not come about without concerted efforts by feministteachers and parents (Weiner & Arnot, 1987), these solutionscan still allow traditional gender relations of dominationand subordination to flourish (Eichler, 1987; Martin, 1981;Sadker & Sadker, 1986; Spender, 1982; Tetreault, 1986).Mary O'Brien (1990) says solutions that deal with equalityof opportunity while avoiding equality of condition are"fundamentally patriarchal in theory and in practice" (p.12).Absent from strategies that deal mainly with issues ofaccess is an exploration of the relationship betweenclassroom practices, the formation of gender, andpatriarchal structures. Gender is a social, cultural,economic, and political construction of what it means to bea girl or a boy, a woman or a man. Gender is a socialprocess that ascribes characteristics and behaviours towomen and men according to their biological sex (Humm,1990).2Gender is also a lived experience, a way of being.Robert Connell (1987) argues that femininity and masculinityare not fixed - there are variations within gendercategories - but one kind or another becomes dominant. Heargues that although these are not necessarily the mostcommon patterns, they are kept in place through negotiation,coercion, control, and sometimes force. Valerie Walkerdine(1990) describes masculinity and femininity as "fictionslinked to fantasies deeply embedded in the social world" -fictions that become powerful forces of regulation when"inscribed in...powerful practices like schooling"(p. xiii). Walkerdine and Connell argue that individuals donot simply passively reproduce gender stereotypes. Rather,individuals are actively involved in the production ofgender relations.While women and men are equally trapped in gendercategories, the outcome for women is more serious. Womenexist in a hierarchical relation of subordination anddomination. Sylvia Walby (1990) writes:Women have entered the public sphere but not on equalterms. They are present in the paid workplace, thestate and public cultural institutions. But they aresubordinated within them. Further, theirsubordination, in the domestic division of labour,sexual practices, and as receivers of male violence,continues.^(p. 180)Women are not passive victims of their subordination,but those who resist face overt and subtle obstacles(Faludi, 1991), indicating how gender as a characteristic of3everyday life is "organized by and sustains theinstitutional process" (Smith, 1988, p. 70). In education,not only do women have to "claim" an education (Rich, 1979),but they are held back by institutional barriers, such asthe omission of women's experiences from the curriculum, alack of affordable day-care, and expressions of violencetowards women. The murder of thirteen women students andone woman clerical worker on December 6, 1989 at theUniversity of Montreal's school of engineering by a gunmanwho declared war on feminists (Malette & Chalouh, 1991),epitomized for many women how gender is a matter of life anddeath.This study examines how gender is socially constructedthrough schooling. The purpose is to discover how gender asa social relation is organized through student-student andstudent-teacher interaction in the social world of theclassroom. The study of gender as a social process linksclassroom practices with broader political, economic, andsocial conditions. The study deals with how classroomencounters contribute to the reproduction or transformationof gender categories and ultimately of social inequality.The specific site for this study is the knowledge areadescribed as the Practical Arts, namely home economics andtechnical studies. The study explores how the everyday lifeof individuals in the home economics and technical studiesclassroom shapes and is shaped by social relations of4gender. The research is limited to a single Grade 8,coeducational, home economics and technical studies programin an inner-city, multi-ethnic, secondary school. Evidenceis based on participant observation of classrooms, for oneschool year, with one group of students as they proceedthrough a combined home economics and technical studiesprogram. Evidence is also obtained through interviews withstudents and teachers.Home economics and technical studies are particularlyinteresting areas of study because they have a distincthistory with regard to gender. In the early 20th century,home economics and technical studies were strictly sexdifferentiated. Whereas other school subjects, forutilitarian reasons only, became coeducational (Lasser,1987), home economics and technical studies were excludedfrom the coeducational movement. This move reflected theideology of gender, delegating women and men to their"natural," separate, private and public spheres (Prentice etal., 1988).In the 1970s, in direct response to feminist concernsabout gender inequality and the role of schooling in thesexual division of labour, home economics and technicalstudies were promoted as coeducational subjects. Now manyschools require all junior high school students to take acoeducational home economics and technical studies program,organized on a rotational basis, for at least one school5year. Educators claim that requiring boys to take homeeconomics promotes male participation in homemaking andparenting activities and ultimately shared understanding ofthe value and meaning of work in the private sphere(Thompson, 1984). By involving girls in technical studies,educators aim to develop girls' technological competencethereby enhancing girls' technological literacy and theirattitudes toward the mathematical and physical sciences(Grant, 1983), and ultimately their participation in thepublic sphere. Little attention, however, has been paid tohow goals of gender equity through coeducation are realizedin coeducational home economics and technical studiesclassrooms.This dissertation, then, is a contribution tounderstanding the relationship between schooling and genderinequality. This study explores how gender as a socialrelation is organized and embedded in the daily experiencesof classroom life. It explores how students and teachersactively participate in the reproduction or transformationof gender relations. The study looks at how students andteachers shape and are shaped by patriarchal structures inthe social world of the classroom. Also, the studyrecognizes diversity of experience. Thus it is sensitive,6for example, to how "race" 1 and class enter into theorganization of gender.Self -ReflexivityThis study is openly ideological because it deals withinequality for women. Patti Lather (1991) argues thatself-reflexivity is essential when doing openly value-basedinquiry. Self-reflexivity involves providing details aboutthe researcher's personal investment in the study and inmaking explicit the assumptions that guide the research.My understanding of the experiences of students andteachers in this study was influenced by my being a white,heterosexual, middle-class, middle-aged, able-bodied womanof privilege. My whiteness and my age are especiallyrelevant to this study because the students were only 13 to16 years old, and they represented a variety of ethnic andcultural groups. And, my privileged position as an academicresearcher no doubt influenced my relationship with studentsand teachers. These dimensions of my being influenced thekinds of questions I asked and the kinds of things that Iobserved, and created blind-spots for other ways of beingand seeing.Also, I describe myself as a feminist. Although thereis not a universal conception of feminism, there are certain1"Race" is used here as a sociological concept not as abiological one. Whilst I recognize the use of the termreifies race and may be viewed as racist, I am using "race" toindicate a concept around which oppression exists.7values and beliefs shared by most people who would describethemselves as "feminist" (Mitchell & Oakley, 1986). Theyare: a) the belief that women are an oppressed group -because people oppress people this is morally wrong and canand must be changed. (This does not mean that all women'sexperiences of oppression are the same.); b) the belief thatthe personal is political - through shared personal accountsof women's everyday lives this oppression can and must benamed; and c) the need to develop a feminist consciousnessthrough which women come to understand their oppression andbecome cognizant of the contradictions between the old andthe new ways (Stanley & Wise, 1983).There are, however, many feminist theories of women'soppression. Although Hester Eisenstein (1984) writes of theshifting and blurring of categories over time, the threemost often identified are liberal, socialist, and radicalfeminisms (Cott, 1986; Descarries-Belanger & Roy, 1991;Donovan, 1985; Eisenstein, 1984; Tong, 1989). At the riskof being too simplistic, liberal feminism assumes women canbe liberated through equality of access to education withoutchanging overarching political structures. Socialistfeminism argues that gender oppression intersects withcapitalism and that change is possible through eliminationof capitalistic structures in society. Radical feminismassumes that patriarchy is the source of women's oppression,entering the school through knowledge in the curriculum and8classroom practices. And in response to criticism thatthese feminisms represent white, middle-class women'sinterests, feminist theory is placing increasing emphasis onvaluing the distinctiveness of women as a group whilerecognizing diversity among women. In particular, attentionis given to differences of "race," socio-economic status,sexual orientation, and disability (Stasiulis, 1987).Consequentially, there are different feministstrategies for dealing with gender inequality and schooling.Liberal feminism focuses on the problems of sex-rolesocialization, sex stereotyping, and sex discrimination;socialist feminism deals with how gender intersects with"race" and class and how schooling contributes to thedivision of labour; and radical feminism focuses on theexperiences of schooling for girls and women, emphasizing aseparate women's culture based on women's knowledge andexperiences, and on diversity among women.Like many feminist researchers my work reflects morethan one type of feminist theory. My interest in genderinequality began with a concern about sex-role socializationand the division of labour. I saw coeducation in homeeconomics and technical studies as a movement towards thesharing of work in the public and private spheres.Classroom observations and interviews with students andteachers suggest that my initial faith in the power ofschooling was somewhat naive. The experiences of students9and teachers in classrooms required a more complex analysis,provided by a more radical feminist approach. At the sametime, as an educator, I am still drawn to the possibilitiesof transformation of gender relations through schooling. Asa woman, I may be trapped in what Valerie Walkerdine (1990)describes as a "concept of nurturance," "an idealist'sdream," and an "impossible fiction" (p. 22).In addition, I am not a disinterested party in relationto home economics and technical studies. My formaleducation in home economics began as a schoolgirl in thenorth-east of England. In my early school years I clearlyremember doing needlework while the boys did something else- I am not sure what they did. In secondary school, myformal training for homemaking continued. Girls tookcourses in cookery and needlework, while boys took woodwork,metalwork, and technical drawing. As a student I neverquestioned the division. It was a part of my taken forgranted experience that girls would need homemaking skillsas wives and mothers. In the 1960s, I attended a teachertraining college for Domestic Science. Here the emphasiswas to train women to teach the knowledge and skills ofhomemaking to girls in schools. As a student-teacher I didnot question why this was a predominantly female field. Myworld was that of women. My purpose was to educate youngwomen for homemaking. In my classroom we never discussedthe absence of men.10As a home economics teacher in Canada in the early1970s, I began to be influenced by feminism and the women'smovement. Courses in women's studies helped me to look atmy world differently, to name my own oppression, and to linkit to the experiences of others. Reading feminist theoryalerted me to the feminist critique of home economics. Isaw myself and my profession implicated in the sexualdivision of labour and women's oppression. Consequently, Ibecame actively involved locally and provincially in thepromotion of coeducational home economics and, indirectly,technical studies. And, as a doctoral student I lookedforward to exploring the outcome of this work.This study, then, is not a disinterested piece of work,but it does conform to the rigours of openly ideologicalethnographic research. Although what is written is myinterpretation of what I heard and what I saw, the strengthof the study lies in the careful accumulation andre-presentation of evidence, and in attention to reciprocity- the negotiation of meaning with participants in the study.As an ethnographic study, it does not intend to generalize,but it may "ring true" with other people in other settings.OrganizationI have organized the dissertation into eight chapters.The second chapter reviews the literature that brought me tothis study. I review literature in women and education,critical education theory and feminist critique of that11work, and gender and home economics and technical studies.I build a framework for the study by showing how the workhas evolved during the past two decades, highlighting whathas been accomplished and what remains to be done.Chapter 3 outlines the methodology and the method ofthe study. In particular, I focus on issues of validity inopenly ideological ethnographic research. Also, I describemy approach to classroom observation and interviews, andhighlight some of my experiences pursuing research organizedaround the concept of reciprocity.The fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters provide extensiveevidence about how gender is constructed in the homeeconomics and technical studies classrooms. Chapter 4 dealswith knowledge in the curriculum, the students' sense ofcompetence in each area and their responses to the program.I show how requiring girls and boys to participate indomestic and technical work, and the teachers' productoriented approach, did not change the students' minds aboutthe division of labour. The students' responses, however,were not straightforward: there were inconsistencies andcontradictions as students struggled to reassert theirpositions in domestic and technical work.Chapter 5 focuses on the social relations of theclassroom. I look at how students produce traditionalnotions of femininity and masculinity through bestfriendships and group formation, domination and harassment,12heterosexual relationships and prohibitions againsthomosexuality, and through expressions of popular culture inand through the body. But I point out divisions withingender categories and show how students' practices wereriddled with contradictions.Chapter 6 presents the teachers' reflections on theirpractice. The teachers' responses show how understandingsof gender equity have shaped their work and how theirpractice is constrained by the conditions of their work.Although I show how the teachers interpret life in theirclassrooms through an ideology of liberalism andindividualism based in Western culture, I also show howtheir reflections open possibilities for pedagogical change.In Chapter 7 I try to make sense of what has happenedby explaining classroom practices in terms of large scalepatriarchal structures. Specifically, I show how thepatriarchal structures of division of labour, violenceagainst women, and sexuality were actively built andcontested through students' and teachers' classroompractices, and through discourse.The final chapter draws conclusions from what has beensaid and offers some suggestions for future directions. Iargue that although students and teachers actively producedtraditional gender relations and supported patriarchalstructures, there were inconsistencies and contradictions,thereby opening possibilities for social change. I call for13a re-thinking of gender equity policies that deal only withissues of access.14CHAPTER 2REVIEW OF LITERATUREThis chapter presents an overview of the literaturerelated to the social construction of gender and schooling.It includes an overview of theoretical work which attemptsto describe and explain how schooling contributes to genderinequality. The chapter situates the study in socialreproduction and cultural production theories in educationand in the feminist critique of this work.Gender Equity and Curriculum LiteratureA body of feminist scholarship has focused attention ongender equity issues and curriculum. It has dealt not onlywith curriculum guides and resources, but also with schoolorganization, school knowledge, classroom interaction, andclassroom pedagogy. This work seeks to make visible genderinequities in schooling and offers practical solutions todeal with specific problems. The following overviewillustrates how this work has evolved during the past twodecades.In the early 1970s, feminist researchers challengedliberal assumptions about equality of educationalopportunity by showing how schooling disadvantaged girls andwomen. They argued that sex stereotyping and sexdiscrimination in schooling restricted women's access tohigher education and job opportunities. They argued for15equal (same) treatment of female and male students (Byrne,1978).In the 1980s, a proliferation of studies focused onsexism in education. Dale Spender's and Elizabeth Sarah's(1980) Learning to Lose brought together feminist critiquesof coeducation for girls and women, and provided impetus forfuture work. The under-representation of female students inschool subjects related to science and technology receivedspecial attention (Kelly, 1981; Whyte, 1986). As well,there was concern that male students were under-representedin languages, social sciences, business education, and homeeconomics (Geen, 1989; Whyld, 1983; Whyte, 1980).Many studies uncovered sex-role stereotyping incurriculum materials. Particular attention was given toresources used in elementary schools (Best, 1983; Lobban,1987; Northam, 1987; Smail, 1984; Stones, 1983).Departments of Education offered anti-sexism workshops forteachers (Cornbleet & Saunders, 1982), and handbooks devotedto the topic of sex equity were produced (Klein, 1985). Thesolution lay in a gender neutral approach to school textsand resources.Other researchers focused attention on the lives ofstudents and teachers in classrooms. Classroom interactionresearch showed how teachers treated girls and boysdifferentially and had different expectations of them(Clarricoates, 1980; Delamont, 1983; Irving, 1985; La16France, 1991; Leaman, 1984; Sadker & Sadker, 1986). Studiesshowed that boys dominated classroom interaction,monopolized resources, and were more confident in theirabilities than girls. Strategies aimed at improvingteachers' classroom practices were suggested.Although this early work has been valuable ininitiating discussion about, and documenting instances of,sex discriminatory practices in schooling, it does havelimitations. Emphasis on sex roles locates genderinequality in expectations about behaviour rather than inthe patriarchal structures in society (Carrigan et al.,1987). It equates "the same" with equal, assimilatingeveryone to male expectations. Valerie Walkerdine (1990)writes:Equal opportunities and much work on sex rolestereotyping deny difference in a most punitive andharmful way....A denial of the reality of differencemeans that the girl must bear the burden of her anxietyherself. It is literally not spoken. (p. 46)Also, a gender neutral approach to texts and resourcesmasks gender bias and allows discrimination to continue inmore subtle ways (Eichler, 1987; Houston, 1987). Inaddition, emphasis on teaching practices implies that genderinequities can be eliminated by "quick-fix" solutions suchas improving teachers' questioning techniques. KathleenWeiler (1988) sums up the concerns about such approaches togender inequality in schooling:Implicit in this view is the concept that sexism existswithin the realm of ideas, and if those ideas are17changed, then social relationships will also change.Such a view ignores the constraints of the materialworld and the various forms of power and privilege thatwork together in a complex and mutually reinforcedprocess to make up social reality as we know it. Italso ignores the complexity of consciousness and theexistence of ideology and culture. (p. 28)While one stream of feminist thought saw the reductionof differences between the sexes as a solution to genderequity, another viewed difference as a potential source ofpower for women. From this perspective women's lives,interests, and experiences needed to be revalued andfeminine virtues viewed as strengths (Gilligan, 1982;Martin, 1985; Noddings, 1984; Rich, 1985; Spender, 1982).The woman centered perspective sought differentsolutions to gender equity and schooling. Scholarsaddressed concerns about a masculine bias in schoolknowledge (Rosser, 1980; Spender, 1980; Strong-Boag, 1990;Willis, 1989) and questioned the value of coeducationalenvironments for women (Howe, 1984; Lasser, 1987; Mahony,1985; Shaw, 1980). The argument, briefly, was thatcoeducation meant giving girls and women an educationdesigned for men. Adrienne Rich (1985), a lesbian feminist:If there is any misleading concept, it is that of'coeducation': that because women and men are sittingin the same classrooms, hearing the same lectures,reading the same books, performing the same laboratoryexperiments, they are receiving an equal education.They are not, first because the content of educationitself validates men as it invalidates women. Its verymessage is that men have been the shapers and thinkersof the world, and that this is only natural. The biasof higher education, including the so-called sciences,is white, and male, racist and sexist, and this bias isexpressed in subtle and blatant ways. (p. 24)18Similarly, Jane Roland Martin (1981), an educationalphilosopher, argued that schools are permeated withmasculine values of competition, power, and control andprepare students only for the public world. She saidschooling should be informed with feminine virtues of care,concern, connectedness, and nurturance, and should alsoprepare students for the private world of home and family.In describing her conception of the educated person, Martinsaid:We need a conception of [the educated person] whichdoes not fall into the trap of assigning males andfemales to the different processes of society, yet doesnot make the mistake of ignoring one kind of processaltogether. We all participate in both kinds ofprocesses and both are important to all of us. Whetherwe adopt one or many ideals, a conception of theeducated person that is tied only to one kind ofprocess will be incomplete. (p. 107)Martin stated that feminine and masculine dimensions mustbecome an integral part of the education of all students andacross all subjects in the curriculum. She said that girlsand boys would be advantaged by understanding bothperspectives.Also, Martin (1981) questioned the notion that girlsand boys should be treated "the same." She said that genderequity is more likely to be achieved if teachers aresensitive to differences between girls and boys, differencesbased on their past, gendered experiences. She said thatteachers should provide different treatments to reflect theinterests of the disadvantaged group:19When sex or gender is thought to make no difference,women's lives, experiences, activities are overlookedand an ideal is formulated in terms of men and theroles for which they have traditionally been consideredsuited....Sex or gender has to be taken into account ifthe ideal of the educated person is not to bebiased....What is needed is a gender-sensitive ideal,one which takes sex or gender into account when itmakes a difference and ignores it when it does not.Such an ideal would truly be gender-just. (p. 109)Mary Belenky, Blythe Clinchy, Nancy Goldberger, andJill Tarule (1986) related gender sensitivity specificallyto theory about how women learn. These scholars suggestedthat women may come to know in ways that are distinctlydifferent from those of men. They said that schoolingshould be sensitive to women's ways of knowing: ways ofknowing grounded in life experience rather thanabstractions. They proposed a pedagogy more conducive towomen's ways of knowing: "banking" and "doubting" models ofeducation would be replaced with more collaborative,cooperative, and caring learning environments.Another branch of feminist scholarship has challengedthe implicit essentialism of a woman-centered perspective.Writings of poor women, older women, black women, Nativewomen, refugee women, women with disabilities, and lesbianfeminists have drawn attention to the complexities ofwomen's experiences. Feminist scholars sensitive todifferences among women state that gender inequality is tiedto other oppressions, such as those stemming from racism(Davis, 1983; hooks, 1984) and heterosexism (Rich, 1986),20and that "the systems of oppression are interlocking andmutually determining" (De Lauretis, 1990, p. 133).In education, the literature is beginning to describethe experiences of students and teachers who faceoppressions such as those based on the intersection ofgender and socio-economic status (Luttrell, 1989); genderand "race" (Amos & Palmer, 1981; Bryan, Dadzie, & Scafe,1987; Evans, 1992; Mirza, 1992; Pelleschi, 1988; Riley,1986; Scott-Jones & Clarke, 1986; Sleeter & Grant, 1985);and gender and sexual orientation (Doe, 1991; Harbeck, 1992;Khayatt 1990; Rofes, 1989; Trenchard, 1992; Trenchard &Warren, 1987). In writing about diversity among women, JaneGaskell and Arlene McLaren (1991) provide a challenge foreducators in the 1990s:It means valuing difference based on structureddivisions in society, placing difference rather thancommonality at the center of feminism and rethinkingthe whole based on those differences. It meansbuilding alliances between feminism and otherdemocratic struggles. In education it meanstransforming the curriculum and pedagogy to ensure thatall people give voice to their experience, to analyzeand understand it, and to connect it to the experienceof others. (p. 10)Critical Educational LiteratureWhile some feminist researchers in education deal withgender equity issues at the level of the curriculum, othersattempt to explain the relation between power in the societyand schooling practices. The question from this perspectiveis not so much what exists, but rather how does it happen?21How do the relations between people in the context ofschools legitimize women's subordination? The followingoverview shows how this approach builds on socialreproduction and cultural production theories, and has movedinto different stages over time.Social Reproduction TheoryIn the late 1960s, the assumption that education was asocially neutral enterprise was challenged by those whobecame known as "the new sociologists of education" or"critical educational theorists." Influenced by the Frenchphilosopher, Louis Althusser (1971), early criticaleducational theorists examined how class structures aremaintained through schooling. Althusser argued that schoolspromote knowledge, skills, behaviour, and attitudesnecessary to provide the labour power, and relations ofproduction, required by the capitalist system. This workbecame known as "social reproduction" theory.In North America, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis(1976) developed a similar explanation of socialreproduction. They argued that there was a directcorrespondence between the social relations of the schooland those of the workplace. Schools, they argued, fosterspecific personality traits in students: some schoolspromote traits that are required for individuals to besubmissive and willing workers; other schools producemanagers and the elite. Also, Bowles and Gintis identified22characteristics of the workplace that were reflected in theorganization of work in schools, such as workers' lack ofcontrol over their work, a system of competition, rewardsand threats of failure, and the fragmentation of the workitself.Michael Apple (1982, 1987) presented a similar argumentin relation to teachers' work. Apple (1982) argued thatcharacteristics of the workplace such as the deskilling andreskilling of workers, the separation of mental and manuallabour, the separation of the conception of a task from itsexecution, enter the school through corporate publishing.Apple (1987) described the effect on teachers as the"proletarianization" and "deskilling" of teachers. He spokeof an "alliance" between industry and the New Right.Education, according to Apple, was reduced to "economicutility" (Apple, 1988, 1989).Scholars of "cultural reproduction" examined the waythat class structure is legitimated and maintained throughschool knowledge and language (Bernstein, 1979; Bourdieu &Passeron, 1977; Young, 1971). Influenced by Peter Bergerand Thomas Luckmann (1967) who argued that all knowledge issocially constructed, the new sociologists of educationquestioned assumptions about what counts as educationalknowledge. They asked "Whose knowledge gets into schools"and "Whose interests does such knowledge represent?" The23argument was that if school knowledge was sociallyconstructed, then it could also be reconstructed.Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron (1977) arguedthat class structure is reproduced through students' accessto "cultural capital." Bourdieu and Passeron maintainedthat working-class students are disadvantaged in schoolsbecause school knowledge reflects bourgeois culture. BasilBernstein (1979) examined the process of transmission ofknowledge in schools. Bernstein added to the debate byarguing that educational knowledge not only representsbourgeois interests, but also is transmitted viamiddle-class language that is "foreign" to working-classstudents.While social and cultural reproduction theory raisedpolitical and ethical debate about schooling, it ignored thequestion of schools as possible sites of contestation andresistance. These early studies began to be viewed as toosimplistic, overly deterministic, and as an obstacle tosocial reform.Social Reproduction Theory and GenderFeminist scholars drew attention to the lack ofattention to girls' and women's experiences by socialreproduction theorists. Madeleine MacDonald (1980) and AnnMarie Wolpe (1978) described the work of Althusser andBowles and Gintis as "gender blind" because they assumedthat the experience of schooling was the same for girls and24boys. Miriam David (1978) argued that Bowles' and Gintis'work was also contradictory because they said that schoolingprepared students for the labour force, yet they argued thatthe home rather than the school contributed to the sexualdivision of labour in the economy. As Kathleen Weiler(1988) points out, "Bowles and Gintis assume throughouttheir work that the youths they were describing are male andthe social relations learned refer exclusively to the classstructure and waged work" (p. 9). Mary Fuller (1980) statedthat not only did the social reproduction theoristsgeneralize males to females, but they also assumedadolescents to be "racially undifferentiated" (p. 52).Feminist scholars set about inserting the concerns ofgender and "race" into a class based social reproductionframework (Deem, 1980; Delamont, 1980; Fuller, 1980; Wolpe,1978, 1981). Rosemary Deem's (1980) edited collectionSchooling for Women's Work, illuminated how schoolingreinforces the sexual division of labour. A contribution byMadeleine MacDonald (1980) showed how working-class femalestudents are directed into courses related to domesticity, adiluted academic curriculum, and oriented toward a futuredomestic role rather than waged labour, while middle-classfemale students are directed into traditional femaledominated professions such as nursing, education, and socialwork.25Feminist scholars influenced by cultural reproductiontheory examined how school knowledge gets constructed, whobenefits, and whose interests it represents. For example,Linda Valli (1988) examined how a cooperative educationprogram in a high school business education departmentshaped not only students' knowledge about the nature ofoffice work, but also their "being" as office workers.Through observation and interviews with women students,Valli explored the explicit and implicit messages which theprogram conveyed. She found that learning opportunities forwomen were severely restricted and resembled routine,dehumanizing, subordinate office practice. On-the-jobexperiences either provided a similar view, or conveyedmessages which reinforced students' sense of inadequacy.Either way students learned a sense of dissatisfactionwhich, according to Valli, contributes to women "selfdistancing" themselves from the market economy and theirultimate dependence.While showing how schooling supports capitalism andpatriarchy by directing women students into unpaid domesticwork and a reserve army of labour, feminist socialreproduction theory also had limitations. Like socialreproduction theory, this work failed to acknowledge theresistance of students and teachers in schools. The overallmessage was deterministic and functionalist.26Cultural Production TheoryScholars, influenced by Antonio Gramsci (1971), beganto question the narrow economic approach of social andcultural reproduction theories. A direct link between whatis taught in school and what students believe was questionedby those who argued that students are not passive recipientsof school knowledge. Rather, students resist some of themessages of schooling and actively produce their own newmeanings (Anyon, 1984; Apple, 1981; Giroux, 1983; Willis,1977; Young & Whitty, 1977). From this position, schoolswere seen as potential sites of social reproduction andsocial transformation.The concept of hegemony, as explained by Gramsci, iscentral to cultural production theory. According to Weiler(1988), Gramsci's explanation of hegemony in Selections fromthe Prison Notebooks (1971) has been read in two ways. Thefirst explains hegemony as the way in which dominant classesproject their own way of viewing the world onto subordinateclasses so that the latter accept this as "common sense,""given," and "natural." Weiler argues that a more carefulreading of Gramsci's work reveals his view that individualsare able to contest hegemonic control. The power ofindividuals to resist subordination means that the dominantgroups have to constantly reassert their position.Important here is not only the notion of "control" and27"consent," but also "resistance" and "contestation." Weiler(1988) writes:In [Gramsci's] formulation, hegemony is never complete,always in the process of being reimposed and alwayscapable of being resisted by historical subjects. Inthis sense it becomes a theoretical tool which can beemployed in detailed textual analysis and ethnographicimagination....his unshakeable belief in the power ofcritique and political activism allow us to begin tosee individuals as both shaped by history and shapersof history. (p. 17)Following Gramsci, Henry Giroux (1981) views schools assites "characterized by an ongoing struggle betweenhegemonic and counter-hegemonic forces" (p. 15). He viewshegemonic control as "riddled with contradictions" andargues that "radical educators must seize the positivemoment that exists amidst the cracks and disjunction" (p.31). In recent years, Giroux (1986, 1987, 1991) has furtherdeveloped his view that teachers and students, and classroomdiscourse are potential counter-hegemonic forces.Production theory is beginning to explore how schoolingsupports oppressive structures such as racism, colonialism,and heterosexism, and how these categories conflict andintersect. Michael Apple and Lois Weis (1983) edited acollection of essays which showed how action in the spheresof economics, culture, and politics interact and influenceeach other, and how the dynamics of gender, "race," andclass operate in each sphere. Apple and Weis described thisas a "parallelist" position. More recently, CameronMcCarthy and Michael Apple (1988) pushed the "parallelist"28position further. They argued that the model is toogeneral, too abstract and indicates that gender, "race," andclass oppression inevitably reproduce each other. Theauthors describe research which shows how these dynamicssometimes contradict, rather than reproduce each other.They call for research that will shed light on theintersection of gender, "race," and class, on how thesedynamics operate in cultural, economic, and politicalspheres, and how they reproduce and contradict each other.Cultural Production Theory and GenderEarly ethnographic studies situated in culturalproduction theory and related to gender issues focused onthe anti-school culture of working-class, adolescent males(Corrigan, 1979; Hebdige, 1979; Willis, 1977). In Learningto Labour (1977), Paul Willis showed how the working-class"lads" rejected the school's ideology, but in so doingproduced a culture that confirmed their working-classposition and their masculinity. While challenging schoolauthority, the "lads" anti-school culture celebratedworking-class masculinity and they willingly acceptedworking-class jobs. Willis (1981) argued that the "lads"did not passively accept the middle-class curriculum of theschool, as social reproduction theory would suggest.Rather, collectively, the "lads" rebelled against themessages of the school and produced their own meanings,thereby opening possibilities for social change.29Feminist scholars challenged the adequacy of Willis'(1977) theorizing of the "lads" resistance (Arnot, 1982;Llewellyn, 1980; McRobbie, 1980). Angela McRobbie (1980)questioned Willis' valorizing of the "lads" resistance todominant social relations when they clearly conformed totraditional notions of masculinity: to the "lads," a womanwas either "the girlfriend," "the missus," or an "easy lay."She said that Willis failed to develop the connectionbetween patriarchy and the "lads" personal relationshipswith women. Madeleine Arnot (1982) challenged themasculinist practice of generalizing studies of male youthto females. She argued that girls' and women's resistancemight be different from that of boys and men, because womenare oppressed by patriarchy and capitalism.Influenced by Willis' (1977) concepts of resistance andhuman agency in relation to working-class boys, feministresearchers turned their attention to girls (Griffin, 1985;Lees, 1986; McRobbie, 1978, 1981, 1991). Angela McRobbie(1978) showed how white, working-class girls challengedschool authority and middle-class notions of appropriatefemininity through overt displays of sexuality. McRobbiesaid:One way in which girls combat the class-based andoppressive features of the school is to assert their"femaleness," to introduce into the classroom theirphysical maturity in such a way as to force theteachers to take notice. A class instinct then findsexpression at the level of jettisoning the officialideology for girls in the school (neatness, diligence,30compliance, femininity, passivity, etc) and replacingit with a more feminine, even sexual one. (p. 104)McRobbie (1981) showed how girls formed "bedroomsubcultures" and were engrossed in the ideology of romancethrough popular music (Frith & McRobbie, 1978), and teenage"romance" magazines (McRobbie, 1981, 1991). She suggestedthat the girls' response was a form of resistance to theirinevitable working-class futures as wives and mothers. LikeWillis, McRobbie argued that while the girls' sub-cultureswere sites of resistance to capitalism and patriarchy, thegirls' actions had the effect of confirming their classpositions and reinforcing their oppression under patriarchy.Other studies suggest that girls' responses to schooland family are not expressions of resistance, but ratherthey are pragmatic solutions to everyday life (Connell,Ashendon, Kessler, & Dowsett, 1982; Fuller, 1980; Gaskell,1985; Lees, 1986). Sue Lees (1986) found that working-classand middle-class girls in Britain had a negative picture ofmarried life, but they still wanted to marry. Lees suggeststhat the girls were resigned to marriage because it was away out of either being alone or being labelled a "slag."For working-class girls, marriage was also a means tofinancial security. Rather than looking upon girls'responses as resistance, Lees says that girls' responsesshould be viewed as conformity to the sexist climate of theschool. She writes:31The fact that much of the pressure towards marriage anddomesticity is to be found in the social life of theschool rather than in the formal structure of thecurriculum should not lead to the conclusion that girlsend up in marriage and domestic life because they haveconstructed a counter school culture....It is not thegirls who construct sexism as a counter-culture. It isthere in the social life of the school, in the presenceof and the interaction with boys and in the behaviourof the teachers. (p. 120)A pragmatic response by girls was noted by Jane Gaskell(1985) in an investigation of course enrolment. Gaskellshowed how girls chose traditional futures not as a form ofresistance to school authority, but because of the sociallimitations imposed upon them. Gaskell writes: "Changingtheir minds would have meant changing the world theyexperienced, not simply convincing them of a new set ofideals around equality of opportunity and the desirabilityof a different world" (p. 58).Similarly, Mary Fuller (1980) found that girls of WestIndian parentage in a British secondary school respondedpragmatically to school. The girls did not conform to theexpectations of a "good" student: they challenged theteachers' authority and were disruptive in the classroom.At the same time, the girls had high aspirations andachieved well in examinations. Fuller argues that the girlswere aware of racial discrimination and believed that theirlife chances would be improved with academic qualifications.The girls believed that credentials would lead to a careerand ultimately would improve their chances of independencefrom men.32Also, Magda Lewis (1989) questions whether the conceptof resistance can be applied universally to women and men.Using autobiography, Lewis explored the dilemmas faced by afeminist teacher. She asks: "What can we learn fromwomen's resistance to feminist politics and how might we usethis knowledge to form the basis of our teaching?" (p. 21).Lewis states that "resistance to the emancipatory potentialof a liberating politics is an indication of the extent ofour subordination" (p. 21), and therefore feminist teachersmust be sensitive to the context of women's lives. She saysthat current scholarship on transformation and resistancefails to take account of women's experiences "assimultaneously a site of desire and threat" (p. 3). Lewisargues that radical pedagogy excludes women if it does notattend to "the threat to women's survival and livelihoodthat a critique of patriarchy...poses" (p. 5).Leslie Roman (1988) critiques feminist productiontheory for its "masculinist tendencies" (p. 14). Romanargues that feminist researchers such as McRobbie andGriffin reacted to Willis' neglect of the private sphere byromanticizing the role of family life and domesticity in thelives of young women. She states that McRobbie's analysisof popular culture does not take into account the concept ofgender "as both construct and critique" (p. 17). That is, awoman's response not only constructs her femininity, but itis also mediated by her subjectivity as a woman. As well,33Roman argues that feminist production theory does not makevisible the internal power divisions among and between womenand men. Roman's critique has implication for future work.She says that it is no longer:adequate to study young women and men who are proximateintimates as though they are unrelated cohorts when theobject of analysis is their gender relations. Nor isit adequate to assume in advance that the family is thecrucial site wherein women experience gendersubordination when the object is to understand howwomen's subordination varies across the sites of wagedwork, the family and schools. (p. 18)Some scholars have directed their attention to theconnection between gender, language, and power inclassrooms. Attention has been given to sexual harassmentof girls by boys (Jones, 1986; Mahony, 1988a, 1988b), and tothe experiences of woman teachers in school classrooms(Acker, 1988; De Lyon & Migniuolo, 1989; Lampert, 1985;Miller, 1986; Weiler, 1988). Similar work has been carriedout in university settings (Flemming et al., 1991; Kramarae& Treichler, 1990; Lewis, 1990; Williams, 1990). This workfocuses on girls' and women's experiences and illustrateshow schooling both supports and challenges patriarchalstructures.Other scholars have attended to the genderedexperiences of boys in schools. Researchers have examinedthe experiences of boys in elementary school (Askew, 1988),and secondary school (Corrigan, 1991), and they haveexamined how the curriculum supports traditional notions ofmasculinity (Frank, 1990; Kidd, 1987; Whatley, 1988). These34authors expose the relationship between discourse in schoolsand the construction of male identities and masculinities.Other studies have attended to internal divisions inpower relations (Kessler, Ashendon, Connell, & Dowsett,1985; Walkerdine, 1981, 1990; Walden & Walkerdine, 1986).In her work in a British primary (elementary) school,Valerie Walkerdine (1981) showed how girls and boys and theteacher negotiated power in the classroom; how they at onceseized and relinquished power. Walkerdine argues thatindividuals do not represent fixed positions of power. Shesays power is "produced as a constantly shifting relation"(p. 23). According to Walkerdine, power is not determinedby the fact that individuals are boys, girls, or teachers;power is constantly negotiated between them. Walkerdinedescribed the power held by girls as having a "double edge."It reinforced traditional notions of femininity and tiedthem to domesticity and economic dependence:the contradictions, the struggles for power, theshifting relations of power, all testify to thenecessity for an understanding of subjectivities, not aunique subjectivity. These contradictions also pointto the necessity to rethink our strategies for actionwithin education....It no longer seems enough tobelieve that we are in a process of simply oppressingchildren. Neither can we be comforted by the thoughtthat 'progressive education' will free children toexplore their own experience, without understandingprecisely how that experience is understood and how itproduces the children as subjects. (p. 24)Sandra Kessler, Dean Ashendon, Bob Connell, and GaryDowsett (1985) state that most studies of gender andschooling focus too simplistically on predetermined35categories of "female" and "male." They argue thatattention should be paid to variation within categories andto how particular kinds of femininity and masculinity areconstructed as cultural ideals and how other kinds aresuppressed.The work of Kessler et al. (1985) involved interviewswith 100 students in Australian working-class and uppermiddle-class secondary schools, their parents and teachers.The research showed how the schools were actively engaged inconstructing gender. Through school organization, theacademic curriculum, informal peer groups, and relationsbetween students and teachers, each school constructed agender regime, defined as:the pattern of practices that constructs various kindsof masculinity and femininity among staff and students,orders them in terms of prestige and power, andconstructs a sexual division of labour within theinstitution. The gender regime is a state of playrather than a permanent condition. It can be changed,deliberately or otherwise, but it is no less powerfulin its effects on the pupils for that. It confrontsthem with a social fact which they have to come toterms with somehow. (p. 42)The authors argue that although there is diversitywithin masculinity and femininity within schools, one kindor another becomes dominant:These are the ones that come to be seen as the patternof masculinity or femininity in general and are oftenassumed to be the natural characteristics of each sex.Other kinds of behaviour and character are defined asdeviant or inferior and attract derision, hostility,and sometimes violence. (p. 44)36Kessler et al. (1985) and Connell (1987) refer to thedominant patterns as "hegemonic masculinity" and "emphasizedfemininity." Connell (1987) writes:Hegemonic masculinity is always constructed in relationto various subordinated masculinities as well as inrelation to women. The interplay between differentforms of masculinity is an important part of how apatriarchal social order works.At the level of mass social relations...forms offemininity are defined clearly....It is the globalsubordination of women to men that provides anessential basis for differentiation. [Emphasizedfemininity] is defined around compliance with thissubordination and is oriented to accommodating theinterests and desires of men. (p. 183)Connell says that contemporary hegemonic masculinity is alsoheterosexual. He says that "contempt for homosexuality andhomosexual men...is part of the ideological package ofhegemonic masculinity" (p. 186).Connell's (1987) work joins other critiques ofproduction theory by responding to internal divisions withincategories. He says that individuals do not simply resistor reproduce oppressive structures, but are constantlyconstituting their own culture. Studies of the role ofschooling in maintaining gender inequality, therefore,should explore how individuals build as well as respond tooppressive social structures.For several reasons I have found the work of Connell(1987), Kessler et al. (1985), and Walkerdine (1981, 1989,1990), useful in analyzing gender relations in the studyreported here, and for raising questions about appropriate37pedagogic responses. Because power was negotiated among andbetween girls and boys in the study, it was not appropriateto speak of differences between girls and boys. Rather, asWalkerdine (1981) says there were "a multiplicity ofsubjectivities" (p. 23). In addition, because there wasdivision within gender categories, what became of interestwas how a particular kind of femininity and a particularkind of masculinity were supported and others suppressed.The particular kinds of femininity and masculinity fittedwith Kessler's and her colleagues', and Connell's notion of"emphasized femininity" and "hegemonic masculinity." Theirwork also provided a way of analyzing the heterosexism andhomophobia evident in the classrooms studied.Gender and Home Economics and Technical StudiesWhile there has been feminist critique of homeeconomics and technology per se, there are few studies whichdeal specifically with gender and home economics andtechnical studies education. Because home economics,historically, has addressed the role of women only inhomemaking and parenting, and because this subject has beentaught to a predominantly female group, home economics, as aprofession, has been charged with supporting the sexualdivision of labour and ultimately the oppression of women(Delphy, 1984; Ehrenreich & English, 1979; Eyre, 1985;Rowbotham, 1973; Stamp, 1977; Wynn, 1977). In addition,home economics has been criticized by scholars within the38field for reliance on technical rationality (Brown, 1984),reflection of middle-class interests (Brown, 1984),androcentrism (Peterat, 1989), racism (Williams, 1988), andheterosexism (Eyre, 1990).Literature on gender and home economics education hasdealt mainly with issues of access (Dobry, 1977; Geen, 1989;Kelly & Morgan, 1979; Lawson, 1977; Sheppard, 1983), sexrole stereotyping and sex discrimination in school texts andresources (Benzley, 1990; Dobry, 1986; Hayibor, 1990; Weis,1974; Williams & Nickols, 1981; Wynn, 1983), with curriculumcontent (Attar, 1990), and with masculinist bias in schoolknowledge (Benzley, 1990; Eyre, 1989, 1990).Feminist critique of technology has challenged themasculinist bias in technological knowledge, the exclusionof women from technological processes, and the impact oftechnology on women's lives (Cherry, McIntyre &Jaggernathsingh, 1991; Franklin, 1990; Kramarae, 1988;Rothschild, 1983). This work is part of a rich literatureon the feminist critique of science (Keller, 1985).Literature on gender and technology education has dealtmainly with issues of access (Bruce, 1986; Catton, 1986) andwith masculine assumptions inherent in technology education(Rothschild, 1983, 1988, 1989).Classroom interaction research in Britain has exposedsexist practices in Craft Design and Technology (Cawthorne,1988; Grant, 1983; Whyte, 1984), a program which resembles a39combined home economics and technical studies curriculum.These studies have shown how male students dominateclassroom discussion and teacher attention, monopolizeresources, and are more confident in their abilities thangirls. Analysis of teacher-student interaction has shownthat teachers treat boys and girls in a stereotypical mannerand have different expectations for them.Although this work has been helpful in influencingpolicy at the classroom level it suffers from the samelimitations as the "Gender Equity" literature mentionedpreviously. Emphasis on sex roles draws attention away fromlarger social forces that support and maintain women'ssubordination. More recent approaches suggest attention tothe notion of power and relation will more adequatelyprovide an understanding of the development and maintenanceof traditional gender categories (Connell, 1987; Walkerdine,1990).The approach used in classroom interaction studies ofhome economics and technical studies has involvedobservations of large samples using quantifiable codingschemes. Pre-established categories do not allow for theexistence of many and conflicting patterns in classroominteraction and little attempt is made to contextualize theinteraction or to obtain the perspectives of students andteachers (Dart & Clarke, 1988; Hammersley, 1986). Also,more emphasis has been placed on teacher-student than40student-student interaction and on the number ofinteractions rather than on the gendered discourse of theclassroom. Classroom interaction research in home economicsand technical studies has also ignored divisions withingender categories and has considered gender separate fromother issues such as those of "race," class, andheterosexism.This study grows from suggestions in the literaturethat have been more often called for than accomplished.First, it explores how home economics and technical studiesclassrooms are sites of the larger social processes ofgender relations. Second, it views students and teachers asactively involved in the production of gender. It looks athow they are shaped by and shape traditional gendercategories and how they reproduce and/or transform genderrelations. Third, while focusing primarily on the socialorganization of gender, the study tries to be sensitive toindividual differences, particularly those based on "race"and social class.41CHAPTER 3DOING ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCHWriting ethnography is not about capturing the real.Instead, ethnography, if it is to be critical, mustbegin in identifying its own textual strategies, inpointing out the gaps between stories, the structure,and the retellings, and in representing theconstructions of cultural knowledge as overdeterminedby relations of power, subjective investments, and whatcannot said. (Britzman, 1990, p. 12)This chapter deals with the methodology and method ofthe study. Sandra Harding (1987) describes "methodology" as"a theory and analysis of how research does or shouldproceed" (p. 3), whereas "method" deals with "techniques forgathering evidence" (p. 2). She argues that discussions ofmethod and methodology should be separated otherwise thereis a lack of clarity about what is distinctive about, andwhat must be done to advance, feminist social inquiry. Thechapter, therefore, attends to each separately beginningwith a discussion of methodology. The chapter concludeswith a description of my experiences in the field.MethodologyThe ultimate goal of traditional social scienceresearch is to advance knowledge of people and to further aspecific discipline. The purpose of feminist research,however, is directed at changing the social reality ofwomen. These different purposes are reflected in the clashbetween two epistemological positions: a) scientificknowledge is supposed to be value neutral and protected from42the social values of the researcher, and b) feministresearch is founded on political principles.Patti Lather (1991), however, argues that in thispostpositivist era it is no longer a question of whetherdata are biased. She says the question to ask is: "Whoseinterests are served by the bias?" (p. 14). Lather callsfor "self-reflexivity" which she defines as explication of"how researcher values permeate inquiry" (p. 2). At thesame time, she alerts praxis-oriented researchers to thedangers of "conceptual overdeterminism" (p. 14), and to the"distorting effect of personal bias upon the logic ofevidence" (p. 66). Lather says that it is important toexplore "how to do 'good' openly value-based inquiry" (p.14).This study is "openly value-based" (Lather, 1991, p.14) because it deals with inequality for women and bringsgender up-front and center. This does not mean merely thatwomen are included in the research, although thedisproportionate focus on men by ethnographic researchershas been well documented (Daniels, 1975; Imber & Tuana,1988; Joy, 1984; Lofland, 1975; Tomm, 1989; Trebilcot,1988). Rather, the experiences of gender from theperspectives of all participants, including the researcher,raise political questions which challenge traditionalmethodological and epistemological assumptions (Currie,1988).43Following Lather, this section of the chapter looks atthree methodological issues central to this study: the roleof theory in emancipatory oriented research; therelationship between the researcher and the researched; andquestions surrounding validity.TheoryTension exists within the field research traditionregarding the place of theory and the use of theoreticalmodels in data analysis. Some argue that theory should beused to orient research and to make sense of the data(Woods, 1986). Others argue that theory driven studiescontradict the spirit of ethnographic research (Ball, 1984).Martyn Hammersley and Paul Atkinson (1983), building on thework of Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (1967), emphasizethat theory comes from the experiences of the setting and isreflexive; it is grounded in the setting.Feminist researchers have added to the debate. LizStanley and Sue Wise (1983), and others, argue that sexistresearch develops knowledge from grand theory andobjectifies experiences in order to discover knowledge and"truth." According to Maria Mies (1983) this approach has"reproduced the structural separation of theory andpractice" (p. 119). Margrit Eichler (in Stanley & Wise,1983) writes: "Surely feminism should be concerned withmaking experience the basis of theory and not with making afetish out of grand theory which by its very nature can't be44applied to specific situations" (p. 100). Also, Dawn Currie(1988) writes: "Conceptual categories emerge out of thedata rather than existing as an a priori....This results inthe development of new concepts as we conduct our researchand, eventually, new theoretical discourse" (p. 19).However, Lather (1986) argues that a priori theory, asopposed to grounded theory, is at the heart of value-basedinquiry. She says that tensions arise among researchers whoare caught between wanting to build theory on livedexperience and explain that experience in terms of socialtheory. Lather offers a useful solution to the impasse.She says "not only must theory illuminate the livedexperience of progressive social groups; it must also beilluminated by their struggles" (p. 262). She calls for "asystemized reflexivity which reveals how a priori theory hasbeen changed by the logic of the data," and a "consciouscontext of theory building" while guarding against"theoretical imposition" (p. 271). In this work, I do comeat my study with a set of theoretical assumptions, butattempt as Lather suggests to question my assumptions duringthe course of the research.Relationship between the Researcher and the Research/edIn the field research tradition, there are alsodiffe'rences of opinion about the role of the researcher inrelation to the researched and about how open the researchershould be about her or his personal experiences and45influence in the research enterprise (Hammersley & Atkinson,1983; Mishler, 1986).Feminist researchers have attended to the relationshipbetween the researcher and the researched. Many feministresearchers argue that there is no place for hierarchies inemancipatory oriented research (e.g. Harding, 1987). Somesuggest that the following techniques are less oppressive:life histories and action research (Imber & Tuana, 1988;Krall, 1988); participatory research (Maguire, 1987);experiential research (Reinharz, 1983); interviews thatresemble conversations (Oakley, 1981); and more views frombelow rather than above (Mies, 1983).Lather (1986) argues for reciprocity, which shedescribes as "the mutual negotiation of meaning and power"(p. 263). She says that earlier attention to therelationship between researcher and researched was to obtainbetter data. She argues that "we must go beyond the concernfor better data to a concern for research as praxis...to useour research to help participants understand and changetheir situations...for empowering the researched" (p. 263).Lather (1986) suggests that the following approachesencourage reciprocity in research:Interviews conducted in an interactive, dialogic mannerthat require self disclosure on the part of theresearcher....Sequential interviews of both individualsand small groups to facilitate collaboration and adeeper probing of research issues....Negotiatingmeaning [by]...recycling description, emerging analysisand conclusions to at least a subsample of respondents.(p. 266)46Lather also raises the issue of false consciousness.She says:We need to discover the necessary conditions that freepeople to engage in ideology critique....There, in thenexus of that dialectic, lies the opportunity to createreciprocal, dialogic research designs which not onlylead to self-reflection but also provide a forum inwhich to test the usefullness, the resonance, ofconceptual and theoretical formulations. (p. 266)In addition, Lather argues for reciprocity for theorybuilding. She writes:The point is to provide an environment that invitesparticipants' critical reactions to our accounts oftheir worlds....As such, dialogic research designsallow us both to begin to grasp the necessaryconditions for people to engage in ideology critiqueand transformative social action and to distinguishbetween...'enabling' versus 'blinding' biases on thepart of the researcher. (p. 268)Whereas this study was guided by Lather's suggestedapproaches to research, later in this chapter I describedifficulties I experienced in carrying out research designedaround Lather's concept of reciprocity. This has drawn meto the work of those who critique critical approaches toresearch and pedagogy.Valerie Walkerdine (1990) argues that theresearcher/participant relationship is not an issue ofintrusiveness, but one of power. She says that powerrelations cannot be resolved by what she describes as"patronizing attempts" at "reducing power differentials" (p.195). She describes observation as "surveillant voyeurism,a 'will to tell the truth'...which contains a set ofdesperate desires - for power, control, for vicarious47joining-in...as well as a desperate fear of the Other beingobserved" (p. 174). She says that "we should look at thedesire for forms of mastery that are present in our ownsubjectification as cultural analysts before rushing to'save' 'the masses'" (p. 174). Walkerdine writes:However disguised, the observer's account is aregulative reading which pathologizes the participants'actions. The knowledge it produces will inevitablydiffer from the meanings ascribed to them by theparticipants - meanings they produce as they live outthe practices in which they are formed. But thestruggle between them is not simply about the 'values'attached to meanings. Nor is it about validatingpeople's interpretations. It is a struggle about powerwith a clear material effectivity. One might thereforeask how far it is possible for the observer to 'speak'for the observed. (p. 195)Similarly, Elizabeth Ellsworth (1989) provides acritique of discourses on critical pedagogy which, Isuggest, can be applied to empowerment oriented research.Ellsworth says that assumptions about "empowerment" and"dialogue" are "repressive myths that perpetuate relationsof dominance" (p. 298). She argues that critical pedagogyis often dependent upon "analytic critical judgement" (p.304). This approach, she argues, perpetuates "myths of theideal rational person" (p. 304), and serves to exclude andoppress others. Ellsworth describes oppressive teachingstrategies meant to "give students the analytic skills tomake them as free, rational, and objective as teacherssupposedly are" and "to bring the student 'up' to theteacher's level of understanding" (p. 306). Ellsworth says"no teacher is free of...learned and internalized48oppressions" (p. 308). She argues that such attempts atcritical pedagogy leave the hierarchical relationshipbetween teacher and student intact. Like Walkerdine,Ellsworth says "Such a relation becomes voyeuristic when thevoice of the pedagog herself goes unexamined" (p. 312).Establishing Trustworthiness In any research study the researcher must be concernedabout the accuracy of research findings. Ethnographic andfeminist researchers tend to view research "validity" as anemerging construct undergoing debate (Goetz, 1989). Thisstudy was guided by the views of validity described byLincoln and Guba (1985), Lather (1986), Hawkesworth (1989),and Donmeyer (1985).Yvonna Lincoln and Egon Guba (1985) use terms whichthey argue are more appropriate for naturalistic forms ofinquiry. They use "credibility," "transferability,""dependability," and "confirmability" in place of "internalvalidity," "external validity," "reliability," and"objectivity," respectively. To establish credibility theysuggest: prolonged engagement in the setting, persistentobservation, triangulation, peer debriefing, negative caseanalysis, referential adequacy, and member checks. Fortransferability they suggest: thick description andpurposive sampling. For dependability: previouslyestablished credibility, triangulation, and inquiry audit.49For confirmability: inquiry audit, triangulation, andreflexive journals.Lather (1991) deals specifically with "how to do 'good'openly value-based inquiry" (p. 14). She argues thatpraxis-oriented researchers need to search for "workableways of establishing the trustworthiness of data in criticalinquiry" (p. 52). Building on the work of Lincoln and Guba,Lather (1986) offers a reconceptualization of validitywhich, she argues, is particularly appropriate foremancipatory oriented research. Lather's notion oftriangulation includes not only the standard measures ofmultiple data sources and methods, but also theoreticalschemes. She calls for construct validity which, through "asystemized reflexivity" encompasses a "conscious context oftheory building" whilst guarding against "theoreticalimposition" (p. 271). Lather adds to Lincoln's and Guba's"member checks." She suggests that face validity, takingthe results back to the participants for checking followedby possible refining of the data, "should be a necessary butnot a sufficient approach to establishing data credibility"(p. 272). In addition, Lather describes catalytic validity,as the degree to which the research has an emancipatory andtransformative effect upon the participants. Lather writes:"Catalytic validity represents the degree to which theresearch process reorients, focuses, and energizes50participants toward knowing reality in order to transformit" (p. 272).Mary Hawkesworth (1989) proposes a shift away frommale/female issues of objectivity advanced by feministempiricism and feminist standpoint theories, and away fromthe relativist position of postmodernism, toward discussionof the validity of claims. Hawkesworth states "Knowingpresupposes involvement in a social process replete withrules of compliance, norms of assessment, and standards ofexcellence that are humanly created" (p. 548). From thisperspective, the feminist research community asks differentquestions and interprets research differently thantraditional approaches. This does not mean the acceptanceof a relativist position, but rather standards ofrationality are set by the community of scholars.Hawkesworth writes: "A critical feministepistemology...must defend the adoption of a minimaliststandard of rationality that requires that belief beapportioned evidence and that no assertion be immune fromcritical assessment" (p. 556). Hawkesworth says that claimsare not derived from "some privileged standpoint of thefeminist knower nor from the putative merits of particularinstitutions but from the strength of rational argument,from the ability to demonstrate point by point thedeficiencies of alternative explanations" (p. 557).51Robert Donmoyer's (1985) work, based on Toulmin'snotion of purpose in science, is also useful in evaluatingresearch. Similar to Hawkesworth, Donmoyer argues that eachdiscipline has its own purpose. He writes: "Differingpurposes will inevitably result in different criteria forappraising the relative adequacy of conflicting conceptualschemes or languages" (p. 18). This does not mean arelativist position. Donmoyer's framework of first, second,and third order mistakes can be used as a model to evaluatea research study. First order mistakes arise when there isinsufficient evidence to support propositions, second ordermistakes occur when the language used "to frame propositionsis not appropriate or adequate for particular purposes," andthird order mistakes "relate to the inadequacies of thepurposes themselves" (p. 19).Thus, according to Donmoyer, to judge thetrustworthiness of research, attention must be given togathering and appraising evidence while avoiding personalbias. To judge theoretical coherence, the theoreticalframework must be adequate for the purposes of the research.The researcher must be clear about the political purposes ofthe research and how this influences the kinds of questionsasked, the selection of research methods, and what is or isnot revealed by a particular study. Overarching both arequestions about the "desirability of the purposes theresearch serves" (p. 19). To do so involves discussion52about political questions and open dialogue about the standtaken by the researcher as a political actor. Thus, asToulmin states, "Questions of justice have taken place inthe forum of scientific judgement alongside questions oftruth" (in Donmoyer, 1985, p. 19).MethodThis study is situated in the field research traditionof ethnography. The ethnographic researcher studies theculture of a setting to provide knowledge about humanactivity. Although a unified conception of ethnography doesnot exist, the ethnographic approach generally assumes thatknowledge is socially constructed (Berger & Luckman, 1966)and is shared in a reflexive way by members of a setting.The ethnographer claims that knowledge can be established byspending time with, observing, and talking with people intheir natural settings. Paramount to much ethnographicresearch is the notion that it is dialectic, interactive,and adaptive (Hymes, 1982).The diversity of ethnographic texts is indicative ofthe influence of hermeneutic philosophy, phenomenology, andfeminist theory (Clifford & Marcus, 1986). Traditionally,ethnography was characterized by accounts which provided aninterpretation of a setting and sought to representcultures. More recently, recognition of the limits ofrepresentation, and the reflexive nature of the field, hasresulted in accounts which assume, at best, that accounts53are only partial truths and are necessarily incomplete(Clifford, 1986). Also, earlier emphasis on visualobservation only, the hierarchical separation of observerand "subject," and distancing of author and reader, has beenreplaced by more attention to the spoken word, morecollaborative and cooperative processes, and emphasis on thewriting of texts which engage the reader in the experienceitself rather than an interpretation of it. The evolutionof the field is evident in fieldwork accounts which areself-reflexive, subjective, dialogical, and polyphonic(Tyler, 1986).The SettingThe setting for this study was a mandatory, Grade 8,coeducational, home economics/technical studies program inan inner-city, multi-ethnic, secondary school in Vancouver,British Columbia. The study is based on participantobservation and interviews with a classroom group of 24Grade 8 students (10 girls and 14 boys) and six teachers,during a school year. Students represented a variety ofethnic and cultural groups. The majority of students wereof Chinese and Vietnamese origins, with the remainder havingvarious backgrounds, including First Nations, Indo-Canadianand English Canadian. All of the teachers were "white" andfrom so-called majority backgrounds. All of the homeeconomics teachers were women, and all of the technicalstudies teachers were men.54The school was recommended to me by curriculumconsultants for home economics and technical studies as aschool that had made a strong commitment to a coeducationalpractical arts program. Teachers in this school had beenactive proponents of coeducation and the school was one ofthe first in the school district to implement a junior high,coeducational practical arts initiative. The program hadbeen in place for five years, unlike many other schoolswhose programs were still in the planning stages.The school offered Grade 8, coeducational homeeconomics/technical studies organized on a rotational basisamong six teachers. The students spent approximately 18one-hour classroom periods in each of the following subjectareas: food and nutrition, clothing and textiles, familymanagement, woodwork, graphics and drafting, andelectricity. Home economics and technical studiesclassrooms were not streamed: students from the feederelementary schools were randomly placed in each classroom.I followed one group of students through the rotationalprogram.The school provided a case of a coeducational homeeconomics/technical studies setting. Many schools acrossCanada are moving toward coeducational homeeconomics/technical studies programs organized on a similarrotational basis.55Knowledge about gender relations in the coeducationalhome economics/technical studies program was primarilyestablished through observation of classrooms and interviewswith students and teachers involved in the program.Observation and interviews proceeded concurrently, but inthis chapter they are described separately.ObservationObservation involves spending time with participants intheir "natural" setting, doing what is often described as"participant observation" (Spradley, 1980). Theethnographic researcher gathers information from the settingitself and from the interaction of the people in thesetting. Some differentiate between researchers who claimto assume a "fly on the wall" stance and those who areactively involved with the participants, and various stagesin between (Spradley, 1980). I tend to favour ElviWhittaker (personal communication, September 27, 1988) whoargues that an observer's intrusion renders her or him a"participant" in a setting.The ethnographer has to make decisions about how torecord observations. Some may use video or audiorecordings; most use field notes. Those who use field noteshave to decide whether to write the notes during or after aperiod of observation in the field, and how extensive thenotes will be. Field notes range from key words which serve56to remind the researcher about events to extensive accountswhich include interpretation and analysis (Spradley, 1980).In this study, I wrote descriptive field notes whilestudents and teachers talked and worked. In what became myown shorthand, I recorded what students and teachers did andwhat they said to each other. I typed up my notes at theend of each day in the field. These notes were descriptiveonly. I recorded my thoughts about analysis andinterpretation, and things that cannot be said, in aseparate field diary.Questions which guided my observation of the studentswere: What are the students' reactions to learningexperiences in the HE/TS classroom? Are there differencesamong students in their participation in HE/TS? How doesclassroom talk, interaction, and behaviour vary amongstudents? Do students help or "do" for each other? How arestudents grouped? Does behaviour and interaction ofstudents vary among groups? Do students work together orindividually? Are there differences in how individualstudents, or groups of students, interact with the teacherin HE/TS? Do students participate actively in theteaching/learning situation?Questions which guided my observation of the teacherswere: How does the teacher interact with the students? Arethere differences in the way the teacher interacts withindividual students or with groups of students? Does the57teacher demonstrate sensitivity to the different experiencesof students, for example, differences based on gender,ethnicity, and socio-economic status? How does the teacherdeal with different ability levels of students? Do theteacher's selection of learning experiences, and her or hisclassroom interaction, promote and exemplify theestablishment of egalitarian relationships? What am I ableto learn about the teacher's understanding of equity issuesfrom classroom verbal and nonverbal interaction?In addition, how do answers to questions regardingobservation of students and teachers vary between units ofstudy within and between HE/TS classrooms and among femaleand male students and teachers? What might be reasons fordifference? How do other dimensions such as those based onrace and social class enter into the relations of gender?Interviews The ethnographic interview is usually open-ended andsemi-structured. Its purpose is to gain an understanding ofa setting from the perspective of those in it. Ethnographicresearchers frequently talk about interviews that resembleconversations (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983; Mishler, 1986).Feminist, Ann Oakley (1981) stresses the importance ofconversation as a two-way sharing of information. She saysresearchers must be willing to share their own lives withparticipants. Oakley argues that two-way conversations are58essential for the fostering of non-hierarchicalrelationships between the researcher and the participants.In this study, I used three interview formats withteachers and students: formal individual interviews, formalgroup interviews, and informal talks. I audio-taped theformal interviews and transcribed them myself.Teacher interviews.I carried out two formal interviews with each of thesix teachers. I interviewed each teacher at the beginningand end of her or his allotted time with the students. Theinterviews took place at a pre-arranged time, usually at thebeginning or the end of a school day, or during lunch hour.I interviewed one teacher in her home.Although ethnographic research is reflexive, therebyallowing the data collection process to be shaped followinganalysis of the data during the course of fieldwork, myprevious experience as a home economics teacher and as anethnographic researcher in a home economics classroomsuggested foreshadowing questions. For example, interviewswith teachers sought answers to questions such as: What isthe teacher's understanding of the purpose of HE and TS, andof a link, if any, between the two? What is the teacher'sunderstanding of the purpose of a combined HE/TS program?What is the teacher's response to coeducational classrooms?What does the teacher find most rewarding, frustrating,exciting, or disappointing about HE/TS? Has the HE/TS59program changed or influenced the teacher's work, approach,content, evaluation procedures? Has the teacher experiencedany difficulty in implementing the program? Would theteacher like to see HE/TS continue beyond Grade 8? Why orwhy not? What link do teachers see between HE/TS andstudents' present and future lives? What is the teacher'sunderstanding of gender issues and schooling? What are theteacher's views regarding gender differences in students'participation and interaction in HE/TS classrooms? Whatdifferences, if any, has the teacher found between teachinggirls and boys, and students of different ethnic groups? Towhat extent and how does the teacher accommodate anydifferences? What does the teacher know about her or hisstudents?The final individual interview with each teachercentered on her or his responses to the observationtranscripts. A few days before the interview I gave eachteacher the typed transcripts of my observations of his orher classroom. I wanted to find out whether my observations"rang true" or "clicked" with the teachers' understandingsof my descriptions of life in their classrooms.I held two group sessions with the teachers. The firstsession was held at the beginning of the school year when Idescribed the project to the teachers. The second sessionwas held a year after the actual research was completed. Atthat time I presented my analysis to the teachers and60recorded their comments. The teachers' responses fed backinto my analysis and provided the necessary corrective thatLather (1986) talks about.Student interviews.I interviewed 21 students. All of the interviews wereheld during the school lunch hour. Interviews with studentssought answers to questions such as: What does HE/TS meanto students? What is it like to be a student in acoeducational HE/TS classroom? Which units do studentsenjoy, find relevant, want to learn more about, and why?What do students not like or find irrelevant about HE/TS,and why? Is there anything in the HE/TS curriculum thatconflicts with students' values and experiences outside ofschool? What difficulties have students experienced inHE/TS? Is there anything about HE/TS that makes them angry,happy, excited, irritated, comfortable, uncomfortable, andwhy? What are students' previous experiences in foodpreparation, clothing, wood, electricity etc.? What link,if any, do students see between HE and TS and their futurelives? What do students believe their future experienceswill be? Do students intend to elect HE and/or TS nextyear? Why or why not? Do students believe all schoolsubjects are open to them? Why, why not? What arestudents' perceptions of their parents' responses to themtaking HE/TS? How do students view this response?61In addition, interviews with students and teachersasked participants to account for actions that I observed inthe classroom. An account, according to Marvin Scott andStanford Lyman (1968) is:A statement made by a social actor to explainunanticipated or untoward behavior - whether thatbehavior is his [sic] own or that of others, andwhether the proximate cause for the statement arisesfrom the actor himself [sic] or from someone else.(p. 46)Understanding the intentionality of an individual's actioncan lead to a better understanding of how gender is sociallyconstructed and why maintenance or transformation of genderrelations might occur.Informal interviews.Throughout the study I talked to the teachers andstudents. These talks were informal in that they occurredimpromptu. I did not take notes, but usually summarized theconversation in writing at the first opportunity. Ifrequently talked to students as we waited to go into aclassroom or while they were working on their projects. Italked to teachers after class or in the staff cafeteria.In the FieldEnteringMy relationship with participants in the study began in1987 when I was working with teachers in graduate educationcourses. One teacher, who eventually became a participantin the study, was as interested as I was in promoting gender62equity in home economics through coeducational programs.When I needed a school to carry out an assignment on thistopic for a research methods course, the teacher invited meto observe her classroom.Although at that time my thinking about gender equitywas limited to that of gender roles, and I conducted thatresearch in a different school, I look upon that experienceas preparation for the present study. Over the next fewyears I gradually became familiar with gender equitypolicies in the district where I lived and worked, anddeveloped my thinking about gender equity and schooling.When I was ready to begin my doctoral research Isubmitted a proposal to the local school board, requestingpermission to contact schools in the district. The focus ofmy research was to be gender relations in coeducational homeeconomics classrooms. The Board responded by saying thatthey would prefer that the research involve home economicsand technical studies classrooms, and in particular, thejunior high coeducational home economics and technicalstudies program.At first I was reluctant to expand my study. However,after speaking with the district consultants for homeeconomics and technical studies and with my advisor, I feltexcited about the possibilities of including a traditionallymale dominated, as well as a traditionally female dominated,school subject in the research. Both consultants were63enthusiastic and said they felt that my work would make avaluable contribution to program development. Theysuggested that I contact teachers in a school that had beeninvolved with the coeducational program for some time. Iliked the idea of contributing to the local educationcommunity and I felt pleased that, as far as the Board wasconcerned, I was accepted as a researcher.I contacted the school principal and all of theteachers by letter in July, 1989. I explained the purposeof the research and described the kind of research I wouldbe doing. I said that I would contact each of them,individually, at the beginning of September to find out ifthey were willing to pursue this project with me.In September, the first teacher whom I contacted toldme that the teachers had talked about my request and allagreed to have me observe their classrooms. I spoke withthe other teachers and arranged to meet them as a group sothat I could explain the study in more detail. I alsotelephoned the school to arrange a meeting with theprincipal.My meeting with the principal was short, butproductive. He showed an interest in my work, but assuredme that it would be up to the teachers to decide whether theresearch should proceed. He gave me background informationabout the school and the students. He introduced me to theother two male vice-principals. The principal did voice his64concern about research studies that never materialize, andasked that I give a copy of the dissertation to the school.Before leaving, the principal introduced me to the officestaff. I felt welcome.The following day, I met with the teachers at 8:30 a.m.I knew that the teachers' time was precious and that they nodoubt had things to do before class. I kept my presentationshort, leaving time for questions. I emphasized that I knewthe pressures of teaching and admitted that I was not surethat I would want someone in my classroom on a daily basis.The teachers' comments suggested to me that they were proudof their program and that they were pleased someone wastaking an interest in their work. One teacher said that hehoped the study would show why few girls were takingtechnical studies in senior high school. The teachers weresurprised and disappointed that, for ethical reasons, theirnames could not be in the dissertation. We were mutuallyconcerned about which group of students would be the mostsuitable group for the study. One teacher suggested that Ispend a few minutes in each classroom that morning to seefor myself which group of students would be the mostappropriate.My visit to each classroom was short, but it gave me achance to reassure the teachers that their participation wasvoluntary and they could change their minds at any time.Each teacher introduced me to her or his group of students.65I sensed anxiety from one teacher who said "You aren'tcoming to me first are you?" I replied "Not if you don'twant me to." I decided to begin with the Family Managementsection, partly because here was the teacher I already knew,but also because this section provided the best opportunityfor me to interact with the students and to get to knowtheir names. I telephoned the teacher that evening to tellher of my decision. I wrote in my field dairy: "[name ofteacher] seemed a little anxious that I should begin withher group, but she told me to come tomorrow rather than nextweek as I had suggested" (Field Diary, September 11, 1989).I was, of course, elated that the teachers hadresponded so positively to my proposal. At the same time, Iwas concerned that they may have felt pressured toparticipate. I knew the importance of developing a sincere,non-hierarchical, reciprocal relationship with the teachers.I felt very apprehensive about my first day in theclassroom with the students. I thought carefully about whatto wear - jeans, sneakers, and a sweatshirt was my uniformfor months to come. Although I was not required to obtainofficial consent from the students to be in their classroom,afterwards I regretted not having carried out some kind ofpermission procedure with them. I knew that developing afriendly ongoing relationship with the students as well asthe teachers was of ultimate importance.66The teacher introduced me as a student from theuniversity. I told the students I was there to find outabout what happened in the home economics/technical studiesprogram. I told them that I would be taking notes and thatI would like to talk to them individually about the program.Gaining consent for individual interviews with studentswas more difficult than I had anticipated. Following Boardrequirements, I developed a consent letter to be sent toparents. When I showed the letter to the principal hesuggested a major edit. After three attempts, he approvedthe letter. The final draft looked little like my original:it was more clear, but more compelling. I asked abouthaving the letter translated for non-English speakingparents, but the principal said that this was not usuallydone and that students were used to interpreting letters forparents.I explained the purpose of the letter to the students.One boy asked why the students couldn't just sign the letterthemselves. It took many reminders from the teacher beforemost of the letters were returned. I felt veryuncomfortable about the procedure surrounding the letters.I knew that the students and their parents were being askedto participate in something they might not fully understand.I wondered if parents in a more affluent area of the citywould have been so obliging. I understood how research,67despite its emancipatory intent, can lead to the oppressionof others.Watching and ListeningI had intended to participate in the classroomactivities as a student. I thought that if I made projectsalong with the students, this would bring me closer toindividual students and small groups. I also felt that myactive participation would make the teachers feel morecomfortable with my presence. I soon realized, however,that I could not learn how to operate a table saw andobserve the gender dynamics of the classroom at the sametime. I decided to sit with the students and watch, listen,and talk to them as they worked.My observations were selective. The classrooms werelarge and students usually sat in small groups at separatetables. Students also moved around the room as they worked.Frequently, the noise of equipment and machinery drowned outconversation. Teachers moved from one group of students toanother. Consequently, I was usually able to take in onlywhat was happening immediately around me, and this too was aprocess of selection from many events. To compensate, Ivaried my position in the classroom, sitting with differentgroups of students daily. Although on most occasions thestudents were cooperative and friendly, there were timeswhen they clearly wanted to be left alone. One entry in myfield diary read: "I sat next to Poonam, Lily, and Melanie.6 8They immediately moved to another table leaving me on myown" (Field Diary, October 24, 1989).My note taking was not straightforward, nor withouttrauma. At the beginning of the year, students occasionallyasked me what I was writing. I responded with vaguecomments such as "I'm writing about things that arehappening in the classroom." A few asked to see my notes.I tried to treat this as a joke saying that they would neverbe able to make out my writing. The few who peered over myshoulder confirmed my response. Although the students'questions about my notetaking diminished as the yearprogressed, they were clearly aware of my actions. An entryin my field diary read: "The bus driver asked if anyone hada pen he could borrow. Vinh called out, 'Ms Eyre, she hasone, she's always taking notes'" (Field Diary, November 17,1989).While I tried to treat students' inquiries in alighthearted way, the students had every right to challengemy intrusion into their private worlds. I felt awkwardabout writing about students and teachers in their presence,but I knew that I would not be able to remember details,otherwise. It seemed to me that it was the details ofconversations and events that were important to this study.While observing I was often placed in the position ofhaving to resist assuming a teacher role. Occasionally,students came to me for help with their work. Sometimes,69the teachers talked to me as if I was another teacher. Iavoided becoming involved in teacher disagreements with orabout students. This problem was most likely to occur whenthere was a substitute teacher. She or he looked to me forinformation about what the students should or should not bedoing in the classroom. Also, occasionally I had to fightto restrain my own impulses:I sat on the bus with the students while the teacherand the driver completed paper work before we couldleave for the trip. The students were very noisy. Theboys at the back of the bus were entertained by Bao andJay who were calling Gemma 'horny.' She retaliated,telling them to 'Get lost.' Stuart and Danny had theirheads out of the windows, shouting and whistling tostudents outside. Chau and Thanh were jumping up anddown trying to see if their heads could touch the roofof the bus. Vinh was holding David's head down on theseat in a wrestling manoeuvre. The girls egged theboys on, shouting to the back of the bus, and callingthe boys 'stupid.' Jill looked completely disgustedbut ended up name calling across to Vinh and David. Iwas tempted to settle them down - but resisted!(Field Diary, November 17, 1989)Talking While my intention was to have each interview resemblea conversation, this was more difficult than I hadanticipated. During formal taped interviews, the teacherskept pushing me back into a more hierarchical interviewstyle. For example, after what I thought was a wonderful"conversation" a teacher asked, "How am I doing?" AlthoughI acknowledge that stepping in and out of a conversation ispossible, such a question is not usually asked in aconversation.70Informal talks with the teachers did resembleconversations. Conversations in the staff cafeteria ofteninvolved feminist issues. A teacher might talk aboutsomething she or he had seen or heard on television or at aconference. Although I did not initiate these conversationsthe study seemed to me to provide a reason for talking aboutgender issues and education.Talked to [name of teacher] in the staff cafeteria. Hesaid that having a 'girls only' school golf team wasdiscriminatory. We talked about that for a while....Healso said that he had bought a 'non-sexist' dictionary,but thought it was sexist. He is going to bring it into show me. (Field Diary, February 22, 1990)[Name of teacher] phoned to tell me her application forthe sexism grant had been accepted. She said she wasgoing to a dinner sponsored by the Vancouver Societyfor Immigrant and Visible Minority Women. She said shehad attended the Sadker and Sadker presentation and sohad [names of two of the male teachers in the study].Is this the transformative effect that Patti Lathertalks about? (Field Diary, December 4, 1989)In addition, I talked with teachers before and afterclass. My conversations with the men teachers were usuallybrief and mostly pertained to what had transpired in theclassroom. On one occasion, my conversation with a manteacher was interrupted by another man teacher who made acomment about spending time "talking with the ladies." Thewoman teachers often invited me to stay and have coffee orlunch with them. Our conversations involved a variety oftopics and usually took place in the staff cafeteria or inthe home economics room:After class [name of teacher] was upset because shefelt the students had behaved badly. She said she71didn't know what to do with the boys who dominated thelesson. She said she didn't know what to do to get thegirls to participate....We talked about this until[name of teacher] arrived to put something in thestoreroom. She sat down with us and asked about howthe study was going. The conversation switched to ourfinances and RRSPs and then to our own experiences asstudent teachers....The bell rang and [name ofteacher]'s students began to arrive for her afternoonclasses. I felt guilty about taking her noon hourinstead of leaving her in peace to gather energy forthe afternoon. (Field Diary, September 29, 1989)My access to conversations with the female and the maleteachers was clearly influenced by our gendered experiences.The formal interviews with students were more difficultthan I had anticipated. While only two students did notreturn their permission slips, many did not show at theinterview time. Understandably, students did not want tospend their lunch hours with me! I considered takingclass-time for the interviews, but decided against thisapproach because it would have meant students falling behindwith their work. I persevered and learned to be thankfulfor fifteen to twenty minutes of a student's time.I had arranged to meet with Rita today. When shearrived she said that she was behind with her Frenchhomework and had to go to see the [French] teacher.She said she was sorry, but she had been sick at theweekend. In some ways I was relieved - I was a bitnervous about meeting her and didn't mind having alittle more time to think about my questions. (FieldDiary, October 11, 1989)My interview with Rita was great. We sat outside onthe grass. The tension was minimal, she seemed relaxedand friendly. She laughed and made me feel at ease!(Field Diary, October 18, 1989)72My attempt to make the student interviews more likeconversations was not always successful. Sometimes I wasforced into a question and answer format. I wondered ifthis was their way of ending the interview as quickly aspossible. I discussed my difficulties with a professorexperienced in research interviewing. He suggested that Iuse only one opening question such as "Tell me what it islike to be..." and then let the student develop theconversation from there.I tried [name of professorrs one question approach,but it didn't work with Jennifer. She could keepsilent longer than I could! She often said 'I don'tknow' and 'What else do you want?' She said she couldonly stay for fifteen minutes. (Field Diary, November1, 1989)The most successful formal interview was with twofemale students. After two "no-shows," the girls asked meif they could be interviewed together. The girls talked toeach other and to me. I asked few questions. They laughed,talked and shared their experiences. This interview was anethnographer's dream come true.I talked informally with the students while they weredoing their work, and when they waited outside of theclassroom. I enjoyed these chats and got to know thestudents individually.When I was waiting outside of the classroom Jay camerunning up to me. He called me 'Ms Eyre' and asked ifit was still alright to hand in his permission slip(for the trip to the port). He told me about the tapehe was carrying in his 'Walkman.' Tina came along andshe too chatted. She showed me a picture of a young73male star....She seemed surprised that I didn't knowwho he was! (Field Diary, November 17, 1989)Throughout the observations and interviews no matterhow hard I tried to overcome the distance between myself andthe participants, clearly I was not one of them. There weretimes when I was apprehensive of them and they of me. Butmy age, my white, heterosexual, middle-class academicposition of privilege, and my own gendered experience nodoubt influenced the kinds of things I was alert to in theclassroom and how I was able to engage in conversation withthe participants. I feel that my experience was similar tothat of Walkerdine (1990) who said, after she watchedfamilies watching videos: "[The participants] clearlyindicated on many occasions that they experienced me assurveillant Other. Their responses to my presence cannot beunderstood without taking this into consideration" (p. 195).Making SenseWhile I added to my growing mountain of observation andinterview protocols, I began the process of analysis. Whiletranscribing my observations and interviews I wroteadditional notes in my field diary which served to direct mythoughts the following day. As Renata Tesch (1990) says,data collection and analysis become integrated and informeach other.To help manage the enormous amount of material I wascollecting I decided to write a summary of my observations74as each section came to a close. Although the summaries ofmy observations of each individual classroom are not in thedissertation, they helped me to organize my thoughts andalerted me to what to look for in subsequent sections. Inother words, the summaries helped me to focus and selectfrom the enormous amount of information that is available toa researcher in a one-hour classroom session.By the end of the school year I had amassed hundreds ofpages of typed observations and interview transcripts.Knowing where and how to start the next stage of analysisseemed a monumental task. My advisor suggested that I beginby writing vignettes of classroom life that spoke to theissue of gender. I read all of my observation protocols andselected major episodes or events that spoke to how genderis socially constructed in the classroom. I wrote thevignettes as if writing passages for a novel. In all, Iwrote about thirty episodes. This was an extremely helpfulexercise. Writing the vignettes brought the sociologicalphrase "the social construction of gender" to life. Thevignettes forced me to be clear about the kinds of evidenceI needed to support my thesis.While reading and re-reading the observation protocolsI knew that, as well as major episodes, there were manysmall incidents that had implications for the socialconstruction of gender. I knew that, collectively, these"snippets" would provide powerful evidence. In previous75ethnographic work, I had highlighted, coded, cut and pastedsuch pieces. I explored computer programs that would savetime with this task. I settled on The Ethnograph, an IBMcompatible, computer program for analyzing ethnographicdata.While saving time in cutting and pasting, the computerprogram forced me to be more meticulous in coding than Imight otherwise have been. I was forced to examine eachline of data and to develop a finite list of code words. Iused code words to indicate what was happening in an event,for example: "silencing," "violence," "helping." I used 98code words for students and 53 code words for teachers.Each line and its code had to be entered into the program.This was a time consuming task, but the reward of retrievingpages of examples to support a specific code word, at thepress of a key, made the work worthwhile.Next, I turned to the interview protocols. Because thescripts were not as dense as the observation protocols, Idecided against using the computer program and instead usedcoloured highlighters. I read and re-read the interviewtranscripts and wrote notes to remind myself how theinterviews could be used with the observation material. Icame back to the interview transcripts many times.At this point in my work I was asked to write a chapterfor publication based on my research. Although this tooktime away from writing the dissertation, in retrospect it76was a most helpful enterprise. Writing the chapter forcedme to move to the next stage, that of re-presenting a pieceof the information I had gathered to the academic community.In re-presenting the information I grouped the codesinto themes or categories. Through constant comparison ofsmaller segments and consideration of negative evidence, Iwas forced to rethink categories again and again. It wasclear to me that the themes did not "emerge" from the textas some would have us believe. I consciously assignedcategories derived from a feminist framework.In deciding on categories or themes to re-present apicture of how gender was constructed in the classrooms, Iwent back into the literature and re-read many of the piecesI had used to frame the proposal. Again, the literature wasmore meaningful to me when I placed it in juxtaposition withmy own research. Looking back over my notes I can see howthe themes shifted and changed as my understanding deepened.When my advisor read my first draft of the chapter for thebook, she said "You've got it!" No doubt she was asrelieved as I was that my work was beginning to make somesense.Taking my work back to the teachers was an importantpart of the analysis. I gave each teacher a copy of theobservation protocols from her or his section, and a copy ofhis or her interview transcripts. Whereas all of theteachers showed an interest in my descriptions of life in77their classrooms, not all of the teachers found time to readthe material in depth. As well, the teachers' knowledge andinterest in gender and education varied. While none of theteachers asked that anything be changed or omitted from thedissertation, most tended to use the classroom observationsto critique their own expertise in a subject area and toevaluate the students' performance, rather than to analyzehow gender was being socially constructed in theirclassrooms. I felt that I lacked the sophisticationnecessary to engage the teachers in ideology critique, assuggested by Lather (1986).Nevertheless, my discussions with the teachers led tohelpful conversations about teaching which informed theanalysis. For example, my concern about teachers notresponding to boys' sexist comments was placed in adifferent perspective when a home economics teacher saidthat she was sometimes embarrassed by the boys' comments,and when technical studies teachers told me that theylistened to the noise of machines rather than what studentswere saying to each other. The woodwork teacher told methat the sound of the machines was an indication to him thatthey were being used correctly and safely. Ideally, theresearch would have been strengthened if I had also givenstudents the opportunity to provide "member checks."At the end of the following school year I met with theteachers to outline the themes that I was using to frame the78dissertation. Again, the teachers did not ask for anychanges or additions. Instead they disclosed examples fromtheir present teaching that either supported or refuted whatI was saying. The teachers' comments suggested to me thattheir sensitivity to gender issues in their own classroomshad heightened since last we met.Although I gave careful attention to accuracy offindings, at best ethnographic accounts are only partialtruths and are necessarily incomplete. I do not claim tospeak about all coeducational home economics and technicalstudies classrooms, nor do I claim that the evidencepresented here constitutes a complete, or the only, pictureof the classrooms studied. Observations and interviews aremediated through conventions of research, and through theresearcher's own lens (Atkinson, 1990), as is the writingand the reading of this dissertation. The information ispresented as a beginning point of entry into understandinggender relations and classroom life. Readers must take itfrom here and mediate it through their own experiences.79CHAPTER 4KNOWLEDGE AND COMPETENCEThis chapter deals with the students' responses to thehome economics and technical studies program. It exploreshow students' previous gendered experiences interweave withtheir classroom experiences to produce traditionalstereotypes about who can do domestic and technical work,thereby supporting traditional gender relations and socialinequality.The chapter is organized into three sections. First, Iexplore the intersection of the home economics and technicalstudies curriculum with the different experiences andpreferred ways of knowing that students bring with them tothe classroom. I discuss the students' views of domesticand technical work and their gendered sense of competence ineach area. Second, I examine the students' responses toactivities provided in the home economics and technicalstudies classrooms. Did requiring girls and boys toparticipate in domestic and technical work maintain orchange traditional notions of who should be doing this work?Did it change the value assigned to female and male spheres?Third, I show how the students' regulatory practices arounddomestic and technical work support the notion that girlsbelong in and are better at domestic work, while boys belongin and are better at technical work, thereby supporting thegender division of labour.80Students' Previous Gendered ExperiencesThe students' previous gendered experiences interwovewith their beliefs about who should do domestic andtechnical work and their sense of competence in each area.Interviews with the students raise questions about the fitbetween the home economics and technical studies program andthe students' lived experiences. First, I will examine thestudents' comments about their experiences in domestic andtechnical work.Domestic WorkAs one would expect, all of the girls and a few of theboys were familiar with the language of food and sewing, andwere already socially oriented to work in the home. Thegirls talked to me about their previous experiences indomestic work:Tina: I already knew some of the stuff we made here. Icould do it in a couple of hours by myself...like withmy aunt I usually do everything in half an hour...Imake muffins and macaroni and cheese, I already knewthat years ago. I always make fried rice at home.4-3(32)Jill: Well at home the cloth is not cut. Like it's notalready cut for me. [At home] we have to measure andall that to make our own clothing. 3-4(36)Rita: My dad cooks and cleans and goes to work andeverything. I like sort of help out, sort of like amom does. Like I clean up and I cook and I look aftermy brother and sister cause they're little. 5-47(16)Maria: I don't have time to watch television 'cause Iwork during the night time.Tanya: You do?Maria: Yeah, I help my mom 'cause she works. Shecleans out these offices and it's pretty hard for her81all by herself. With this other lady she does likenine floors - and it's big - and I help sometimes. Mysister has [my mother] babysit. She works at therestaurant where I work. 1-3(24)Maria's comments portray a future where her extra-familialwork would be an extension of her kitchen and add to herwork load at home.A few boys possessed some basic domestic skills. Theytold me they had learned sewing skills from their mothers inthe home sewing industry, and cooking skills from women athome:Trung: I already learned how to use the sewing machine.My mother taught me. I learned by watching my mother.I don't make stuff. I just mend stuff, rips and stuff.I just mend it. 11-1(53)Thanh: Cooking was the easiest cause you haveexperience with it. You might do a little yourself oryou might see your mom do it. I just cook formyself...eggs or something. 14-4(12)For most boys domestic work was a new experience:David: It's not difficult really. It's just knowingwhat to use I guess. I don't know some of those thingsthat we use. Like she says to use these things and Iforget. Just one little thing like a wooden spoon, andthen she gets mad at me when I ask her what to use.17-4(40)Jaspal: I know how to iron pretty good now, better thanbefore...Before it was hard to sew. Now it's easy,just putting the thing in. Like I didn't know whichway to sew at all, it was confusing....I can thread theneedle now and I can do those stitches on the outsideand those on the inside. 15-3(22)Being oriented to domestic work required using a specificlanguage and the boys were not as proficient in its use as82were girls. A boy commented on the boys' and girls'proficiencies in domestic work:Jaspal: Most girls already know how to cook and how tosew. You can watch them and learn something. Even onthe first sewing day they knew what to do already, likefor ironing....The food they made looked good. Itlooked better than ours. 15-5(28)The girls' previous gendered experiences better preparedthem for domestic work in home economics.Technical WorkBoth girls and boys had learned some technical skillsin elementary school. The students told me they hadprevious school experiences working with wood:Rita: I love making stuff out of wood. In my[elementary] school they had a woodworking class....Ilike making stuff and bringing it home....We made boxesand things, just boxes to put stuff in and to sit onyour dresser. 5-38(3)Danny: It's been fun. We did a whole bunch of stuff.I already knew how to make that stuff anyway. We did[woodwork] before [in school]. 10-1(24)Some students had worked with wood and electronicsoutside of the classroom. A few of these students weregirls:Tina: We made a bird house. My dad taught me.Jill: My sister's clubhouse fell. Just two months ago,in the summer, she wanted to build a club house for herclub. I was helping her. It was mostly done, but thenone of the nails fell and the whole thing fell rightdown. 3-33(1)Jill: I did [soldering] two years ago.LE: What did you do?Jill: Almost the same as this at home on my own. Justfooling around. 6-246483But most of the students who talked to me about working withwood and with electronics outside of school were boys:Ptan: I've done woodworking. I've made boats, cars,pencil holders....My dad's kind of a mechanic and hehas all the tools. 20-4(5)Bao: It's fun. I enjoyed it when I was small. Iworked with my dad he teached me. It's easy for me todo that. I learned in Grade 5 too. We made atotem-pole and a speaker box. I work with my dad aswell, we fix the boat. 19-1(1)Trung [to LE]: I did [a circuit] at home on a breadboard. I used different capacitors, they were higherthan the ones we have here and it blinked slower, and Ifound if I used a weaker battery it would blink faster.6-2914LE: How come you already know about this?Rick: I learned with computers. I work with computers.I take things apart, radios, computers. 6-1066The boys told me they also learned about electronics fromtelevision and from magazines:Trung: My father brings home books on electronics,right. They are really meant for one of thoseelectronic institutes. My dad brings them home, orborrows them from his friends. He gets them from workand I have to read them. 6-2939LE: How do you know about this equipment?Jay: We have them. It's just natural.Trung: We watch TV. [Such as?] We watch "BeyondTomorrow", "Discovery," "The World of Science."Jay: We have them in our car and all that stuff.Ray: They have books and magazines too.LE: Do you buy them?Trung: No, we just look at them in the library andstuff.Jay: We just read them. 6-682None of the girls talked enthusiastically aboutelectronics. In trying to find reasons for the girls' lackof interest in electronics, I asked Maria and Tanya whatthey thought about electronics magazines:84Tanya: I saw this one I think. I'm not like reallystrong into computers.Maria: I only look at - like fashion magazines.Tanya: Yeah, that's what I look at.Maria: And those teen magazines, like "Teen Beat."Tanya: Like stuff that have like pictures of stars.Maria: Yeah, especially the stars you like, but those -no - 'cause they look so boring. Actually if they lookso boring on the front - Does this look interesting?Tanya: If you were like - well, it looks hard doesn'tit? Like all these wires. I don't know how people doit.Maria: If I got this picture [inside of a computer] ona book - that picture, even with no writing on it - Iwouldn't even open the book. Since it looks boringoutside it must be boring inside.Tanya: So complicated 'cause you don't know what thehell - 'cause they might tell you something about somekind of name in electronics and you don't know what itis.^1-24(31)Maria and Tanya are convinced that electronics is "hard,""boring," and beyond their capabilities.Most boys were already familiar with the language andsome of the skills required in woodwork and electronics.Boys, more than girls, were already socially oriented tothis kind of technical work.Who Should Do Domestic and Technical Work? In interviews I tried to find out the students' beliefsabout who should do domestic and technical work. Vinh toldme that women should cook because they are better at it:LE: Why is it important for girls to learn how to cook?Vinh: They usually cook. Like in my family the womencook. My uncle and them will cook too, but mainly myaunt and my mom. All my cousins are women and theycook. They cook better too, so they should be cooking.14-6(7)85But most students said that girls and boys should know howto cook. The girls insisted that knowing how to cook wasimportant:LE: Of all the units which do you think will be themost useful to you in the future?Tanya: I think foods. You have to cook. You have to.It's not like someone's going to serve you every singleday for the rest of your life. 1-23(24)Tina: If boys don't know how to cook then how couldthey live? And if you live by yourself alone, then youhave to cook. Do you live by yourself?LE: Yes. What about people who don't live bythemselves? Who do you think should do the cookingthen?Tina: My dad does the cooking and my mom does - likeprepare and all that stuff - and if my dad is reallytired then my mom cooks. Like they each take turnscooking for us, 'cause I have another sister. 4-11(1)And the boys told me that cooking was something they "might"need to know:David: Maybe cooking will help you in the future, kindof thing. To help you cook 'cause your wife or husbandisn't gonna cook for you everyday. You know you'reexpected to do your share. So cooking will help more.Some of [the boys] don't think that way but. 17-8(33)Jaspal: Because when you move out of the house you needto know how to cook, or when there's nobody home andyou are hungry you have to know how to [cook].15-5(10)In talking about sewing most students reflected moretraditional stereotypes. Most students said that sewing wasimportant for girls:LE: Is it important for girls to know how to sew?Maria: Well, yeah, so we know how to make things lateron.Tanya: So we don't have to spend money, you know. Likeif we don't really have enough money we can just makeclothes....You could be like anything, like a nurse andyour nurse suit - your thing - might rip and you mighthave to sew it up. You're going to have to do it when86you grow up anyways, or if you are rich you could buy anew one [laughed] 1-14(27)LE: Why do you say that it is important for girls toknow how to sew?Tina: 'Cause if they want to make their own clothingand the parents, usually the mom or the grandmotherisn't there and you are stuck, and the fabric is rippedand you have to sew it by yourself. 4-5(24)And, Trung said that sewing might be useful for boys:Trung: You might have to sew something for yourself andyou don't have other people to do it, so you can do ityourself. 11-1(43)But most students said that sewing was not as important forboys. For example, although Bao and Ray both sewed well,they thought that women should sew for men:Bao: It's a waste of time learning to sew. I'm notgonna use it. I'm not gonna be sewing. I get mysister to do it, or I'll buy a new one. I just know alittle. That's good enough. 6-1303LE: Is it important to know how to sew?Ray: Sewing may be important if you move out and arenot married yet, and have to fix your own clothes.LE: What if you were married?Ray: No, because I think the female should do the easystuff. In my family my mom does that stuff and my dadworks. 13-2(11)To Bao and Ray sewing is "a waste of time" and "easy stuff,"and they delegated it to women.Some girls said that boys did not need to know how tosew because women would sew for men:LE: Should boys know how to sew?Tina: Only if they want to become a fashion designer.LE: What about sewing their own clothes?Tina: No, not really. I think their parents would dothat for them, like their grandmother or their mother -like somebody older than them. 4-5(12)LE: Should boys know how to sew?Tanya: No.87Maria: Yeah, I think so.Tanya: No, you do?Maria: They should know how to do things too, you know.Tanya: I think - well not really. Like maybe in theirlifetime they may never have to do it.Maria: Well, at least they've done it.Tanya: Well, maybe their wifes (sic) will do it.Maria: Yeah, or their moms will do it. 1-14(36)Although Maria, initially, said that boys should know how tosew, Tanya's comments caused her to think differently on thetopic.And Tanya and Maria disagreed about the division oflabour in domestic work and child care:[Following a discussion of how they would organizetheir paid work to look after their children-]LE: Neither of you have mentioned that the father couldtake care of the kids.Maria: I dunno.Tanya [loudly]: Husbands aren't supposed to stay home.Maria: That would be a good change, though. You needsome time off for yourself because taking care of kidsis - well I love kids and I'd take care of them -Tanya: I think the dad should go to work.Maria: Well, sometime he can take care of himself.Tanya: They have more strength - and - well, I don'tknow it's just the way it goes - like every family islike that.Maria: I picture myself that if the dad takes care ofthe kids then everything would go wrong - everything.Tanya: The dad buying the groceries? I don't know. Ican't picture that.Maria: Dad changing diapers?Tanya: I don't know. Dad with the cart with all thesekids...going through the groceries and kicking all thestuff - it's hard.LE: Why can't you picture men doing this work?Maria: 'Cause it isn't easy being a mother. She isgoing 24 hours.Tanya: Guys don't really know how to do anything...howto do all the stuff like...how about say they'reirresponsible and abuse the kids and stuff? ^'Causeyou go to the grocery and you mostly see girls, youknow like wifes [sic] and mothers. You don't reallysee guys around the grocery. Mostly you know thehusband tells the wife to get the groceries while theywork.88LE: Do dads ever get groceries and things?Tanya: No. My dad doesn't do that. I don't know why.Sometimes my dad drives my mom cause my mom doesn'tknow how to drive. So my dad drives my mom to thegrocery store. Sometimes they go in together and shop,but mostly it's just my mom goes by herself, or withme. 1-18(27)Whereas Maria's comments again suggest that she is beginningto think about the possibility of shared responsibility fordomestic work, Tanya's comments reflect her acceptance ofgendered norms. Both girls clearly value the importance ofdomestic work and child care.The students' comments about domestic work reflecttheir daily experiences. Girls' and boys' daily experiencesin families had an enduring influence on their views aboutwho should do domestic work.Similarly, most students held traditional beliefs aboutwho should do technical work. Girls and boys questioned theappropriateness of technical work for girls. For example,although Lily was proficient in all areas of technicalstudies her comments reflect her acceptance of gender normsabout who can and who cannot do woodwork and why:Lily: The boys are better in woodworking, right? Theyare strong. They know how to use the things betterthan the girls. Like girls don't really know. Likewhen a father has a garage and everything, boys justlike those things and they just go. 9-4(23)Other girls made similar comments about their sense ofcompetence in technical work:Tina: You need a lot of strength. Like to make allthis stuff. Like I like cleaning up, but like it'sjust too much work. You have to cut and shape and makeit smooth and paint it over. I don't know. 4-2(33)89Tanya: I can't really believe I'll learn this stuff.It's so hard - so complicated. 1-11(48)These girls emphasized their inadequacies in woodwork andelectronics. They saw themselves as neither bright, strong,tough, nor skillful enough to do technical work.Maria's comments were grounded in her own negativeexperiences with hand and power-tools:Maria: In my case I don't like working with the bigmachines. My dad used them and he got hurt a lot oftimes. I'm scared of them especially when we had toput the duck and curve it around and I broke the needle(blade) when we had to curve it around. I didn't likedoing it. My dad cut his finger like that. 1-15(1)Only one student spoke positively about girls andtechnical work. Jaspal said:LE: Is electronics important for girls?Jaspal: Yeah. They should learn about it too, becausethey might need to use it one day.LE: When would they use it?Jaspal: On a boat maybe, or something, an airplane. Idon't know. 15-4(53)Although none of the other students said that girlsshould not learn how to do technical work, most felt that itwas more important or more appropriate for boys. Forexample:LE: Is it important for girls to take electronics?Tanya: Only if they want to. Like if they don't wantto I don't think they should have to.LE: What about boys?Maria: Yeah, it's good for them. My brother-in-law hemajored in electronics.LE: Why do you say boys should take electronics, butnot girls?Maria: Well, it's good for [boys] in the future. Theyalready got a taste of [electronics] and of woodworkand all the other things for when they are older.Tanya: Girls don't really want to -Maria: Well, maybe some do.90Tanya: I know, but girls mostly don't want to.Maria: I guess they find it more of a man's job.Tanya: I'm not that tough.Maria: I certainly wouldn't be able to handle all ofthese machines. 1-15(1)LE: What makes you think that girls don't want to takewoodwork?Danny: I dunno. Maybe the girls think that becauseit's gonna be really messy and gettin' all dirty andeverything...'cause all that sawdust and everythingwould get in their hair and on their clothes and stuff.They did okay, though. They went on with it prettygood and they still looked nice after. 10-3(11)LE: Is technical studies important for girls?David: I don't know. I don't think that any of thegirls like it much....You won't see many girls inwoodwork or something like that. I just find that theyhave different interests. They probably likesewing...like they may take like sewing or foods,something that they like. Electronics would besomething that guys would like, right?LE: Why might guys like electronics more than girls?David: I don't know - just something that happens.17-7(43).Because David did not see women doing technical work,understandably, he assumed that women were not interested indoing this work.Most boys, however, did speak positively about theimportance of technical studies for boys:Vinh: Well, it teaches you how to make things foryourself, like drawers to put things in....If you'rereally good you can make your own stereo or something.I don't know. 14-3(36)Bao: In the future you could be a handyman orsomething, like when you have a house you can fixthings, or maybe like a hobby - you can make thingswhen you have nothing to do. 19-4(7)Jaspal: Well, you might need [electronics]. If youhave [a receiver] and you're in trouble or somethingyou could get help. You need to know how to use theradio so you could call. I guess it's important to91know how it works. [Why?] Because it just seems thatit is important. 15-4(42)The students' comments about who should do domestic andtechnical work reflect their lived experiences. Many ofthese examples show the power of daily experience over whatgoes on in classrooms, and the strength of students'stereotyped notions about women and men.Classroom ExperiencesClassroom observations revealed the students' responsesto the home economics and technical studies program. Thestudents' classroom experiences intertwined with theirprevious gendered experiences and contributed to their senseof competence in domestic and technical work. Because homeeconomics and technical studies were taught separately, Iwill examine each area individually. First, I will brieflydescribe the activities offered in the home economics andtechnical studies program.All sections of home economics and technical studies,with the exception of family management, dealt mainly withsome basic skills required in domestic and technical work.In home economics students learned how to prepare simplemeals, how to operate a sewing machine, and how to do basichand sewing. In technical studies students learned how touse some hand and power-tools, and the beginnings of pencildesign and graphics.92In describing their courses to students, the teacherstalked mainly about the skills that students needed to knowin order to make certain products. The food and nutritionand clothing and textiles teachers said:I don't intend to make you sewers....You may never sewagain....I'd like to introduce you to a new machine.You learn to master the sewing machine. You control it- it doesn't control you. So you can allsucceed....You are going to make a kite and apincushion....We learn about the machine. Learn tomaster and control it and learn to make simpleprojects. 3-94I'm trying to introduce you to what foods and nutritionis all about, and the importance of it. It just isn'tcooking and eating....I want you to learn about whyfood is important for the body....I'm also going toteach you some basic techniques...how to make a saucewithout it going lumpy....You will learn how to worksafely in the kitchen....I teach you the Canadian wayof tablesetting....It's not the only way or the correctway but if you are going to be working in foodinstitutions then you will be expected to know theCanadian way. 5-2(47)Similarly, technical studies teachers focused onproducts that the students would be making in the classroom:If you are a good class you might make three things.[Holding up a bookrack] How many have VCRs at home?This will hold 6-10...tapes.[The teacher also showed students a note holder, in theshape of a duck, and a pencil box.] 2-137You will make, and you have probably heard about this,a 'Happy Face.' You have to put together a workingcircuit. This will take most of the time....I guessthere will be a few people not taking Electronics 9,therefore, I will include a unit on safety in the home.6-148You are going to design a clock face. You can make theface any shape you want. Then you have to decide whatthe numbers are like. Then you have to design thehands. You will have to think how easy it is to readthe numbers and how attractive it is going to be.4-65493The teachers placed emphasis on manipulative skills andtechniques and on meeting standards defined by the teacher.The family management section dealt with interpersonalrelationships and family interaction. The teacher includeddiscussions about gender issues. For example, when talkingto the students, the family management teacher said:I am asking you to think about the roles of women andmen and to question them....I want you to be able toobserve television critically and be critical of howthat image is portrayed. 1-688Gender issues mainly included gender roles and female-malerelationships in families.Home Economics In the home economics classroom girls and boystypically worked separately. Despite this separation, therewere similarities and differences between and among thegirls and the boys in their responses to the home economicsprogram. In the food and nutrition classroom students withprevious experience in domestic work were more likely towork seriously and competently, and most of these studentswere girls. The following excerpt shows how Lily, Poonam,and Tina approached their work in the kitchen:[Lily, Tina, and Poonam all wore clean, white apronsand their hair was tied back with ribbons. They wereready to start.]Tina: Lily, can you rol] my sleeves up for me?[Lily obliged]Poonam: Do we need a double boiler?[Lily nodded]Tina: Boil the water, hurry up.Poonam: I already got the pot on.Lily: Put a lid on.94[Lily inverted a large lid on the pot as the teacherhad demonstrated.]Poonam: Are we supposed to double [the recipe]?Lily: I think we are.[Lily collected ingredients from the teacher's supplytable, using a tray as the teacher had told them to do.Poonam read the recipe. Tina got out a double-boilerfor the sauce. Poonam put pasta in the pot, replacingthe lid. Poonam then filled the sink with hot soapywater ready for the dishes. The teacher came into theunit.]Teacher: No lid! Remember what I said [to leave offthe lid while cooking]. How much oil did you put in[the pot]?Lily: I didn't. She [Poonam] put it in.Teacher: Was the water boiling? Who put the pasta in?[The teacher was interrupted by David asking for help.She moved to David's unit. The girls were silent for afew minutes. Tina sliced carrots. Lily washed dishes.Poonam measured flour for the sauce.]Lily: That's not flour! That's [powdered] milk!Poonam: No it isn't, milk's over there.Lily: Oh.Poonam: The oven's not on, you guys.[Lily turned on the oven. There was some confusionabout how hot the oven should be. Tina raised herhand, trying, unsuccessfully, to get the teacher'sattention. Poonam set the table, following theteacher's directions. Tina confidently drained thepasta and poured it into serving dishes. She put thedishes in the warming oven. Tina poured juice for thegroup, including the boys in the adjoining unit.Poonam washed the dishes, Lily dried, and Tina put thedishes in the cupboards. They all cleaned and driedthe counter before sitting down to eat. Tina put thepasta dish on the table. Lily gave napkins to eachperson, including the boys in the adjoining unit.]Poonam: What do you serve it with?Tina: What do you think - a spoon![Tina served the pasta to each girl.]Tina [to Poonam]: Soak the dish.[Poonam soaked the dish in the sink.]....[After the meal Tina washed the dishes, Poonam driedthem and put the dishes away. Lily swept the floor,meticulously. Tina lifted her feet as Lily came bywith the broom. Lily swept under my chair.]Lily [to LE]: It's clean - just to be sure.[Poonam wiped the counter and dried it with a towel.Lily wiped the counter underneath the heat resistantmat by the stove. At some point, all three girls wipedand dried the counter, dried the sink, and polished thetaps.]95Tina: Miss [name of teacher] we're ready to go!Teacher [glancing in the unit]: Okay, go.Tina [smiling]: Yeah, thanks.[Tina, Poonam and Lily, carefully, folded up theiraprons and ran out of the door.] 5-47(8)Lily, Tina, and Poonam dovetailed their tasks and went toeach other for help when in difficulty. They were nervousabout making a mistake and they corrected each other whenthe teacher's or their own expectations were not met. Thegirls emphasized standards of cleanliness and efficiency indomestic work.A few girls participated in domestic tasks as if theywere playing a game. Jill and Tanya usually worked thisway:[Jill and Tanya listened to the teacher's instructions.They were wearing clean, white aprons and their hairwas tied back with elastics provided by the teacher.They were ready to begin.]Tanya [rearranging her hair]: I feel like a total fool.[The teacher reminded students of their "housekeeping"duties.]Tanya: I get to sweep. Ugh!Jill: Everybody has to wash their hands.Tanya: I washed mine. Are you satisfied? I'm gonnafix my hair and then I'll wash my hands again....[At the end of the lab.]Jill: Now I have to dry the sink. [Jill dried the sinkand polished the taps.]Tanya [sarcastically]: I'm housekeeper. I've got tosweep the floor. It's so bad!Tanya [sweeping around the unit]: There's totallynothing to clean on the floor. I always sweep at home,but not with a brush like this broom. 5-16(08)Although Tanya responded less enthusiastically to work inthe kitchen than Jill, she still conformed to domesticity.This example shows how peer pressure produces socialexpectations of gender.96Other girls were not so enthusiastic about their workin the food and nutrition classroom. Maria and Jenniferusually carried out their work routinely:[Maria and Jennifer talked and laughed together intheir unit at the beginning of class.]Teacher: Stop and listen when I am talking![Maria and Jennifer stopped talking, but continued tolaugh quietly together as the teacher gave instructionsfor the lab. When the teacher had finished speaking,Jennifer went to the supply table to collect theingredients while Maria got out the equipment.]Maria [holding up two bowls]: Which one do I use?Jennifer [pointing to the large bowl]: That one.Teacher [to class]: Have you turned on your ovens?[Maria turned on the oven. Jennifer arranged theingredients on the counter and wiped the tray beforeputting it back in the cupboard. Maria filled themuffin tray with paper cups while Jennifer measured andmixed the ingredients together. Maria watched quietlyas Jennifer mixed the batter and filled the cups.Maria washed the dishes as Jennifer finished usingthem. While doing this the girls were very quiet.]Jennifer: What do we do? Do we just put it in the ovennow?Maria: Yeah, I guess so.Jennifer: How long? Maria, how long for?[Maria shrugged. Jennifer put the tray in the oven.Maria finished washing the dishes and wiped thecounter. Jennifer put the dishes away. When they hadfinished they both sat down beside the stove andwatched the muffins through the glass door of the oven.Jennifer filed her nails as she waited for the muffinsto bake.]Jennifer: What time does [the dance] start?Maria: Seven, I think.Jennifer [taking a toothpick and testing the muffins]:The lady who did my hair said if I didn't like it shewould do it better for me. Leave [the muffins] forjust a few minutes, just to be sure.[Maria stretched and yawned. She filled the sink withwater ready for the muffin tin.]Jennifer took the muffins out of the oven and arrangedthem up into two groups.Maria: We need to wash [the muffin tin] up.Jennifer: I'll get a dishcloth. Are you going to washor do you want me to do it?Maria: I'll do it.[Jennifer sat quietly at the table while Maria washedand dried the muffin tin. She put the muffins into97paper bags for them each to take home. Without waitingfor the teacher to check their unit, Jennifer and Marialeft the room immediately when the bell rang.][5-14(34)]What struck me here was how Jennifer and Maria had adoptedthe routine of domestic work. They carried out their workwithout comment, or they talked about other things. Theclassroom activity did not provide a challenge for thesegirls. Nor did they appear to achieve any satisfaction fromi t.Students who lacked previous experiences in domesticwork had more difficulty in the food and nutritionclassroom, and most of these students were boys. Most boyslacked the knowledge and skills that the teacher expected ofthem:[David and Anthony were making cinnamon biscuits. Johnand Jaspal were making cheese biscuits. They worked inthe same unit. The teacher came into their unit.]Teacher: Now why isn't somebody working there [space atthe counter]? [To David] Work up at the counter, notat the table. You need a fork to mix it with, not awooden spoon, and get your pastry board out. Once itstarts to form a lump take it out and put it on theboard, like I did. Then add some liquid to the bowl.Jaspal [to John]: How do you chop the cheese up [forthe biscuits]?John [describing a grater]: You use the thing you chopit with. You know, like carrots. You sort of sliceitTeacher [taking David's dough out of the bowl]: Okay,knead it then. Where's your recipe? Get kneading.[Teacher left the unit.]David: 'Knead,' what's 'knead?'Anthony: I dunno. Beat the shit out of it man. Beatthe shit out of it, to make it stick together.David [squeezing the dough in his hands]: It's weird,weird.Anthony [adding water to the dough in David's hands]:Hey, add some water.98David [holding up his hands stuck with dough]: Oh,that's gross man. See man. It's wet.Anthony [impatiently]: Mix it in man, just mix it in.Teacher [returning to the unit]: You've got it toowet. I said, just add a little water, not make soup.When I say 'a little' I mean a little. Add slowly andsprinkle. When are you boys going to get organized?You're supposed to get all of your ingredients out atonce, with your tray. Find out what you need first.[The teacher noticed that Jaspal was using a woodenspoon to mix his dough.] You don't work with a woodenspoon. I said use a fork!Jaspal: Does it really matter though?Teacher: Yes it does. I said toss lightly - that's adifferent technique - with muffins, I said use a woodenspoon.Anthony [to teacher]: Do you know where we get thecinnamon?Teacher: It's in your unit.Stuart [came to the teacher from another unit, bowl inhand]: How come it's [the dough] so dry?Teacher: Take it out of the bowl and put it on yourboard. Then add liquid to what is left.Stuart [stayed in the unit, added water to his bowlmaking the dough very wet]: Where's the flour?Somebody's swiped the flour? Get me some flour!David: It's right there. [David added flour toStuart's bowl]David [to teacher]: Do we roll it out now?Teacher [loudly]: Where are your instructions?David [impatiently]: I know. I'm just saying do weroll it out now?Jaspal [to teacher]: We need your help. It's notworking. 5-27(42)This example highlights most boys' lack of knowledge andexperience in domestic work. Jaspal's question "Does itreally matter though?" is an important one. Because thework was unfamiliar to him he was able to raise a questionthat did not occur to those for whom the technique was takenfor granted.Unlike girls, many boys found the teacher's standardsamusing. For example, students were expected to set a tableand to sit down as a group and eat the food they had99prepared. Most girls did this quickly and without question.They knew what they were expected to do. For most boys,this was a new experience and they reacted in differentways:[Jay, Thanh, and Vinh were setting the table for"breakfast," occasionally looking at the teacher'sdirections pinned on the wall of each unit. Jay putpaper napkins under each fork. He put cups on thetable and mistakenly put tea plates instead of saucersunder each cup. Thanh did the same at the other sideof the table.]Thanh: What do we need these ["saucers"] for?Vinh: I dunno. In case you get the table wet.[Jay arranged triangles of toast on the side of eachplate as the teacher had done.]Thanh: We forgot cherries [for the fruit salad].Jay: What do we need cherries for?Thanh: I dunno. For decoration, I guess.[Jay put cherries on top of the fruit salad. Thanhbrought the omelettes to the table. He began to fillthe sink with water for the dishes as the teacher hadtold them to do.]Jay: Wash later - eat now! We have lots of time.Enjoy! [The boys sat down at the table.]Jay: We forgot coconut.Thanh: I hate coconut.Vinh: There's supposed to be a spoon here.Jay [laughing as he used a serving spoon to stir hishot chocolate]: Who cares!Vinh: What's that [knife by the plate] for?Jay: I dunno. It says up there [diagram on the wall].Vinh: What do we eat with?Thanh: I dunno.Jay: This [fork] is too small. Pass me another one.[Thanh leaned across to the drawer and retrieved alarge fork for Jay.]Jay: Are we supposed to show [the teacher] before weeat?Vinh [laughing and rearranging his eggs as if they hadnot been touched]: Oh Oh![The teacher came into the unit]Teacher: These are bread and butter plates! These[holding up a saucer] are saucers.[Boys started to laugh.]Teacher: And that's a serving fork, it's not for eatingwith!Jay: It was in [the drawer].[Boys laughed]100Teacher: Everything has a purpose. So think. It's notfunny! [The teacher left the unit.]Thanh: Who wants more fruit salad?Boys [laughing; in unison]: I do, I do.Jay [to Thanh]: You're eating with a spoon and fork![Boys laughed]Thanh [laughing while he cut the marshmallows in hishot chocolate with a large knife]: This is fun!Vinh [emptying the left over salad into his own bowl]:Want some, Thanh? I guess not.[Boys laughed] 5-38(10)Again the boys' questioning of the everyday helps to keepdomestic work in perspective. The girls, on the other hand,rarely questioned the ordinariness of domestic work.Although most boys were intent on meeting the teacher'sexpectations in domestic work, none of the boys emphasizeddomesticity. Jaspal and Patrick usually did what theteacher asked:[All of the students had left for lunch, except Jaspaland Patrick. The boys were still cleaning up:]Teacher [looking at Jaspal's pizza pan]: I call thatgreasy. Do you call that clean? Get some 'SOS' and goafter that. [She showed Jaspal how to use the 'SOS'pad.] Rub hard. Can you see the difference?Jaspal: Oh, yeah.[The teacher left the room. The boys continuedcleaning for about ten minutes. They washed all oftheir dishes, put them away in the cupboards, rinsedthe sink and wiped the counter top.]Patrick: Okay, let's go.Jaspal: Yeah. Hey, the chairs have to be put up.[The boys put the chairs on the tables before leaving.]5-67(50)Other boys, like Stuart, did enough work just to getby:[Stuart was washing dishes. He used a drainer on thecounter, without a tray underneath. The water wasrunning from the tray on to the counter and over theboys' books, left on the counter. Dirty dishes were inthe sink, on the counter, and on the table in the unit.Hung brought his own plate to the sink.]101Stuart: Take off all the food! You don't put them inthe sink that way! Go get some towels to dry with.[David collected the placemats, shook them over thetable and the floor, and folded them neatly. Stuartwashed the frying pan. Hung dried the dishes.]Stuart [to Hung]: Put it on the bottom so [the teacher]can't see it. Clean off the table, that's what shechecks.[Hung put the plates in the cupboard. He placed themhaphazardly.]Chau [to Hung]: Big ones [plates] go with big ones.Stuart: Hey guys, clean off the table buddies. Justwipe it off.[Ray wiped the table with a cloth, caught the crumbs inhis hand, and then let the crumbs fall to the floor.]Stuart: Miss [name of teacher] can you check us?Teacher: Are you ready?Stuart: Yes, right on time. 5-39(39)Although Stuart was the perpetrator the other boys compliedwith doing the minimum amount of domestic work required bythe teacher. Noteworthy here is the boys' lack of knowledgeabout domestic work. For example: Stuart did not use atray under the dish drainer; Ray had adopted the routine ofcatching table crumbs in his hand, but then dropped them onthe floor; and, unlike the other boys, Hung did not know toscrape off his plate before putting it into the sink, or howto stack plates in a cupboard.Some boys were reluctant to engage in domestic work inthe kitchen and were continually chastised by the teacher:[Jaspal, Patrick, David and Anthony worked as a group.After the meal, Jaspal and Patrick washed dishes whileDavid and Anthony sat talking at the table.]Teacher: David, can't you do anything but sit? Thereare jobs to do. You're housekeeper, sweep the floor![David picked up the broom and wafted it, aimlessly,across the floor. He didn't use a dustpan, butdirected the crumbs into the middle of the room.]Teacher: Anthony, just because you're finished mixing,doesn't mean your work is finished.Anthony: So.102[Anthony remained seated. David joined Anthony,holding the broom as he talked.]Teacher: Anthony, you have done nothing for twentyminutes. I expect you to help the team.Anthony: What do I do?Teacher: You're supposed to support the team. [Theteacher moved to the girls' side of the room.] I thinkyou are almost done, girls!Anthony: The bell's gonna ring and we're not gonna beready.[Jaspal and Patrick continued to wash the dishes. Thecounter and table were sticky with dough and coveredwith clean and dirty dishes.]Teacher [to Anthony and David]: You had better getbusy and help. The [oven] light's still on, thestove's not clean. Get busy!David [to Jaspal]: Anything else you guys?Jaspal: Yes, you dry.David: I'm not gonna dry. I'm the housekeeper.[David returned to Anthony at the table. The bellrang. All of the girls left the room. All of the boyswere still cleaning up.]David [picking up his books]: I have to go. I have amath test.Anthony: Talk about unorganized people.Teacher: Well, why don't you help them?David: What could I do?Teacher: Well, is the light off? Is the stove clean?It's not!David [slamming his books down]: I'm getting pissedoff. I have a major quiz today. Two quizzes in oneday!Anthony [pacing the floor]: We're gonna be late.Teacher: Okay, Anthony you can go. Your mark's prettybad anyway. I think you boys better read your dutyschedule about what to do.[The teacher took the towel from Jaspal.]Teacher: Okay, off you go too, but that isn't doneproperly. It's dirty behind the sink, the sink isn'tcleaned out, and the floor is a mess! [The teacherwiped the crumbs and water from behind the sink,cleaned the counter, and rinsed and dried the sinkready for her next class.] 5-31(14)This example illustrates how most of the boys were less selfdirected in domestic work. Most girls, probably because oftheir previous experiences in domestic work, or perhapsbecause they were less resistant to it, were able to103coordinate their tasks and usually helped each other morereadily than most of the boys.In clothing and textiles girls and boys were equallyaccomplished at sewing, but demonstrated their interest inthis kind of domestic work in different ways. Most boyswere more outwardly enthusiastic than most girls. Most boyssaid they loved what they were doing, they raced to finishfirst, jostled for the teacher's attention, and talked oftenabout who, among the boys, was going to get the highestmark, and who was going to win. The girls' enthusiasm wasdifferent. Whereas some girls said they were bored in theclassroom, they talked to me and to each other about theirinterests in fashion and in making clothes.For example, the students had to practice using thesewing machine by sewing on paper. Though one girl said sheenjoyed what she was doing:Tina [sewing on paper]: That was fun!Jill [disgusted tone]: It's fun?Tina: I've never done that before, that's all. 3-335Most girls were not similarly enthused:Tanya: We were making clothes [in previous school].Jennifer: Yeah. What do we do - sew paper.Maria: Are you bored, Tanya?Tanya: Yeah...I'm finished. It's so boring.Maria: So am I. 3-1375Most boys, on the other hand, were excited about sewing:Jay [sewing on paper]: I love it! It's fun. 3-592Rick: Isn't it weird when you put [the stitchregulator] on different lengths? 3-727104Stuart: Wow. A computer in a sewing machine.Rick: I know. Computerized patterns. 3-3698And in finishing first:Stuart: Are you at the last part yet, Danny?Danny: Yes.Stuart: Which one?Danny: Second one - third small one - I haven't made amistake yet.Bao: I bet.Danny: I haven't.Stuart: Winner! I'm done. Are these the only sheetswe do? 3-1009Rick: I'm finished.Teacher: Good Rick. What are you going to do now?Anthony: Damn it. Rick got finished before me. Shitface. 3-4986As well, some of the boys turned everyday events intocompetitive activities:[Jay, Stuart, and Danny were pinning their kite piecestogether.]Stuart: Those are my pins!Jay: No, they're not, I didn't take them, man.Stuart [taking pins from Jay]: Let's see three or fourthat's it. [Looking under the table] I've found two orthree![Danny, Stuart and Jay scrambled on the floor lookingfor pins.Bao [looking bored with the boys' behaviour]: There's awhole bunch of pins on her desk. You can use them.Jay [arranging shears in a line beside his work]:People don't steal my pins and get away with it. SeeBao, I have a line of defence. Come near me and die!Stuart: Found two more pins [on the edge of a sewingmachine)!Jay: They're mine.Stuart: Too bad, they're mine! [lifting up the head ofa sewing machine] I've found more![Stuart went around the room looking for pins under thesewing machines.]....Stuart [returning]: I started with one pin today andnow I have lots.Jay: You scab, give me some!Danny: From where?Stuart: Over there, by Vinh and them. They don't checkunder their machines.105Danny [angrily]: I have fucking lots anyway.[Throughout, Bao sat quietly quilting.] 3-55(43)Bao's interests and domestic skills differed from thoseof the other boys in his group. His ability in sewing didnot go unnoticed:Danny [to LE]: Bao's really good at sewing and he'salways the first one finished. I haven't seen no girlfinish before Bao. 10-3(8)The students varied in their response to the activitiesoffered in the clothing and textiles classroom. Stuart toldme he wanted more creativity:I wanted to mix the colours but [the teacher] wouldn'tlet me. 12-2(28)Danny talked about wanting to make other things:[Looking at senior work] What's this? It's nice....Iwanted to do that bag, man. I wanted to make that baginstead of this kite....When you get to Grade 12 youcan come in here and do what you want. 3-3894But it was mostly girls who wanted to make objects that theyperceived as being more useful and more interesting thanwhat they were doing in the classroom:Rita [looking at a poster]: I want to make a poodleskirt like that. 3-1516Maria [looking at senior projects]: Look, they're allmaking shirts. 3-3673Lily [to LE]: They always make kites [in Grade 8], butI want to make the Grade 9 bag....I don't want to makethe kite. It's very useless. You're not going out andplay with it. It's just - just decoration. It's nogood. 9-7(35)The different responses to the clothing and textilessection of the program suggest that most girls were moresophisticated in their interests than most boys. For most106boys sewing was enjoyable because it involved knowing howthings work and because they made it into a competitiveactivity. Girls and some boys, however, were moreinterested in clothing itself than in the activities offeredin the program.The family management section of the program involveddifferent knowledge and competencies. Students wereexpected to share their personal experiences in theclassroom. Although only a few girls and boys actuallyparticipated in this way, only a few of the girls said theyobjected to this approach, whereas many of the boys didobject.In the family management classroom, some girls talkedopenly about their daily lives:[The teacher was talking about combining paid work withwork in the home.]Rita: My mom works. I don't live with her. She buysfood for the microwave and she just puts it in. Shedoesn't make a big deal of it. She has a little babyand she goes to work. 1-616[The teacher was talking about whether a woman shouldchange her name when she marries.]Melanie: My mom is engaged and she is keeping her namethe same as my dad. 1-1395[The teacher was talking about smoking and health.]Jennifer: After my grandfather committed suicide mygrandmother quit [smoking]. She can hardly breathe.She only has one and a half lungs. 1-1467These comments illustrate how the girls related theclassroom discussion to their daily lives. Most boys didnot participate in this way.107Girls and boys who contributed to discussion in thefamily studies classroom risked being ridiculed by thedominant boys:Danny [to teacher]: What if a mom doesn't have her kidsliving with her?Stuart [laughing as if making fun of Danny]: Well! Whodo you live with then?Danny [shouting, looked hurt]: My mom! 1-1577In interviews, students talked about their difficultiesin disclosing personal experiences in the classroom. Forexample, Jill said:Like you don't even know these people real well. Youonly know them by names and it's kind of scary.3-31(2)However, most of the students who objected to talking inclass about personal experiences, were boys:Bao: Sometimes it's too personal. I just put downanything. I don't want to answer. We have to talkabout your children or something. We don't know whatis gonna happen in the future. It's hard to talk aboutwhen you're not there yet. I don't mind the big circle- that's okay, but in the small circles most of usdon't want to talk - too shy or something. I don'tmind talking as long as it's not too personal. 19-1(5)Trung: It was hard trying to express myself. I find iteasier talking about other people than myself....Idon't usually tell other people about my feelings. Ikeep it to myself. 11-1(33)Ptan: Sometimes you feel so nervous because you saystuff that is really intimate, really deep insideyourself. 20-11(5)Vinh: You have to talk about those things that youdon't really know. About your family and everythingthat happens if you are having trouble, or if you winthe lottery or something. None of that happened to me,so I don't know anything. 14-4(21)108Some students wanted to engage in activities other thanthose offered in the family management classroom. Forexample, Rita wanted more personal writing in the course:Rita: It's kinda boring. I like assignments, but shedoesn't give us that many. Like we started one. Wehad to write about me. I liked that one. I likewriting stories and stuff like that, but she doesn'tgive us many. 5-43(9)Other students wanted to talk about topics they perceived asmore relevant to themselves:David: We could have discussed other topics, 'cause wedid mainly the family. We didn't discuss school orstuff like that, or what you're gonna do. 16-4(28)Still others students wanted activities other than talkingand writing:Danny: Family management should have been more thansitting down and writing and stuff. Should have beenmore like acting out things. It would have been a lotfunner and exciting for us, 'cause we just talked.10-4(27)One of the difficulties for the family management teacherwas providing for the students' varied interests andabilities. The teacher did not deal with the difficultiesmany boys had with personal expression in the classroom, anddid not take the notion of experience far enough for otherstudents, especially girls.Given the cultural diversity of the students, I wasinterested in finding out whether the students felt thattheir own knowledge and experience had been included in thehome economics curriculum. Bao was the only boy who talkedat length on this subject:109Bao: Most of it's the same, but in my family girls doall of the work - cooking, washing, and cleaning thehouse. But the [family management] teacher says that'snot fair....I'm used to it. My sisters don't mind,they don't complain...I have four sisters - there's notmuch work. 19-1(18)Bao's comments suggest that the family management teachers'discussion about the division of labour conflicted with hisown experiences. This example also illustrates thedifficulties the family management teacher faced whentalking with students about the sexual division of labour.Most girls did talk to me about the differences betweenwhat they did in the home economics classroom and theirdaily lives. For example:Lily: Well, our religion. But sometimes our religion,I don't really like it and my parents worship thosethings - Buddha and those things, and I feel like 'Whyare we doing this?' I sort of like the Western better.9-6(43)Rita: Well, I live with my dad and my brother andsister. So when everybody talks about their brothersand sisters and their mom and dad in the big house,it's different because I live with my dad, so it's notthe same. Like they say 'You ask your mom' to do this,your mom and all this. Like with me, it's my dad allthe time. But, I lived with my mom so I just think ofthat. Like she's my family too, you know. When theysay 'What does your mom do?' I think of when I'm at mymom's house. I think about what she does. Then when Italk about my dad, I think about my house. 5-46(22)Tanya: I knew how to make all those things.Maria: Just the pizza crust. I didn't know how to makethe crust. We just usually bought it or ordered apizza.Tanya: That's true. 1-12(15)Tanya: The counters so clean and everything's so niceand neat and you know where everything is. It's justnot like home - it's different. Like you're with yourfriends and all that, but when you're at home you makeit by yourself and you eat by yourself. You don't have110to set up the table all so nice with mats and put wherethe forks are, and everything.Maria: And I don't eat with my family and all that. Wejust eat when we have time. 'Cause sometimes my momisn't back from work yet, so I'm usually by myself. Iusually eat by myself.Tanya: All I do is grab a fork...like I don't go likeput napkins and - [laughed].Maria: Imagine setting the table just for one.LE: Do you think you should have to do that in school?Maybe that's not important anymore.Maria: Well, if someone special is coming. Oh, youmean at school.Tanya: School learning and all. Like how to set thetable if you have a party or something.Maria: Well, you'll know what to do. 1-12(26)The students' comments support concerns raised in theliterature about home economics curriculum being rooted inWestern, middle-class assumptions. Bao and Lily did nothave an opportunity to explore their cultural traditions inthe classroom. Rita negotiated her way through discussionsof family living that left her family marginalized. Tanya's"school learning" bore little relation to her everyday life.In avoiding the realities of everyday life, the homeeconomics curriculum fails to engage students inre-examination of their own lives.I asked students whether they would have liked to havehad more of a chance to talk about their own and othercultures in the home economics classroom. Some girls spokereadily on this topic:Lily: We mostly talked about Western culture. I thinkit would be nice - it would be interesting - to knowabout other cultures - how you can make other culturesbetter. Because when you only stick to your own youthink it's not that good and you don't know how luckyyou are. 9-6(20)111Tanya: I don't think we should make all Canadianfood....We should make some from Italians, one fromChinese, one from Vietnamese, one from Canadian....It'skind of pretty hard in six weeks, even though I thinkwe should get a chance to learn about the others.1-32(51)Maria: Yeah, in family management, 'cause all theyreferred to was Canadian people and some Chinese. Itseems like they had forgotten about Spanish andEgyptian, and all that stuff...but, it is too many ifyou have different kids in the one class. 1-32(5)Tanya: We made fried rice - sort of English style.Maria: Yeah, the way Miss [name of teacher] preparedit, it wasn't very Chinese at all. 'Cause when I go tothe Chinese restaurants they put shrimp in it.Tanya: You do not put ham in it. No way, not ham.Maria: She put ham.LE: You would never put ham in Chinese rice?Tanya: No never. I eat hot stuff...like we like tonsof hot stuff. I like really hot stuff. 1-31(27)I asked students what they would tell the class about theirown lives, given the opportunity. Ptan, Maria, and Poonamwere interested and excited about their own knowledge:Ptan: Vietnamese food, um fried fish in this kind ofsauce. It's kind of like an orangey sauce, and shrimp,fried shrimp, and kind of like a watery bowl ofvegetables with some kind of herb you put in there.You eat it with the shrimp and everything. Crab, cornsoup, a whole bunch of things....We eat some kind ofparsley, kind of like a mint, some kind of mint, aminty thing, it's green, all green, a whole bunch ofleaves and we eat it. Yeah, it gives it a minty taste.20-14(15)Maria: Well, my favourite food is this empanadas...it'slike dough. There's meat in it, boiled egg, one olive,some raisins. Mexicans also have this....There's asoup...it's corn, potato, and squash, not squashed up -just pieces, and little bits of macaroni, the smallkind.^1-32(22)Poonam: I would tell them about the religion that wetalk and what kind of clothes we wear. Mostly it'sshiny material like when we go to parties. Like mymom, she wears a sari, right? It's just a long pieceof material that has different designs. It's almost112like a skirt, but it goes all around the waist part andover your shoulder - there's this long thing that comesover it. 2-3(13)These comments were particularly meaningful because Ptan,Maria, and Poonam were usually very quiet students, but onthis subject they spoke confidently and enthusiastically.Given the opportunity to talk about their ownexperiences, girls and quieter boys, might have developedconfidence and voice in the home economics classroom. Thestudents might have been challenged and enthused by anapproach which gave them authority as learners.However, bringing students' experiences into thecurriculum is not straightforward nor without difficulties.Most boys and some girls were reluctant to talk about theirown lives. For example, when I asked the students if theywould have liked to have had an opportunity in familymanagement to talk about their own past experiences, someboys said:Vinh: No, not really. It's too hard. I don't reallyremember anything. It's too hard to talk about whenyou don't really remember anything. You don't reallyremember that much when you are so young. 14-9(27)Bao: No, I wouldn't. It's a personal thing, I guess.I don't want to talk about the past. It's not thatbad, it's okay, but I don't know, maybe people aren'tinterested. People my age want to talk about thefuture. Maybe they think that talking about the pastis too old fashioned. I don't know. Some people mightbe interested, but some people don't want to talk.They want to forget it. Some people if they have neverbeen in the war they would be very interested to knowwhat it is like, but others don't want to remember.19-2(9)113The boys' comments serve as a reminder that students'experiences can be painful, thus calling for a supportiveclassroom environment. Their comments also warn of thedangers of a white, middle-class, "tourist" approach tocultural experiences.Students' comments reflect the diversity of girls' andboys' interests, experiences, and ways of knowing. Theteachers' procedural, technical approach did not allow suchdiversity to be revealed in the classroom.Technical Studies Students' responses to activities offered in technicalstudies reflected their previous gendered experiences andtheir gendered sense of competence in the area. The potencyof students' previous gendered experiences was mostnoticeable in the woodwork and electronics classrooms,where, unless directed by the teacher, girls and boysusually worked separately.Diversity in students' sense of their competence inwoodwork and electronics was most evident when the studentshelped each other. Girls helped girls:Poonam: I can't do this [sawing].Jill: You're a beginner, that's all. 2-1224When Poonam was using the saw, Tina noticed thatPoonam's wood was not in the correct spot. Tina gentlypushed it over into place. 2-1796And, occasionally, girls helped boys:John splashed the brush as he varnished his box. Jilltook the brush from John and quietly showed him how to114varnish. John copied and varnished without splashing.2-1505[Maria was drilling a hole in John's piece of copper.]John: Are you sure you're supposed to poke a hole inthe copper?Maria [sarcastically]: Yes, you're supposed to poke ahole in the copper.[John watched Maria, carefully. He then took over]Maria: It's okay. You don't have to be scared. 6-1259However, boys who had previous experience in technicalwork assumed positions as regular helpers in the woodworkand electronics classrooms. Girls, boys, and the teacherssought the help of these boys:Stuart: Bao, what do we do now?Jaspal: Yeah, Bao what do we do next?Bao: I dunno. Solder on the face here - the smile.Jaspal: That's hard for me. I need to do my otherthing. [He returned to his own bench.]Stuart: Do we have to strip it?[Jaspal returned to Bao.]Jaspal: Bao, what do I do next?Bao: Get the wire.Jaspal: Which colour? 6-2121Trung: Okay, Vinh watch. Hold the wire. Hold ithigher. Solder it there. [Trung showed Vinh how toput the solder on the wire.]Vinh: What do I do now?Trung: Solder it. Try it.Vinh: You mean you're supposed to do that?Trung: Don't waste the solder.Vinh: That isn't solder.Trung: Yes, it is. You do it now. Remember what Ishowed you.Vinh: No. You go away for a minute.Trung: Melt the solder first and hold up the wire.Vinh: Who cares?Trung: If you want a better mark you do. 6-2721Also, the electronics teacher asked these students tohelp other students:Teacher [to Bao]: Did you help Jim [new boy] getstarted?115Bao: Yes.Teacher: Oh, good. He knows what to do now. 6-1299Danny: I'm finished, but there's something wrong withit.Teacher: Bao, will you have a look at it with him?6-3113Teacher: Rick can I get you to work with Tanya?...Trungwill you work with Maria?...[To Vinh] Do you want togive [Tina] a hand. Just hold it while she finishes.6-3131And the same group of "experienced" boys did extra work onthe side for the teachers. For example:Danny [fixing teacher's lamp]: I know what's wrong withit. It was right here. I resoldered it and it startedworking.Teacher: It works now?Danny: Yes.Teacher: Good show. 6-3477Gradually, the more competent students became more confidentin the woodwork and electronics classrooms. Most of thesestudents were boys.I do not mean to suggest that most of the boys wereexcited and knowledgeable about woodwork and electronics.There were differences among boys in their level of interestand knowledge in these areas, as the following conversationsshow:David [to Ptan]: Where do we sand?Ptan [irritated at being disturbed]: No problem.David: Is this the side that has to be cut off?Ptan: No, any side.David: Do I sand here or any side? Which one?Ptan [becoming angry]: The one you don't like. Get ridof the one you don't like.David: I was asking about sanding. Which one?Ptan: Any side!! 2-1946116[Bac called solder "wire."]Trung: Solder's not a real metal. It has a differentmelting point than wire.Bac: It's an alloy in other words.Trung: Well, those two metals have a different meltingpoint and when they are mixed together they have alower melting temperature.Bac: Where do I get the wire?Trung: I told you it's not wire! 6-2882Jim [laughing]: John called them 'jumper cables.'Anthony: Well, that's what they are. They aremini-jumper cables 'cause they have a negative and apositive. 6-3768Rick: Hey, you know the solder. You let it drop on thewater. You melt it and wow.Anthony: I'm gonna wire the whole bunch. I'm gonnamake it bigger next time.David: What is it?Anthony: It's solder. It's melted in a little ball.It's awesome man. 6-1794The benefit of having previous experience in technicalwork was evident when I asked students to explain to me whatthey were doing in the electronics classroom. For example,when students were constructing a hand-held circuit (the"Happy Face") the "experienced" boys said:Trung: It goes, first - well - the positive goes intothe four resistors and the negative goes into theemitter of the transformers - transistors - and then'cause these plates are separate right, but then thesecomponents are combined so the electricity flowsthrough most of them you see. I think if you changethe capacity to a higher microflier right it will makeit blink faster or slower. 6-2914Rick: We're making a circuit. We're learning howresistors, transistors, and collectors work.LE: How do they work?Rick: A resistor lowers the voltage for the transistorotherwise the transistor overheats and burns out.LE: What does a collector do?Rick: I think it's an alternator that sends a singlecurrent from - eh, I'm not too sure actually. 6-1066117These students already had the knowledge and skill requiredto understand what they were doing in the electronicsclassroom.None of the girls exhibited the same enthusiasm forelectronics. Nor did girls use the same language or posturethe same kind of authority as the "experienced" boys. Ofthe girls, Jennifer and Lily provided the clearestdescription of what they were doing:Jennifer: Solgering or solder - solger or something...I really don't know. These are - I forget. I thinkthey're transistors or something....You have the twoand you have electricity, I guess, I don't knowreally....You just solder a bunch of wires and it makesit work.LE: How do you think it works?Jennifer: Electricity goes in and it gets powered bythese and it makes the lights go on. It has to go acertain way so the electricity goes. 6-1375Lily: It shows you how the power moves from one thingto another through the copper. It's the beginning forelectric - electronics, I think, just thebeginning.... The parts of the battery connect to theresistors. These work because the resistor is connectedto the wires. The "Happy Face" is connected to theelectricity. The wire connects here and through thecopper plates and this thing connects to the copperplate so the electricity can travel through. Then ittravels through this thing. It travels through here,the battery here. The negative and the positive allflow through the copper plate. 6-1007The girls used ordinary language to describe what they weredoing in the electronics classroom.At the other extreme were girls and boys who could notfollow the teacher's directions and had difficultydescribing to me what they were doing:118Tina: It's like a puzzle....It's a "Happy Face."LE: What is the purpose of making a "Happy Face?"Tina: I dunno.Lisa: We're making a "Happy Face," I dunno, a little"Happy Face" and the eyes blink - just making a "HappyFace." 6-934David: We're making a "Happy Face." Learning to putthis stuff together - learning to use this stuff. Idunno. 6-944Jaspal: I dunno. You put it on the Christmas tree.Make a "Happy Face" and that...I don't know. It justmoves something. I don't know. The light goes on andit makes a "Happy Face"....I have to ask Bao what todo. 6-1018Thus "experienced" students had an advantage in thewoodwork and electronics classrooms. They worked quicklyand confidently and finished their projects before lessexperienced students. They were called on to help otherstudents, they did other students' work for them, and theydid extra work on the side for the teacher. These studentsdeveloped confidence and competence in the technical studiesclassroom, and most of them were boys.Drafting and graphics relied less on the students'previous gendered experiences in terms of technical skillsthan other areas. However, gendered experience was still aninfluential factor in other ways. For example, many of theclassroom discussions of design and technology dealt withroads, bridges, tunnels, and space craft - topics that mightbe described as appealing more to male gendered experiences.Similarly, the teacher tried to motivate the students bygiving examples drawn from male gendered experience:119Teacher: So when did the shuttle explode?David: '86.Danny: July the something.David: July 7, 1987.Rick: We've already established it was '86....Teacher: I'm going to make the bonus points harder.Not only do you have to find out the day the shuttleexploded. You have to find out the actual flight. Howmany were there before that? 4-831Jill: What if you can't think of anything to draw [fora personal logo)? I can't.Teacher: Well, if you're a star football player drawsomething about that. If you collect stamps then yourlogo might include that. 4-2442Although these examples did not overtly appeal to boys morethan girls, the topics fit with what is described in theliterature as a masculine approach to design and technology.It is likely that the teachers' talk had less intrinsicappeal to girls.In addition, some students fell behind in drafting andgraphics because they worked slowly and because theycompleted each task before moving on to the next, as theteacher had told them to do. Most of these students weregirls. For example:[The teacher told students to draw 50 small logos andthen to select one logo and enlarge it. Some boysbegan drawing their large logo before drawing the 50small ones. When I asked those boys who had skippedahead, why they had not drawn 50 small logos first,they said-)Bao: No, I can't think of 50....Danny: No way'Chad: No, I'm going to do more later.All of the girls did as they were told. For example:[Poonam was drawing her small logos.)LE: Have you decided which one you are going toenlarge?Poonam: No, we have to get 50 first. 4-2997120Jennifer: I've got these drawn, but I've got to do 50yet. 4-3053Perhaps because of a lack of confidence, or perhaps becauseas girls they have learned to do what the teacher says,girls were more likely to do as they were told by theteacher.Students did have some autonomy in the drafting andgraphics section of the program. For example, although allstudents had to design a magazine cover they could choosethe kind of magazine and their own design theme. Uponcompletion of this assignment it was clear how the students'gendered experiences shaped their work: Rita's magazinecover read "Kids in Daycare!"; other girls designed coversfor fashion magazines; and all of the boys designed coversfor either car or sport magazines. As well, students wereencouraged to enter a "Design a City" competition. Lily wasthe only student to do this. Her design was bright andcolourful with lots of flowers and trees. Students'responses to these kinds of activities, provided a hint ofthe variety of approaches to technology that might resultwhen students are provided with the challenge to take chargeof their own learning.Like the "experienced" girls in home economics, the"experienced" boys in technical studies told me that theywanted to make something more challenging:121Trung: I thought building that box was a little easy.I wanted to build something better, harder. I wantedto build something to put tapes on. 11-1(29)Bao: It was too easy. The duck was so easy. It wasall mostly done by machine. [The teacher] should havemade us do it by hand more. If you do it by hand,there's more skill. If it's all done by machine, it'stoo easy. I would like to make a bookshelf maybe, butsome people are kinda slow. Maybe build that houseover there, but that would take too long. 19-4(16)Trung: We make little "Happy Faces," but those thingsare too easy. I would like to make a radio, or atransmitter and stuff - the harder kind. The "face" istoo easy, you can do that in a day. 11-4(23)Other students, mostly girls, talked about wanting to makesomething more creative:Lily: Maybe we should have some paint and paint theduck then it might be more decorative and make it moreinteresting. More interesting than just making it.9-6(1)Also, some girls talked about wanting to make something more"useful":Gemma: I wanted to make a rack for my tapes, that way Idon't have to buy a holder. 2-2504Lily: Some of the things aren't really useful. Theduck wasn't that really useful and it was a waste ofspace too. 9-6(5)Tina: Like for the duck - I don't really know what itwas. All I knew the mouth could clip things. Like Iput it right beside the phone for messages. I just putthe thing like a statue or something. 4-11(37)These examples show how some students were moresophisticated in their interests than others, and how bothgirls and boys spoke of wanting to make something other thanwhat they were doing in the classroom.122Girls, more than boys, questioned the purpose of thetechnical studies program. For example:Jennifer [to LE]: I don't know how to explain it.[Woodwork] wasn't interesting that's all. It didn'tseem like it was very useful, because you can't usethose skills. 8-3(30)....I didn't get anything out of[electronics]. I learned how to solder, that'sall....All of it's boring 'cause you don't make thingsthat you use....It's not something you'll use in youreveryday life. 6-1355Unlike girls, boys did not question the relevance of whatthey were doing in technical studies.The focus of much of the technical studies curriculumwas tool skill development. The teacher-directed, productoriented approach appealed to students who already possessedknowledge, skills, and interest in tools and machinery, mostof whom were boys. Although drafting and graphicsincorporated fewer tool skills than either woodwork ordrafting, it too was product oriented and was limitingbecause of this approach.Thus the students' previous gendered experiences indomestic and technical work intersected with their classroomexperiences and influenced their sense of competency in eacharea. The girls' sense of competency in domestic work andthe boys' sense of competency in technical work maintainedtheir traditional beliefs about who can do domestic andtechnical work.123Regulation and PositioningThe students' sense of competence in domestic andtechnical work influenced their responses to the homeeconomics and technical studies program and maintained theirbeliefs about who can do domestic and technical work.However, their positioning was not straightforward: girlsand boys constantly struggled to reassert their genderedpositions in domestic and technical work.For example, some girls regulated the performance ofother girls in domestic work. They chastised each other fornot performing domestic tasks "correctly":[The teacher gathered students around to look at eachothers' muffins.]Jennifer [to teacher]: Are [the muffins] supposed to beround or pointed on the top?Teacher: Round.Jennifer [shouting across the unit]: Tanya, if they'repeaked it means you've mixed them too much!Jill [shouting back, angrily]: We didn't mix them toomuch! 5-20(3)Tanya: Okay, let's clean up.Jill: You can dry; I want to wash. Wash the tray firstso you can stack everything on it.[Tanya washed the tray and put it on the counter.]Jill: Did you wash the bottom of it as well?Tanya [glaring at Jill]: Who's doing the washing here?Jill: I just want to check.Tanya: How come you used so many dishes?Jill: I always do. Hey, look at my apron - no spots!Tanya [looking at her apron]: No spots. We're cleanchefs![Girls laughed] 5-16(8)As well as policing each other, girls chastised boysfor not performing domestic tasks "correctly":[Vinh was reving the sewing machine.]Rita: You nerd. You're gonna break the machine.[Vinh laughed, but stopped what he was doing.] 3-1694124[Ptan was ironing.]Tina: Push it! You're waving it around. 3-3663Lily: Are you going to use the iron?Ptan: No.Lily: How come you left it on?[Ptan carried on sewing.]Lily: It's on![Ptan waved Lily away.] 3-3270[David and Hung worked in an adjacent unit to Lily,Poonam, and Tina. Although each group workedseparately they shared a table for their meal. Duringthe meal-]Tina [looking over to the boys' pile of dishes]: Youshouldn't wait until the last minute to do dishes.Lily [pointing to the girls' dinner plates]: We onlyhave to clean up these.[Hung got up from the table and began to wash thedishes. He put the draining rack on the counterwithout a tray underneath. Water flowed over the boys'books left on the counter.]David [shouting]: Hey, Hung, use the thing under there,so you don't get water all over the counter. Use thewhat do you call it, the blue thing. It's underneath![David got up from the table to help Hung with thedishes. The girls smiled as they watched the boysdoing dishes. David was using a dishcloth to drydishes.]Lily: You don't dry dishes with that!David [angrily]: Well, the other thing's totallysoaked.Poonam: Well, get another one.David [angrily]: I'm almost done. I'm not stoppingnow.[The girls quickly cleaned up their unit. Lily beganto help David with the dishes.]David [firmly]: We don't need your help. It's okay.[Lily stayed. She wiped the boys' counter and puttheir dishes in the cupboard. David tipped the waterout of the bowl left by Hung and he quickly wiped thecounter.]David: Miss [name of teacher] we're ready![Lily quickly dried the boys' sink and polished thetaps ready for inspection.] 5-51(23)[Jill, Tanya, Vinh, and Hung were responsible forwashing the teacher's dishes at the end of herdemonstration. Jill got up from her seat and began todo the dishes while the teacher was still talking tothe class.]Teacher: Just get them soaking right now.125[Jill continued to wash the dishes.]Teacher: You don't have to wash them now. Just leavethem and take the notes down.[Jill sat down. When the teacher had finished givingnotes, she said]Teacher: You two boys can be washing the dishes.[Jill and Tanya stood by the sink while Vinh washed thedishes. Jill stood behind Vinh, mimicking hismovements.]Jill [to Tanya]: Oh wow, he's washing.[Girls laughed][Hung scrubbed a cookie sheet over the sink Jill hadpreviously filled with rinse water.]Jill: Oh, the water's yellow! It's supposed to bewhite!Tina: Maybe, they're fixing it or something.Jill [angrily]: No, they've put the cookie sheet in thewater. Now all the dishes are going to be sticky!Teacher: Would someone wash off my table please?[Jill immediately fetched a clean cloth from thehamper. Rather than go to the boys' sink to wet thecloth, she went to her own sink. Tanya followed Jillto the sink.]Tanya [angrily]: That's right, get the other sink wet!Are you going to dry the sink as well?[Jill wet the cloth without speaking. Tanya dried thesink. After cleaning the teacher's table, Jill andTanya dried the teacher's dishes and put them away inthe cupboards. Hung and Chau returned to their seats,leaving the dishpan and water in the sink.]Jill [shouting]: You guys didn't finish! You guysdidn't sweep the floor!Teacher: It's alright, it's okay.(Bell rang. Students left for lunch, leaving Jill andTanya.]Tanya: I'll go, okay? I have to buy a ticket, okay?Jill: Okay.[Before leaving, Jill cleaned and dried the dishpan andthe sink, washed and dried the counter, and put the wetcloths in the hamper.] 5-23(41)While the girls' confidence with domestic tasks gave them anadvantage over boys and over each other, their busyness andattention to cleanliness tied them to a domestic femininity.The girls' correcting of boys and other girls in thedomestic setting, and cleaning up after boys, while givingpower to girls, reinforced the notion that women are better126suited at domestic work than men. The girls' behaviour hadthe effect of emphasizing their own domesticity whilesubverting it in boys. The latter example also shows howthe teacher tried to purposefully include boys and girls inclean-up duties, but the girls exerted their authority andtook control.There were, however, limits to the girls' domesticityas the following incidents show:Jennifer [sewing]: Mine has a hole in the end. What doI do with it?Maria [laughing]: Forget it, just keep sewing. 3-2678Jill [machine sewing]: My thread's stuck.Tanya: What happened?Jill: It [the needle] didn't go in the center.Tanya: Are you going to do it over?Jill: No way, just cut it off. 3-5037[The teacher checked Jennifer's and Maria's unit]Teacher [to Jennifer]: Okay, where's your board andyour pizza pan?[Jennifer took a baking sheet out of the cupboard.]Teacher: That's not your pizza pan.Jennifer: This is our pan!Teacher [pointing to the board]: There is still doughon there. Look, take a scraper.[Maria took a scraper and cleaned the board.]Teacher [looking in a drawer]: That shouldn't be there.What are these chopsticks doing here? Chopsticksshould be back in my unit.Jennifer [firmly]: I don't know. They're not ours.Teacher: Things are in an awful mess.Jennifer: All we used today was this.Teacher: I'm not saying it's your fault. Chairs upplease.[The bell rang. Maria and Jennifer ran out of thedoor.] 5-67(8)The boys also regulated each other in the domesticsetting. Occasionally, the boys corrected themselves andeach other while sewing and cleaning-up:127Vinh [sewing]: The corner's crooked so I'm taking allthe stuff out. 3-2637Danny [machine sewing]: I'm going slow. It's the onlyway. I want to get it perfect. 3-961David: You don't need to iron [the kite] again.Danny: I got it wrinkled. 3-3746[David started to leave for lunch, while Jaspal waswashing dishes.]Jaspal: Hey man, come back here.David [returning to the unit]: Shit all this! 5-60(12)[Students had cleaned up ready to leave. Jaspal took aglass from the cupboard.]Danny: What you doing, Jaspal?Jaspal: Getting a drink of water.Danny: Well, make sure you wash the cup then. 5-59(17)But, more often boys corrected other boys' performance whenthey were becoming "too domestic." This was most noticeablein the boys' response to Bao's ability in sewing:Danny: Bao would make a good sewing teacher.David: Yes, Bao. You don't have to be smart. You justhave to be good. 3-4230Stuart: Bao, you're good at [sewing].Danny: He's good at everything.Stuart [laughing]: Well, not English.Danny [laughing]: Well, the easy stuff. He's good ifhe doesn't have to use his brain. If he has to thinkfor a second he gets put out of class.Bao: You get English and I get to walk around.[Boys laughed] 3-57(1)Although Bao usually worked with, and was accepted by, thisgroup of boys, his ability in sewing clearly caused someconcern. The boys attempted to regulate Bao's behaviourthrough humour. As well, the boys' comments reflect theirlow estimation of the intelligence required for sewing, andof people who sew.128In technical studies, girls emphasized theirinadequacies and boys emphasized their authority intechnical work. For example, while some girls, like Lilyand Jill, consistently demonstrated their competence intechnical work, other girls emphasized their ownincompetence. Some girls played "helpless" with othergirls:Rita [using scroll saw]: Oh, it's vibrating andeverything.Maria: When it does that just pull it out slowly.Rita [trying again]: This is really freaking me out.2-1253[Maria finished sanding her box on the electricsander.]Rita [Holding her box to Maria; childish voice]:Please, please![Maria sanded Rita's box.] 2-2527And some girls played "helpless" with boys:[Tina was cutting her wire with pliers. David sat nextto her.]Tina: I'm not strong you know that.David: You don't need to be strong. Your "eyes"[lights on "Happy Face"] are too far out that's all.One way you can fix it is by vacuuming it out. Theother way is to push it through.Tina: Okay, you push it.[David obliged]Tina: You're pushing it up. Push it sideways.David: I'm not used to this. I had Rick help me.Tina: Okay, okay, that's okay. Stop!David: Okay? It better be.Tina: Expert. 6-4076Tina knew what to do, but asked David to do her work. Daviddeclared his own lack of experience in electronics andchallenged Tina's gendered notions about needing strength todo technical work. However, Tina tried to reinforce the129very "masculine" traits that disadvantage women: she namedDavid as "expert" in technical work.Still other girls moved back and forth betweendemonstrations of competence and helplessness. For example,Jennifer usually worked with confidence in the woodworkclassroom:Jennifer measured her piece of wood. She marked itwith a pencil, put it in the vice and started to plane.She worked very confidently. 2-916She, occasionally, helped other girls:Jennifer [to Maria]: You didn't use your pliers to clipit. Go like this over it and then put your wires on.[Jennifer dropped solder on each nail head for Maria.Maria held the solder while Jennifer held the gun].6-2799And she forcefully demonstrated her competence with hand andpower-tools in front of boys:[Jennifer was screwing Vinh's box for him]Vinh [to me]: It's woman's work isn't it. It is isn'tit? 2-3258Jennifer: We need power.Anthony: Use your brain.[Jennifer started the drill. The noise alerted Rick.]Rick [sarcastically]: Yes, Jennifer.Jennifer: Oh shut up! 6-1174[Jennifer removed the cassette from the typesettingmachine]Jay: Do you know what to do Jennifer? The clamp has tobe shut. You go like this [showing her what to do].Jennifer: I know what to do.Jay: She doesn't know what to do.David: Yes, Jay, go help her. 4-3261[After printing, the logos had to be put through awaxing machine. Danny was about to take Jennifer'slogo from her.]Danny: Give it to me, Jennifer.Jennifer: Let me do it.Jay: You'll screw up!130Jennifer: Oh shut up![Jennifer used the machine herself.] 4-3614But at other times she assumed a position that illustratedher incompetence in technical work:[Although Jennifer had previously soldered parts of her"Happy Face" herself:]Jennifer [childish voice]: Hey, Bao will you domine? ^Bao will you do mine. Just solder it for me.I'm scared I'm not gonna do it right. [Bao did it forher] 6-2840While Jennifer provided the most challenge to boys'devaluation of girls she also played helpless around boys.In so doing, she gave the boys an opportunity to demonstratetraditional masculine traits of strength and dominance andconfined herself to a position of powerlessness in technicalwork.Thus, while some girls challenged notions of girls'weakness and ineptitude in technical work, others reinforcedthis kind of femininity. And, even while challenging boys'definition of them, some girls worked at producing afemininity, and indirectly a masculinity for boys, thatcontributes to women's disadvantage.Most boys postured authority and competence in thetechnical studies classroom. For example in the woodworkclassroom, the teacher whistled as he worked; so did theboys. The teacher threw scraps of wood noisily into agarbage can; so did the boys. The teacher blew sawdust onstudents; so did the boys. The teacher worked on projectsat the side of the room; boys watched him intently and were131ready to help when required. The teacher carried hisprojects high around the room; so did the boys. Inelectronics and drafting, the boys displayed their knowledgeabout electronic equipment, particularly computers, and inall the areas the boys dominated equipment and machinery.The following scene is typical of most boys' behaviour atthe beginning of a technical studies class:[The boys were playing with tools at their benches,waiting for the teacher to start. The noise level washigh as the boys banged and moved the tools about. Allof the girls were sitting on the benches talking toeach other. None of the girls were handling tools....]Teacher: Just put the tools down! Keep things out ofyour hands now. It's hard for me to hear when you arebanging things. 2-577Authority with tools and equipment was something thatmost boys tried to show:As the teacher read the daily bulletin, Rick "eyed" hispiece of wood to see if it was straight. 2-340David [picking up a chisel]: This one's chipped. It'sworth nothing.Stuart: This one's sharp. Look at this one.David [running his finger over the chisel edge]: It'ssharp. 2-530Whereas nervousness at the machines was something thatmost boys tried to hide:[Danny was the first to use the table saw.]Danny: I did it fast guys. 2-1725Trung was using the rotary saw. He stood back from themachine as he sawed. Vinh was next. He put hissweater over his hand as he sawed. 2-1785[I asked Jaspal why he had given up sawing his piece ofwood.]Jaspal: It wouldn't work.Ptan: He was scared.Jaspal: It wouldn't work! 2-1098132More importantly the boys worked at producing girls'incompetence, and thereby their own competence, in technicalwork. For example, the "experienced" boys frequentlyridiculed the girls' work:Bao [to Gemma]: Where's your wood? You haven't evengot that yet. 2-3028Maria began to use the scroll saw. Stuart made asqueaky noise [as if to suggest that Maria was scared].Maria jumped and as she did so the blade broke. 2-1085[Lily was using the band saw. Vinh leaned on the saw.Ray, Ptan, and Jay were all very close to Lily,crowding her.]Vinh: Look, she's made an extra cut for nothing.Ray: You made an extra line for nothing.[Lily did not speak. She finished sawing and movedaway.] 2-1234As well, some of the boys took control of the girls' workand did it for them:Bao [picking up Jennifer's plastic cover for her pencilbox]: It's not even. Where's your box?[Jennifer did not respond.]Bao: Where's your box? Where's your box?[Jennifer gave her box to Bao.]Bao: It's not even.[Bao put Jennifer's box in the vice. He drilled holesand refixed the screws. Bao had screwed the plastic tothe wood for which Jennifer had already drilled holes.Consequently the piece now had two holes showing -those Jennifer had already drilled. Jennifer pointedto the two extra holes that were now showing.]Bao: You should have showed me [that you had alreadydrilled them] before! 2-3073This example shows how Bao constructed Jennifer'sincompetence by pointing out the "imperfections" in herwork. Bao also blamed Jennifer for his own mistake. Again,Jennifer, who often challenged the boys' authority, compliedwith Bao's demands.133When the teacher asked girls and less competent boys towork together, these boys also produced girls' incompetence,and consequently their own competence, in technical work.For example the teacher asked Poonam to work with Jaspal andVinh:[Poonam, Jaspal, and Vinh were to place their pieces ofcopper in a container which could hold up to fourpieces of copper. The container was then immersed inacid.]Teacher: Okay, who's going to be boss?Jaspal: I'll be boss.Teacher: Well, if you're going to be boss, take yourjacket off.Poonam: You have to have gloves and an apron on.Jaspal: Oh, yes.[Jaspal put on the gloves. Poonam tied his apronstrings. Jaspal opened the tank and put his piece ofcopper in place.]Vinh [to Poonam]: Here [meaning to give her piece ofcopper to him].[Poonam handed her piece of copper to Vinh who handedit to Jaspal. Jaspal put the pieces in the acid bath.Poonam watched carefully.]Poonam: It has to be down.Jaspal: Oh, yeah. There's a hole in it!Poonam: A hole in it. [She laughed at Jaspal becausehe did not know that the gap was not important.]Jaspal [to teacher]: There's a hole in it.Teacher: It doesn't matter. What are you trying to do?Jaspal: Aren't we supposed to put in four?Poonam: No!Jaspal: Yes. He said put in 4.Poonam: But there isn't anybody else!Jaspal: But don't we have to put in 4?Poonam: But there's nobody else!Vinh: Come on Jaspal, think.Jaspal: Well, what do we do?Poonam: Put in 3!Jaspal: Hope it doesn't fall out.[Poonam laughed and walked away.] 6-1663When the teacher asked a mixed-sex group to choose a leader,a boy took charge. This happened even though Jaspal did nothave a clear understanding of how to use the equipment.134Also, Poonam's comments to Jaspal, about how to dresssafely, though providing her with an opportunity to asserther power in the group, associated her with "mothering" or"wifery" and ultimately domesticity.In electronics, the teacher sometimes specificallyassigned boys to help girls. While developing the boys'competence, this approach had the effect of furtherportraying the girls' incompetence in technical work:[Ptan "helped" Jill and Lily]Ptan [examining Jill's block of nails]: There'ssomething wrong. Oh, it's over here. I need pliers.[Jill handed Ptan a pair of pliers]Ptan: Is [the solder gun] hot yet?Jill: No.Ptan: It should be.[Ptan stripped Jill's wires for her, ready to solderthem on the block of wood.]Ptan: Get some water.[Jill fetched paper towel and dripped water onto thesponge ready to solder.]Ptan: Lily you know you're supposed to take it out inone piece?Lily: It's so rusty I can't.Ptan: "Rusty" - what a word! Here Lily use these.[Ptan handed Lily a small pair of pliers.]Lily [holding up a large pair of pliers]: I'm going touse these.Ptan: But you're supposed to use these [small pair].Jill: You're organizing are you?Ptan: The power's not even on!Jill: It was, I turned them all on!Ptan: You didn't turn it on properly!Jill: I did. I've always gotten power like this.Ptan [flicking the switches]: It's on now, [checkingthe metre] the metre's on.Jill: You have to hold the wire, right?Ptan: What wire? The solder? You've tinned italready, right?Jill: What do you mean?Ptan: On the tops. Go ahead.[Ptan held the wire and the solder in place while Jillheld the solder gun.]Jill: Boy, it stinks.Ptan: Here. I'll do it.135[Ptan finished soldering for Jill, while she watched.]Jill: Do I add more solder?Ptan: No, go and show [the teacher] now....Go show him....I'll start the "Happy Face"....Lily [cleaning her "Happy Face"]: How come it's sorusty. Will it still work?[Ptan took Lily's "Happy Face" from her.]Lily: It's like it's stuck.Ptan: You should have cleaned it before.Lily: I did. It got rusty over the weekend.[Ptan began to wire Lily's "Happy Face." She alreadyhad inserted some of the wire herself.]Lily: Don't put it in the wrong way.Ptan: I know.[Ptan put the wire in for Lily]Lily: You need to clean your glasses. Hurry.Ptan: What's the rush Lily?Lily: I need to do other things.Ptan: You can solder it now.Lily: You hold it. I'll do it. [Lily soldered]Ptan: It's burning me. This thing is hot man.Lily: What's hot? The solder?Ptan: What do you think? Yes.Lily: I never knew that....Ptan: Are you blind Lily. Do that one. Oh Lily!Lily: What did I do wrong?Ptan: Only kidding. Oh, Lily had a heart attack.[Lily soldered]Lily: I never knew it was so hot. It's burning me.Ptan: Lily you're not helping, put it down.Lily: You're burning the thing. If anything goes wrongit's your fault. What if it doesn't work?Ptan: If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Well. let'ssee. This is the moment. [Ptan clipped a battery tothe "Happy Face." It lit up.] Of course it works.Why wouldn't it work?Lily: Thanks. You're such a good helper. 6-4076Ptan not only took over and did the work for Lily, but healso ordered Lily to fetch equipment for him. As well, hechastised Lily for not doing her previous work correctly,for not knowing particular skills, and for not understandingor using the "correct" language. In addition, he indicatedthat Lily was fussing and over-reacting. Lily challengedPtan's authority by telling him what to do, but her136chastising of Ptan for having dirty glasses, and forpraising his expertise, tied her to traditional notions offemininity.Girls could do the work themselves, as the followingincident shows:[Gemma's box was ready to go in the vice. Bao tookGemma's box and put it in the vice for her. The bellrang. Gemma took her box out of the vice:]Teacher: Leave it in the vice if it is glued![Gemma quickly replaced the box in the vice herself.]2-1969SummaryThis chapter has explored the relationship betweenstudents' previous gendered experiences, their beliefs aboutdomestic and technical work, and their experiences in homeeconomics and technical studies classrooms. The chapter hasshown the complexity of students' developing sense ofcompetence in domestic and technical work, and raisesquestions about the need for a more gender and culturesensitive curriculum.Because of the ways domestic and technical work isorganized in their lives, students brought to the classroomdifferent experiences and interests in domestic andtechnical work. Girls' and boys' gendered sense of theircompetence in each area was heightened by theirself-selection into same-sex groups in the home economicsand technical studies classrooms.137Although the students assumed various positions inrelation to domestic and technical work, a pattern wasestablished where students acted in what they saw as genderappropriate ways. While interaction was complex, girls andboys emphasized girls' authority in domestic work andminimized girls' expertise in technical work, and emphasizedboys' authority in technical work and minimized boys'expertise in domestic work. Overall, the students'supported traditional stereotypes about who can do domesticand technical work.The students' gendered sense of competence wasreinforced through the curriculum and classroom pedagogy.Because the curriculum was defined around specificcompetencies, defined in gendered, Western, middle-classterms, the students' classroom experiences confirmed ratherthan challenged their sense of competence in these areas.The teachers' definition of correct techniques and controlof the curriculum was designed for efficiency, but left noplace for the personal knowledge and experiences ofstudents. The curriculum was not attuned to the students'interests and did not take into account their genderedexperiences. As a result, gender differences playedthemselves out through the curriculum.The students' gendered sense of competence in domesticand technical work was not recognized overtly by theteachers. While all students participated in the program138and learned some domestic or technical skills that were newto them, students spoke to the necessity for a more gender-sensitive curriculum and the importance of allowing fordifferent competencies. Students, particularly girls,voiced their interests in different ways of knowing, therebyemphasizing the importance of variety in classroomexperiences.139CHAPTER 5SOCIAL RELATIONS OF THE CLASSROOMThis chapter examines how the social relations of theclassroom contribute to the production of students' genderidentities. The chapter is organized in four sections: a)best-friendships and group formation, b) domination andharassment, c) heterosexual relationships and prohibitionsagainst homosexuality, and d) the body and popular culture.Although I discuss each separately, they are interconnectedand act together to construct traditional power relationsand ultimately gender inequality.Best Friendships and Group FormationAs noted in the previous chapter, in all sections,unless otherwise directed by the teacher, studentssegregated themselves into same-sex groups. Studentsactively sought the company of their own sex:[Tina was soldering while Poonam watched. Poonam movedaway]:Tina: Oh, Poonam stay with me here.Poonam: I got to do my assignment.Tina: You sit here and do it.Poonam: I can't....Tina: You stay. You stay Poonam.Poonam: I have to go to finish my assignment.Tina: No, stay with me. Don't go Poonam. You have tostay girl. 6-4026Teacher: Okay, let's go [to the work stations].Jay: Let's go, Ray.Ray: Where do we have to go?Jay: We go over there. 6-909140[Danny was absent when groups were chosen. The nextday:]Danny [to Bao]: Are you Jaspal's partner?Bao: Yes.Danny: How come? You're my partner. 6-662Girls and boys gave similar reasons for thissegregation. They said they were "more comfortable," "moreconfident," and "less embarrassed" with people of the samesex, and most of all, they wanted to be with their friends.A friend was someone they could talk to and relate to, andwas also of the same sex:Rita: Girls like to be near each other so we can talkto each other. Girls don't talk to boys 'cause theydon't understand. Girls don't like to talk toguys....We talk about clothes, shopping, girls' talk,stuff like that. 6-4(12)Jaspal: Boys talk to each other more. They sharethings with each other....Like what we talk about iswhat we do together. We don't know what girls talkabout so we don't talk to them. 13-3(1)Some girls and boys gave other reasons for their desireto work separately. Jill and Tanya had already internalizedmessages of girls' promiscuity:Jill: Like if you sit with the guys the girls would say"You're boy-crazy" and all those things. 3-25(20)Tanya: We don't want boys to think we like them...don'twant to give them ideas. 1-6(50)Melanie spoke of the power boys held in the classroom:We just go in the room and we know we shouldn't sitthere 'cause the boys sit there. 11-5(5)Some boys said that boys were uncomfortable in the presenceof girls:Ptan: I think [boys] are scared of the girls, somehow.Because they want to sit on their own side and be kind141of King and this is the Queen's side over there, Ithink so. 20-8(8)David: I guess they feel more confident with theirfriends, not as nervous. 16-1(34)A few boys said that they did not like the girls:Stuart: We don't like [the girls]. We just don't. Westay with our friends. 12-1(48)David: I really dislike Rita. She just bugs me. Idon't know why, but she just bugs me. It's hard toexplain, but she just gets to me. I don't want to workwith her at all. 16-3(39)Whereas Danny said that he did like the girls in theclassroom:Danny: Gemma should have stayed though. Gemma wasnice. She was funny....She smiled like a little baby.Well, she's not a baby. It's just that she smiled likea baby. She had cheeks and all that. Jennifer, Lily,all those. I guess the girls are nice. 10-2(46)Danny's description of things he liked about Gemma tie himto a masculinity that values "little girl" characteristicsin women.Antagonistic gender relations were noticeable whengirls and boys were required to work together. Ininterviews, girls and boys spoke negatively about theseexperiences:Jill: I was writing and doing most of the work while[the boys] were talking about games and TV and showsand stuff. 3-26(20)Rita: Last week it was me and Tina and John and Hung.John and Hung just sat there and didn't do anything,and me and Tina did all the work. And in my groupbefore that me and Jennifer did all the work, it wasDavid, me, Jennifer, and John. 5-41(3)David: I didn't want to work with [Rita] at all. Thenthe teacher started getting really mad and said 'If you142don't work with her I'll go to [name of principal]'soffice right now.' So I said I'll work with her. But[the girls] kept saying 'Oh, we did all the work' andstuff. I didn't do lots, but I did my fair share.Rita was the recorder so that didn't help much.1-3(38)As well, I noticed a back and forth bantering betweenthe dominant girls and boys. Some of the boys commented onthis in the following ways:LE: Sometimes the boys make fun of the girls.Vinh: Make these jokes or something - yeah, make jokes.[laughed] Jokes about what they like maybe, orwhatever. That kind of stuff.LE: Do girls ever make fun of the boys?Vinh: Yes. Yeah, probably. I guess so. They saysomeone who you like and just joke about it, orsomething.LE: You tease each other about who you like?Vinh: Yeah, Yeah. [laughed] 14-7(23)Danny: Most of the time when I'm finished my work I'llgo talk to Jennifer, go bug them or something.Something to keep me busy.LE: How do you 'bug' the girls?Danny: Well, maybe before the class the girls will bugthe boys and then before the class ends he'll bug herand it will go on all through the day, I guess.10-2(46)While girls and boys seemingly preferred same-sexfriendships, these friendships were also exclusive. Somegirls noticed when another girl was left out of a group:Jill: Hey, Lily do you want to work together orseparate? 6-1561Maria: Hey, Jennifer we're over here. 6-920But, at other times the girls separated themselves andexcluded those with less power:Jill: If you sit with girls you don't even know, likethey don't act that friendly with you. 3-25(20)143[Poonam and Tina were walking out of the room atlunchtime]Lily: Where you guys going?[Poonam shrugged her shoulders, but kept going] 6-1911[Maria, Melanie, and Rita were trying to find out whyTanya, a new student, had transferred to their school.Tanya had brought her home economics binder with herfrom her previous school.]Maria: Can I look through your binder?Tanya: Sure.[Maria and Rita looked through the binder, whisperingbehind Tanya's back.]Rita [to Tanya]: You're from [name of school]?Tanya: Yeah.Rita: You're sure you're not from [name of anotherschool]?Melanie: Do you know the counsellor at [name ofschool]? Does he have dark hair and a moustache?[Tanya did not respond]Rita [quietly to Maria]: She says she's from [name ofschool], but she isn't. [Out of Tanya's view, butfacing Maria and Melanie, Rita mouthed] She's - not -from - [name of school].[Maria, Melanie, and Rita stood together around theironing board, whispering and looking across at Tanya.The girls returned to their sewing machines and satsilently, sewing. The bell rang. Maria, Rita, andMelanie ran out together, leaving Tanya on her own.]3-23(6)Girls' friendships also changed over time:Maria: Jill and Tina don't like each other.Tanya: They don't?Maria: No. Jill doesn't like Tina.Tanya: Does Tina like Jill?Maria: I don't know. They have fights one day and then- I don't know she has an attitude problem.Tanya: I'm not really friends with her either.1-27(35)Maria: I used to never speak to Jennifer 'cause sheused to be such a snob and everything, but she reallyis nice now.LE: What do you mean snob?Maria: They won't talk to you. You say 'Hi' to themand they just like walk away.Tina: Now we are really good friends - we share cubbyholes. 1-29(15)144Rita: Me and Jennifer had a big fight one time....Shegot really mad and she said 'God, you're a snob.' Isaid 'I'm not a snob, you're a bitch.' So we startedfighting....We're friends now, though. 6-9(27)Boys' friendships were equally exclusive:Stuart: Hey, what's Ptan doing sitting at our table?6-1634Bao: Anthony doesn't like talking. He justs sitsthere. In every subject he doesn't want to talk. Hejust sits there. He doesn't seem to want to talk and Idon't want to try. 19-6(3)Teacher [to Hung]: Where's your partner?Hung: I don't have one.Teacher: Well, how did this happen? Come here willyou.[The teacher moved over to David and Rick. He asked ifHung could work with them.]David: I'm always stuck with the guy.Teacher: You must be joking. This is terrible.David: No. I'm always stuck with him.Teacher: Well, he told me you were his best friend.This is terrible. [The teacher left Hung with Davidand Rick.]David: Who told you to come here?Hung: Teacher did.David: Go away Hung, we don't want you here. 6-404David, previously, had readily worked with Hung. But, whenDavid had the opportunity to be with Rick, he did not wishto associate with, or be associated with, Hung. The teacherwas not attuned to the complexity of power relations amongthe boys.The antagonisms of gender were further complicated bythe formation of groups across gender boundaries. Ininterviews, I tried to find out more about group formationand identity:Rita: Well, really popular people make fun of otherpopular people - the guys and the girls. Or the reallypopular people make fun of the nerdy people. Like145Danny is popular with the guys and Jennifer is popularwith the girls, so they'll be talking back and forth.And there'll be somebody like Stuart and somebody likeMaria who put each other down.LE: Why do they do that?Rita: I don't know. Just different types of people,you know. Stuart is more like a macho-type person, youknow, thinks he's great. He would put Maria downbecause she is a shy type. She wouldn't really talkback that much. So a real macho person would put downa shy person. 6-1(51)According to Rita there are two different groups, onecomprised of "popular" people and the other of "shy" people.Popular people put down shy people, not because of genderbut because of the type of people they are. Rita alsotalked about the power held by popular people:Rita: Popular guys and girls will put down shy guys andgirls. The shy people won't put down the popularpeople. They won't 'cause they are already shy. So ifa shy person says 'That's ugly' to a popular person,they will say 'Oh yeah' and they will get everyone tosay yours is ugly, 'cause they've got the power, youknow.LE: Where does the power come from. How does it start?Rita: I don't know. At the beginning of the year,people make groups and it carries on throughout theyear....They all hang around together. Just alldifferent groups. You sort of stick by the group youknow....Really popular people are also snobby, youknow. They control the people in the school, you know.If they say to somebody will you go and get this theywill go and get it for them...everybody obeys thembecause they want to be popular. 6-2(21)Likewise, David talked to me about popular people:David: Stuart started getting really popular in school,right, and he took off with these guys. 'Cause I'mjust your average Joe. He became really popular withthe popular guys.LE: What do you mean 'popular'?David: You just become popular. You get there somehow.There's no actual way to get there, you just get thereand you hang out with the popular people and stuff likethat....Stuart thinks he's the best all the time. Hethinks he can do whatever he wants. Even though he is146quite smart. He is very, very smart, and he's a goodathlete too. 16-5(28)David's comments suggest that he is critical of the systemthat creates popular people. At the same time, heparticipated in the process of creating popular peoplethrough his adoration of Stuart.The notion of being "popular" was clearly important togroup formation. Being popular required that others were"shy" or "nerdy." Being popular also had something to dowith the body and its presentation, which in turn had to dowith wealth:LE: What do you mean by 'popular'?Rita: I don't know. Everybody likes you in the school.You dress really nice. Everybody talks to you. Allthe guys talk to you and all the girls talk to you. Ithas a lot to do with what you look like. If you'repretty and dress nice, and have nice clothes.^6-3(6)David: [Popular boys] have got really nice shoes andstuff, but I don't care much. I got some 'Nikes' -just some basketball shoes.LE: What's a really nice shoe?David: Well, they get a lot of shoes. They get 'NikeAirstab,' they're good, and 'Brooks Hydroflow,' andstuff, they are really nice ones. They usually havethe air bubble here down the side of the shoe, so youcan see the air. Like 'Nike Airmax' and stuff, theyare really good shoes. Like when you walk it likesprings you up. It has an air bubble and it pushes youup when you run. It helps for more speed - moredistance and things. Ashton's got a pair. 17-6(23)Here there is an interesting comparison between Rita's andDavid's comments. Both identify clothing as being somethingthat identifies a person as popular. Rita, speaks aboutgirls looking "pretty" and "nice," whereas David talks aboutboys' clothing that gives the illusion of being tall and147moving fast. What defines a person as "popular" isgendered.Students' segregating themselves into same-sex groupsand hierarchies among and between girls and boys, illustratethe complexity of interaction within and across gendercategories. The organization of best friendships and groupTformation^provided a context for other kinds of classroominteraction.Domination and HarassmentMany studies have shown that male students dominateclassroom interaction. This study is no exception. Here Idescribe how male dominance was produced through verbalharassment, silencing, and battering, and I go further toexplore the subjectivities and complexities of theclassroom.Verbal Harassment In interviews girls described boys as "immature" andsaid they were constantly "making fun" of girls. Althoughthe girls did not speak about what boys actually said tothem, I observed that a group of boys called girls "cows,""bitches," "witches," "whores," "dogs," "hussies," and"lezzies," and they said they were "evil" and they"smelled." For example:Rick [to Ptan about Tina]: Does she smell? I asked youto move up, but you wouldn't - so I say does she smell?1-1229148Teacher [reviewing parts of the sewing machine]: Thisis the presser foot lever. [What is] the next one?Rita: Feed-dogs.Stuart: Rita-dogs! 3-508[Jay, Rick, Stuart, and Danny were looking at eachother's magazine covers]Rick [shouting]: Jennifer the first nun to be on thecover of 'Playboy.' 'Jennifer the Nun - FeatureStory.'Jennifer [smiling]: Rick, you're being mean.Rick: What a hussie eh? 4-2127[The woodwork teacher told Maria to tell students tomove into the varnish room. Maria asked Rita to dothis for her.]Rita [loudly]: Everybody is supposed to go in thevarnish room.[Rita went into the varnish room. She came out andshouted again:]Rita: Everybody is supposed to go in the varnish room.Danny: Stupid cow. 2-3128[In woodwork Ptan and Jill talked quietly together.]Stuart [loudly to Ptan]: Don't talk to that cow.[Ptan looked back over his shoulder at Stuart. Hecontinued talking quietly to Jill.] 2-2701The same group of boys frequently referred to girls andwomen as objects:Teacher [answering the telephone]: Is there a Jane or aLulu here?David: Whose Lulu?Rick: Big one. Chinese. 3-797Teacher: What is important in other people?Bao: Good looking....David: What about behaviour?Rick: No-one wants an ugly. 1-103And they made comments about parts of women's bodies:Ray [about Rita]: Her arse is so fat. 1-2042Jay [looking through a fashion magazine]: Wow. Look atthose cheeks! 3-44(41)Rick: Well, at least she's a virgin.Stuart: How do you know? 3-34(6)149As well, the boys' comments suggested an intense hatred forthe most outspoken girls in the classroom:Rita: Bye Miss [name of teacher] - don't forget to buysomething at the bake sale.Danny: Oh, shut up. I hate her man. I just hate her.3-3920The boys' talk was often homophobic:Rick: She's gay, man. That's her game.Jay: Yeah, that's her game. 4-1415and racist:[The teacher was taking attendance.]Tanya: Did you call Tanya?Jay: She's the brown one.[Laughter] 6-112Bao [to Gemma]: Take this one [piece of yellowplastic].Danny: Yellow would look good with your complexion.2-2445and was often linked to their sexuality:Teacher: Orange vegetables have lots of vitamin A.Jay [pretending to be serious]: Is it hard?Teacher: The carrot is crisp. Would someone like tohave it?Danny: Jennifer will have it. She likes long things.[Laughter] 5-44(52)The boys' misogynist talk was also directed at womanteachers.Stuart [about a teacher]: She's a witchdoctor. She's acow. 3-61(10)Jay: Hey, Miss whatever your name is - come here!3-222And they likened man teachers they did not like, to women:[I asked Stuart if he had taken woodwork in elementaryschool.]Stuart: Yes, but I hated it. We had Mrs [name ofteacher].LE: You had a woman teacher?150[Jay and Stuart laughed.]Stuart: Yes, we had Mrs [name of teacher].LE: Why is that funny?Stuart: Well, he was a right goof.LE: Your teacher was a man?Stuart: Yes - a goof. 2-538Occasionally, girls' comments about women were similar tothose of the boys:Tanya: My teacher at [name of school] was a b.i.t.c.h.You couldn't ask her anything. What's this one like?3-20(49)[Showing Tanya her drawing of a clock face, marked bythe teacher]Jill: This is all I did to my clock.Tanya: You sent it in late and you got an "8"! Stupidcow. 4-2181The dominant boys also verbally harassed less powerfulboys. They controlled their access to resources:[Hung was using a sewing machine. Rick was ready touse a machine. He stood over Hung as if expecting himto move.]Rick: Okay, Hung, you get to go with Trung now. You goshare with Trung.[Hung moved back to a table. When Rick had finishedusing the machine he moved to a table. Hung went backto the sewing machine.]Rick: Isn't Trung finished yet?Hung: No.[Rick moved back to the machine. He did not sayanything to Hung. Hung moved to a table.] 3-976And they ridiculed Ptan and Hung. The dominant boys'comments about Ptan usually related to his height:Stuart [shouting]: Eenie, meenie, miney Ptan. 4-2704Rick: Hey, Ptan, stop chewing, man. It'll stunt yourgrowth.Stuart: What growth?[Boys laughed, including Ptan]Rick: I swallow mine. 4-3186Teacher [taking attendance]: Ptan?Rick: He'll be sitting in the front.151David: He has to sit in the front so he can see.Rick: Otherwise he'd be like this [Rick put his chin onhis desk. Rick and David laughed.] 6-19The dominant boys' comments about Hung usually referred tohis speech and to his capabilities:[The ironing board had collapsed. Hung was trying tofix it]Danny [shouting]: Hung iron. Hung, bang, bang.Rick: Good move, Hung. You've got to be crazy, man.3-42(32)[Rick was ironing]Rick: Oh, the smell! Smells like Hung.[Hung sat silently sewing.] 3-42(34)Jay [laughing]: The Hung club. Hung watch it. Part ofthe Ptan Ptan club.Danny: Yeah, the Geek club.David: Yeah, I tried to get in, but I wasn't retardedenough.Thang: Hey Hung, did you take my pins? You made all mypins fall in here.Jay: Hung talking funny. Hung, Hung.David: Hey, shut up Hung.[Jay, David, and Danny laughed. Hung did not respond.]3-4316In this latter example, David, while not usually a dominantboy, participated in the verbal harassment of Hung. Davidthus supported the domination of less powerful boys, eventhough he was usually one of them.The dominant boys, however, quickly came to Hung'sdefence when he was criticized by a substitute teacher:[Hung was sewing his pincushion]Teacher: May I see your kite? Aren't you supposed tobe working on your kite. Let me see it.[Hung did not respond]Rick [to teacher]: You're supposed to finish thepincushion first.Stuart [to teacher]: She told him. He's doing what shesaid. 3-3253152Although there were divisions among boys, they presented aunited front when challenged by a woman teacher.The dominant boys also Lised name-calling to produce akind of group camaraderie:Danny [looking at Bao's binder]: Bao, are these yournames - 'Geek,"Goof,"Gan,"Geek'?[Boys laughed]Bao: He's a gay low.Stuart: Danny's not a 'gay low,' he's a 'fag.'Danny: I don't care, call me anything.Stuart: I called you a hooker.Danny: I thought you were a pimp.Stuart: Well I don't get much money.Bao: Yeah, 15 for me and 50 for you, that's stupid.Stuart: Yeah, God damn it.[Boys laughed] 4-2765Thus, as well as using sexist, racist, and homophobiccomments to exclude girls and less powerful boys, dominantboys used name calling as a form of within-group cohesion.Girls and less powerful boys responded in differentways to verbal harassment. On one occasion, Vinh foughtback:[After gluing his flip-book, Vinh wrapped it in waxedpaper.]Stuart: You don't wrap it, silly fool.Vinh: Does it matter? What's the difference?Rick: Yeah, you silly fool, you wrapped it.Vinh: Shut up, you big mouth. 4-3757But usually the less powerful boys passively accepted theirsubordination. A few girls, on the other hand, frequentlyresponded to the boys' comments by telling them to "shutup," by calling boys "stupid," or "nerd," or by ignoringthem:Jay [cutting masking tape]: Can you help me with this?[Tina did not respond.]153Jay: You're gay.Tina: What did you say?Jay: I said, you're gay.Tina: Oh go away. How you live! 6-971LE: What are you going to do with the wood?Rick: Molest it.Jay: Jennifer is going to rape it.Jennifer: Oh, shut up. 2-1449Rita [to Jay]: You fart! Bug off! 4-12(12)Other girls, like less powerful boys, were more likely tomove away from the dominant boys or remain silent.In interviews, girls and less powerful boys did notraise the dominant boys' verbal harassment of them as anissue. When I drew girls' attention to the boys' talk, thegirls substantiated my observations, but their reaction wasusually one of denial:Rita: What do you mean? Like what?LE: Like "cow."Rita: Oh "cow"'s a normal one, yeah. That's what guyscall girls when they get mad at them....It doesn'tbother me 'cause I don't really care, you know. I knowthey don't know any better so I don't say anythingback. I don't care. Even if they do say something tome I don't listen, or if I'm really mad I'll call thema name back.LE: Do they call you anything else?Rita: "Slut," "tramp," "ig," "whore," "bitch," stufflike that. I just tell them to shut up. 6-9(14)Similarly, Tina objectea to boys' talk but told me thatshe became accustomed to it:Tina: Some of the guys are really sick. They talk likesick, like gross stuff. It doesn't really matter tome, 'cause I've got used to it. 4-8(15)And some girls blamed other girls:Maria: Actually, some of them ask for it, right? Somegirls are -154Tanya: They flirt. They flirt 24 hours a day, everysecond.Maria: And they dress for it. I'm not saying that allgirls - in Grade 8 there are just a couple of girls,but in the higher grades there are more. 1-5(34)The girls' reactions suggest that they took the boys'misogynist talk for granted. It was an accepted part oftheir everyday experience.Similarly, the less powerful boys did not raise theirdomination as an issue. When I specifically asked Hung howhe felt when David and Rick refused to work with him, heresponded briefly:Hung: It makes me mad, that's all. 6-771David, on the other hand, excused the dominant boys'treatment of Hung:LE: Some of the boys make fun of other boys.David: Yeah, Hung. Hung doesn't notice it, though.Hung's kinda weird, but he's a nice guy though.17-9(15)David claimed to like Hung, despite his harassment of Hungin the classroom.The verbal harassment was pervasive, but contradictory.Some boys said that they liked girls, yet engaged in sexist,racist, and homophobic slurs against them. Some boysengaged in camaraderie, yet denigrated other boys and eachother. Some girls objected to boys' remarks, yet acceptedtheir behaviour as "normal," blamed other girls for thedominant boys' behaviour, and occasionally used sexist talkagainst each other. Such contradictions highlight thecomplexity of gender relations in the classroom.155Silencing Girls and boys came together during the teachers'demonstrations or large-group discussions. On theseoccasions a group of boys dominated student-teacherinteraction, but how they did this varied between homeeconomics and technical studies classrooms.In home economics, the dominant boys answered most ofthe teachers' questions, they asked questions, and theycorrected and ridiculed girls, less powerful boys, and thewoman teachers. The following scene is typical of whathappened during the teacher's demonstrations in the food andnutrition section of the program:Teacher: What did I do with the margarine for thebiscuit mixture?Jay [shouting]: Cut it in!Rick: Chop it!Teacher: What did I use to mix it?Tanya: A spoon.Jay [shouting]: A fork!Rick [shouting]: A fork!Teacher: A fork is okay. How do I add the liquid?Jay [shouting]: Pour little by little.Teacher: Right.Jay: Don't you have to turn on the stove stuff?Rick [laughing and mimicking Jay]: Turn on the stovestuff![Laughter from boys' side]Teacher: As it forms [a dough] what do you do?Jay [loudly]: Mix it together! You use your fingers.You forgot the flour!Teacher: I haven't got there yet. Have any of you madebiscuits at home?Jay: I made it. I fed it to the birds and the birdsdied![Loud laughter from boys][The teacher made the dough and rolled it out to make apizza]Rick: Isn't that small?Teacher: It's plenty big enough. If it sticks what doyou do with the dough?156Vinh: Put flour on it.Bao: Isn't that thin?Rick: Man, that's thin![Loud laughter from boys][The teacher pricked the bottom of the pizza dough.She explained the reason for this with reference to ahot air balloon. Jay and Vinh started to make fartingnoises, Danny and Bao joined in. Loud laughter fromthe boys.]Teacher: You can add lots of ingredients to pizza. Iknow someone who even likes banana.Vinh [pointing to Jay's neck]: Hey, look at this.Trung [quietly]: A hickey.Jay [laughing]: Jenny gave me this. Jenny gave me abanana split.[Boys laughed quietly]Danny [thinking boys were laughing about banana onpizza]: Banana's good with it, you know.[Boys laughed loudly] 5- 55(2)While girls rarely laughed at the boys' talk, laughter fromthe less powerful boys had the effect of supporting thedominant boys' behaviour and discrediting the teacher.Evident also is how heterosexuality interweaves with malepower. In addition, the example shows how the teacher triedunsuccessfully to relate to the students' experiencesbecause of the power of the dominant boys.In the other sections of the home economics program,the dominant boys continually challenged the teachers:Teacher [demonstrating]: Oops, I didn't bring scissors.Rick: You mean shears.Teacher: Yes, that's a better term. Shears are forfabric. They have a different shape. 3-2194Teacher: Don't stand there, you can't see.Jay: I can. 3-526Teacher: You should be sitting at your desks, boys.Bao: I can see better here. 3-770Teacher: Are you going to do that little job for metoday?157Bao: I am going to do this [math homework]. 3-4122Teacher: Did you get it right this time, Stuart?Stuart: Yes.Teacher: Well, press it.Stuart: I'll do it next day. 3-4000Teacher: As men if you are capable of earning $50,000 ayear and your wife is earning $40,000, who will lookafter the children?Rick: If you have that kind of money you hire a maid.Think about it. 1-538The boys interrupted woman teachers:Teacher [demonstrating]: Stop before the -Ray [interrupting]: The corner.Teacher: Yes, stop before the corner. 3-634Teacher: Maria, would you put that iron on the counterplease before -Bao [interrupting]: It breaks.Teacher: Yes, it breaks. 3-804And the boys devalued the teachers' work. For example:[The teacher was going over answers to a test on partsof the sewing machine.]Rick: What about needle placer?Jay: What about needle position?Teacher: I think I said that.Stuart [laughing]: You didn't say that. What aboutthread spool?Rick: How about thread clamp?Teacher: No.Jay [laughing to Stuart]: Hey Stu - uplifter?[Rick, Jay, Stuart and Danny all giggling. Stuart puthis head on the desk laughing.]Jay: What about bed?Teacher: Yes, bed [of sewing machine] - B.E.D.Trung: Gee, it's hard to spell.Teacher: The last one is?Rick: Foot control.Teacher: Yes.Jay: What about gas pedal?Teacher: No, it's not the gas pedal. 3-1882These comments are illustrative of how the dominant boysrepeatedly responded to their woman teachers. Although eachincident was minor, there was a cumulative effect. While158the boys' comments did provide a means of them having avoice in the classroom, their empowerment became a problemwhen it discredited and devalued the woman teachers, andsilenced other students.The dominant boys' banter restricted the opportunitiesfor girls and less powerful boys to talk, thereby silencingthem. Less powerful students, occasionally, tried to breaktheir silence. The dominant girls - Jennifer and Rita - anda less powerful boy - Ptan - tried to interject their ownexperiences into the family management curriculum:Teacher: Does anyone know what joint custody means?Rick [loudly]: They cut her in half.Rita: They have joint custody of me. They both have toagree about me. They both have a say in it.Stuart: They both have to give you money.[Laughter] 1-1428Jennifer: My aunt is East Indian and she lives with heraunt and her brothers. They are all from India andthey have nowhere to go.Rick [shouting]: A hundred aunts living in a house.[Loud laughter from boys' side.] 1-1519[Ptan was telling the class how his group had decidedto spend the 'Family Budget.' Bao interrupted Ptan-]Bao [shouting]: You can't buy clothing for $100.[Stuart and Bao laughed loudly at Ptan. Noise levelincreased. The remainder of Ptan's response wasinaudible.] 1-1738Teacher: Can you give us examples of men on television?Ptan: Men are always shooting and dying.[Bao began to make shooting noises, as if ridiculingwhat Ptan had said. Other boys laughed, loudly.]1-837Ptan: Somebody said about me "You know that shrimp isthe shortest guy in the whole school."[Silence][Bao laughed loudly.]Jennifer and Rita said something to Bao in Ptan'sdefence. [Inaudible, noise level high]159Teacher: Yes, that's a really hurtful thing. Why do wevalue taller people? In the long run does it make adifference how tall someone is?Rick: Yeah, you can't reach the cookie jar.[Laughter] 1-2230These examples show the additional barriers that dominantgirls and less powerful boys faced in home economicsclassrooms. Those who spoke out, were corrected,interrupted, made fun of, or drowned out by the dominantboys.Although home economics teachers showed concern aboutthe amount of noise the boys were making, they did notusually address the content of boys' talk. Teachers said:Boys, I don't mind you socializing. You have toremember we can all hear what you are talking about.You talk too much. 3-4590Keep it gentleman-like. There's too muchchatter....Just remember this isn't the locker room.3-61(10)Be quiet! We don't need details here. 1-2310I don't like the conversation here. 1-2312Some of you are quite rude. 1-1214By suggesting that such talk should be kept private, orreserved for the locker room, and by not being explicitabout the content, teachers may inadvertently have condonedthe content of boys' talk.In technical studies, the dominant boys did not openlyridicule girls as they did in home economics. Nor did theychallenge, interrupt, or devalue the technical studiesteachers. However, the dominant boys continued to dominate160question-and-answer sessions in the technical studiesclassroom. For example:Teacher [going over the homework question about changein technology]: Okay, who wants to go first? Who wantsto volunteer?[Maria raised her hand.]Teacher: Yes, my dear.Maria: The shape and sizes of telephones.Teacher: Yes, you can get them in many shapes andsizes.Maria: They've changed the shape.Teacher [showing students an early telephone]: What'smissing?Rick: The connector. The dial.Teacher: How did they get through?Jay: The operator.Teacher: What other changes are there?Bao: Isn't there a telephone with a television whereyou have to speak?[Stuart raised his hand.]Teacher: Yes, sir?Stuart: Size.Teacher: Yes. Very small ones, cellular phones andsome are very light.Trung [quietly]: Cellular aren't light.[Jay raised his hand.]Teacher: Yes sir?Jay: Expensive.Vinh: Functions. Some have memory and everything.Bao: Re-dialTeacher: Yes. My daughter has just bought a telephoneit has 12 memory.[Rick raised his hand.]Teacher: Yes, sir?Rick: There's software on most of the phones now.Teacher: What does that mean?Rick: Like it's pre-programmed. It has linkfeatures....Teacher: Okay, let's look at radios.Trung: We've got FM.Stuart: More stations.Vinh: Classic stations too.[The teacher showed students an old radio.]Bao: Does it still work?Teacher: What has changed?Bao: Size.Jay: Digitals.Teacher: What does that mean?Jay: Digital tuning. Instead of needles there'sdigital numbers.161Rick: The range of frequencies it covers.Teacher: Anthony? [Anthony was drawing - no response]Teacher: Tina? [No response]Teacher: Trung? (No response)Jill: Plays tapes.Teacher: Yes.Lily: You can change while you're recording....[Inaudible, noise level high]Teacher: It really is the frequency that you'rechanging. 6-551This was the first time that Maria had volunteered an answerall year (it was May.). Evident here is the way the teacherresponded to Maria as "dear" and to the boys as "sir," andhow the noise level increased when Lily spoke. Also evidentis how a small group of boys dominated the setting, whilemost girls and less powerful boys were silent.Occasionally the more powerful girls tried to enter theconversation in technical studies. In the followingexample, Jennifer attempted to intervene:Teacher: What do we call a person who designs houses?Stuart: A designer.Teacher: Well, we call that person an architect.Engineers also use drafting.Danny: What about designing a computer?Teacher: Yes, a computer technician. What else doengineers design?Rick: Bridges.Teacher: We call them a structural engineer. A civilengineer designs tunnels, roads. Do any of you knowwhere an important tunnel is being built right now?Jennifer: Oh, it's called - I can't remember. I knowit, but I forgot.[The teacher described the Channel Tunnel project.]Teacher: What do we call someone who designs clothes?They draw plans for clothes. You just took clothing.[No response]Teacher: A pattern designer. What else?Rick: Furniture.Teacher: Yes, a cabinet maker or a furniture maker.Who reads drawings?Jennifer: A seamstress.Rick: A carpenter.162Jennifer: A plumber.Teacher: Yes, so we don't end up with a sink in thedining room instead of the kitchen....What do we call aperson who designs maps?Rick: A cartographer.Teacher: Okay then, a designer - what does he draw?Rick: Plans of things that are made.Teacher: Plans of things that are made. I hope you allremember this. 4-427This example shows how the teacher attempted to draw otherstudents into the conversation by relating concepts ofdesign to students' experiences with clothing and furniture.But because students were not required to develop theirresponses, the discussion was limited and lapsed mainly intotraditional notions of design and technology.A few girls challenged the technical studies teachers,while the boys remained quiet. This was most noticeable inthe woodwork classroom:Teacher: Okay guys, you have to saw this 10 incheslong.Gemma: I thought we were going to make a rack [forcassette tapes].Teacher: No, you are going to make a box.Gemma: But you said. I want to make a rack! 2-1559[The teacher began to demonstrate how to use thehand-saw.]Jennifer: We already know how to saw. You just showedus yesterday. 2-1641Teacher: We're going on a ship, to the engine room, allover the ship.Trung: Will the ship be moving?Teacher: No, you'll be walking on water. No, it's inthe dock.Jennifer: Do we have to pay for the bus?Teacher: No, there's no charge.Rita: What's the date?Teacher: We leave Block D, half way through class.Jennifer: So we get off Block D?Teacher: You will leave Block D at 10:30.Bao: We're just gonna miss Block D?163Jennifer: We have a test on Friday in Block D.Teacher: I can't do anything about that. If you takethe test you'll miss the trip....If you are not goingto go you still have to come here in this Block.Jennifer: What are we going to do then? 2-2560These examples show how the more powerful girls were notafraid to question a male teacher. Yet, the same teacherintimidated the dominant boys. At the same time, thecomments suggest an important difference between how thegirls challenged man teachers and how the boys challengedwoman teachers: the girls questioned the organization ofthe program, while the boys ridiculed the woman teachers.In interviews, I attempted to solicit girls' andquieter boys' responses to my perceptions of silencing inthe classroom. Some girls did not see themselves assilenced:Tanya: In class, me and her we talk a lot.Maria: Actually, it's weird. We don't like talk a lotin the halls, just in class.Tanya: In class, it's telk, talk, talk, like withJennifer. But then the other girls talk with theirfriends a lot....In class, we talk a lot. 1-27(20)Rita: Mr [name of teacher]'s favourite saying to mewas, 'I'm going to get the staple out.' Staple me tomy seat. Girls like to gossip. They like to talk toeach other...like 'Did you see what she was wearingtoday?' or something about our work...or 'Did Johnnyphone you last night?' stuff like that. 6-4(9)These comments reflect the importance to girls of socialinteraction in the classroom. These girls did not feelsilenced in the classroom because they were able to talk toother girls on an informal basis.164When I pushed for students' responses to being silencedin the formal teaching situation, students explained theirsilence by blaming themselves or the teacher. Girls saidthey wanted to absorb the information, or they were bored,or too shy. Quiet boys said they just didn't want to speakout in class or get into trouble. Although girls and lesspowerful boys did not comment on their own silencing, Ptansaid:If I was a girl I would get angry, because sometimesthe boys they kind of criticize what the girls say, soI think if I was a girl I would get angry inside.20-12(17)And Ray, a quiet student himself, said:Ray: Seems like the girls barely talked. They probablywork harder. Maybe they don't have anything to say.13-3(19)Whereas most of the dominant boys were unable toexplain their behaviour, Rick said:I talked a lot, but off call, when I wasn't supposedto. I guess I did a fair amount of that....It couldhave been a bit of protection, but I doubt that, um I'mnot too sure....I don't know, it just kind of pops out- out of nowhere...just making fun of what we weretalking about....I guess because we found it boring, orI'm not too sure...because we had already reviewed allthis, I guess. She was practically reviewing half thestuff that I did in Grade 7, in the family lifeprogram....Grade 7 was a preview to what we did.18-4(47)Rick viewed boys' actions as "fun." His view complies withgirls' views of boys "having fun" discussed earlier.I tried to find out why the boys corrected, challenged,and ridiculed woman teachers, but did not do so with man165teachers. Some boys said that male teachers were morestrict than female teachers:Bao: Miss [name of teacher] is easier. She doesn'tmind if you talk. Mr [name of teacher] he does. Likewhen he takes attendance and all that and like ifyou're late you're in trouble. Miss [name of teacher]doesn't mind. It's kinda easier. Some people arescared the way he talks so loudly and he's big too.19-3(17)Danny: Probably 'cause different sex or something.'Cause I guess he's real big, I guess. It wasdifferent with him 'cause he looked so mean and that,so I guess everybody thought - I dunno, we were actinga lot nicer. 'Cause there was a lot more dangerousstuff in there. There was saws and you could cut yourhand off, or whatever....If you did something reallybad he'd get pretty angry at you. He'd get mad at you.10-5(6)Others were not so sure:Rick: Mr [name of teacher] was strict. We've seen himyelling there, so it kind of influences you. Miss[name of teacher] was pretty strict too, I guess. Wethought that Miss [name of teacher] was less strict,but they were about the same though. 18-8(21)These comments suggest that although perceived strictness ofthe teacher and who "minded" may have been a factor, theboys had difficulty providing an account of what might havecaused the difference in their responses to female and maleteachers.Battering Physical abuse was another way of enforcing dominationin the classroom, and thereby constructing traditionalgender identities. This ranged from what might be calledphysical harassment to battering. Dominant boys physicallyharassed less powerful boys:166Stuart: Hey, Ptan you didn't get hurt did you? Didn'tI put you down?Ptan: No, you dropped me.[Stuart laughed] 6-2744Ptan and Stuart talked to the teacher. Stuart put hishand firmly on Ptan's head as they talked. 2-2768Bao blew air from the hose in Hung's face. 2-2839[David came behind Ptan with a large pair of wireclippers. He touched Ptan's neck and Ptan jumped.]Ptan: Oh, David it hurt.David: I didn't hurt you. 6-3331[While waiting to leave, by the door.]Danny [grabbing Ptan's shoulder]: Go beat up Jennifer,Ptan.[Danny laughed. Ptan looked frightened and angry. Hemoved quickly away and went to his table. The bellrang and students left the room. On leaving, David puthis arm around Ptan's shoulder.]David: I wouldn't say anything like that to you, Ptan.1-2672In the latter example, although David occasionally abusedother less powerful boys, he came to Ptan's defence. Incomforting Ptan, David showed there were limits to histolerance of abuse of other men.Aggressive behaviour in the classroom was evidentbetween dominant boys and some of the girls. Althoughincidents were isolated, and were often disguised as humour,they had a cumulative effect:[Jay kept hitting Maria on the head with a pencil andtapping on her pencil-case.]Jay: I like bugging you. It's fun.[Maria did not speak, nor did she look up at Jay. Shelooked annoyed.] 4-2431Stuart put his hand firmly on Gemma's head, pushingdownward....He tapped her on the shoulder, she turnedand then he slapped her hard on the back. Gemma movedaway from Stuart, without saying anything. 2-3550167[David came over to Lily and Poonam as they weredrawing their flip-books.]David [to Poonam]: Oh, you're making a littlestick-man. Put a little guy with a machine-gun in hishands.[David mimicked as if pointing a machine-gun at Lily]Lily: Goodbye.David: It's [drawing] not that bad. 4-3698Danny was 'playfighting' with a girl from another groupin the corridor. She was hitting him in the back andpretended to kick him in the groin. Danny held her upagainst the wall by the lockers. They were fightingand laughing at the same time. Danny moved to Gemma.He put his arm around her and ruffled herhair....Poonam and Lily watched at the side as theywaited to go into the room.^6-1899Stuart, Jay, and Bao were tussling in the corridor.Stuart pushed a girl, who was walking by, in the back.She kept on going. Gemma arrived. Laughing, Bao andJay forced Gemma on her back on the floor. Gemmalaughed, shouting 'No.' 'No.' When she got up she heldher back as if hurt. 2-2590In these examples, it is important not only to look atthe boys' actions, but also to examine the girls' responses.The boys' aggressive behaviour ranged from tapping the girlson the head with a pencil, to a mock rape, to pointing a"machine gun" at them. All were presented as friendlinessand humour. The girls' responses ranged from movingthemselves away from the boys, to telling the boys to moveaway from them, to compliance with the boys' actions.Physical contact undoubtedly involves sexual attraction.The combination of physical aggression and heterosexualattraction adds further to the complexity of genderrelations in the classroom.The classroom context can inhibit or promote battering.The threat of physical violence was most evident in168technical studies classrooms where students handledpotentially dangerous equipment. Here the more aggressiveboys played with the equipment, sometimes threatening eachother, less powerful boys, and girls:[Around the acid tank]Anthony: One minute left. Put on the heavy duties.[Anthony put on the rubber gloves.] If the stuff getson your face or on your clothes it will eat them away.[Holding up his gloved hands to John's face. Johnlaughed] 6-1420Rick [poking David with a soldering iron, pretending itwas hot]: I'm gonna burn you.David: Me to you. 6-1541[David walked around the room wearing the rubber glovesused in the acid tank. He pretended to put his handsin students' faces.]David [holding his hands up to Ray]: I got acid.[Ray looked angry and walked away.] 6-1627Bao picked up the air hose and squirted it at Danny andthen at Hung. Danny walked away. [I think the airhurt his eyes.] Tina, who was close by, moved awayfrom Bao and the air hose. Bao squirted air at Gemmawhile she was sanding. She stopped what she was doingand moved away. 2-2839While less powerful boys did not comment on thedominant boys' behaviour, girls commented that they senseddanger around boys:[Tina was getting paper towels from a holder on thewall beside the acid bath.]Tina [to David]: Don't open that until I'm past.6-1612Lily [to LE]: There's nothing wrong except that - well,[Anthony] takes a knife, you know, and he pokes thebench. He scares me sometimes. 9-3(46)The incidents of physical abuse were isolated and wereoften disguised as humour. Nevertheless, I would argue thatthe pattern of physical abuse practised by the dominant boys169is indicative of the acceptance of violence against women,and against men who do not support traditional notions ofmasculinity.The dominant boys worked at upholding a kind ofmasculinity which entailed verbal abuse, silencing, and"battering" women. Boys who did not support thesepractices, became victims of subordination and domination.At the same time, heterosexual attraction and girls' andless powerful boys' compliance with their domination,highlight the complexity of gender relations in classrooms.Heterosexual Relations/Policing HomosexualityWhile the antagonisms of gender were evident in theclassroom, girls and boys seemingly felt differently aboutheterosexual relationships outside of the classroom. Thestudents emphasized their heterosexuality through ideologiesof romance and sexual pleasure, and prohibitions againsthomosexuality.In interviews, I asked students to tell me about whatthey did in their spare time. Girls and boys talked to meabout similar heterosexual pursuits:Rita: Shop. That's what girls do my age, they shop.They go to [name of shopping area] on the weekend andhang out in the malls and shop. Find boyfriends.LE: How does that happen?Rita: Like you sort of meet together. Like you'll bewalking down the mall and the guys will be coming thisway and you'll stop and ask them for the time - if youthink they are cute, you know.LE: What else do you do?Rita: Shop, shop, look for guys and then go home.6-5(8)170Vinh: Go shopping - for clothes and stuff -to [name ofmalls] with my friends - sometimes girls, but mostlyboys. Go shopping for clothes and - then girls.[laughed]LE: You meet girls when you go shopping?Vinh: Yeah, sometimes, unless we really had to go forclothes. Like if there was a party we'd go shoppingfor clothes. We just get a [girl's] number from ourfriends and then we talk to [girls] on the phone. Wejust tell them to meet us somewhere. We just wanderaround the mall, or go to a movie, maybe. 1-1(36)At other times, girls and boys expressed theirheterosexual interests in different ways. Girls talkedabout romance; boys talked about sexual pleasure.Occasionally, the girls' comments were free from illusionsabout romance:Tina: Like guys like a girl, but then the girls don'tlike them. 'Cause the guys usually go for girls whoare like pretty and good looking and the girls usuallygo for the looks and the smartness.LE: Guys don't go for smartness?Tina: No. Not smarter than they are. Like if you'reover smart and he's a little dumber than you, then hemight not even go for you at all. 4-10(37)Rita: Did you say [name of male] is driving her? He'srenting [a limousine].Tanya: She's just going so she can get the limo' ride,I would. 4-1294LE: Is it important for a girl to have a boyfriend?Maria: No.Tanya: It's not important, but now it is 'cause it'sgone on for a year already. Like before I went out itwas 'So what.' I didn't really care then. Now I seehim mostly every day.Maria: Don't you get bored?Tanya: Well, mostly every day. Like I saw himyesterday, but not every day. 1-26(43)More often, however, these girls, held older boys and men inreverence and romanticized about them:[Maria called Rita over to her desk.]Maria: Did you see what it says [on this desk]?171[Girls laughed. Rita added another message to thedesk.]Rita: I'm gonna write him a letter saying 'What you doin Graphics 11?' It wasn't here last day was it?[The message read 'WC + RA - I love you too. Love RA']4-1194[Maria and Tanya were winding yarn for their kites.]Maria: Are you going to [name of school] dance again?Tanya: I might. Jeff still goes there.Maria [referring to the yarn]: Do you want a mixture?[Tanya nodded]Maria: Does he know you like him?Tanya: Yeah. Well, I don't know if he does. He's inbasketball. 3-66(32)Jennifer [ironing]: How old is he?Tanya: He's older. He's really nice. 3-39(46)Melanie [to Jill]: Don't tell anyone I told you, butRita got mad at her. He's not old enough. He shouldbe older. 2-2819Melanie [sanding]: He came over one day, but I didn'tsee him.Poonam: Does he go to school?Melanie: He's really neat. He has a car and he justgot it cleaned up.Poonam: Does it have rust on it?Melanie: Why do you say that?Poonam: Where does he live? Does he have a house?Melanie: No, he lives in one and he fixes up anotherone. He's gonna rent it out. I was helping him do it.He said 'If you want I'll pay you.' I said 'You don'thave to do that.' So, he said 'Okay.' 2-2847Tanya: She was crying, right. She was trying tooverdose. She didn't know where she was, it was awful.We were laughing. We didn't know what was going on.Rita: Who was she going out with? 4-919The girls' comments reveal how their interests in older boysand men resulted in actions ranging from graffiti, to doingunpaid work for men, to attempted suicide. As well, thecomments suggest that for these girls, symbols ofmasculinity in men are being older than a woman, being a172basketball player, owning a clean, rust-free car, and havinga house!Although not all girls were similarly interested inromance, as the year passed more girls participated inconversations about older boys and men. For example, at thebeginning of the year Tina showed little interest in boys,but by mid-year she was similarly enthused:[Jill came to class alone. Tina arrived a few minuteslater. She ran to Jill and whispered to her. Jilllooked angry, whereas Tina laughed, excitably.]Jill [shouting, disapprovingly]: He's five feet five,and he's 18![Tina retreated to her table and quietly continued withher sewing.] 3-70(22)Here, Jill's comments suggest that, unlike the other girls,she disapproves of men that are too old and too short incomparison to women.The boys' conversations about girls and women, weretied to their interests in the female body and ideologies ofsexual pleasure, rather than romance. These conversationsinvolved dominant and less powerful boys:Stuart: Bao is it Donna or Crystal?Bao: Crystal.Stuart: She's better looking....She doesn't look goodclose up though. I like girls that are better looking.3-67(29)Vinh: Kathy had a T-shirt, but the other girls hadturtle necks.Ray: Did they all strip?Vinh: No, only Kathy took her top off. Lisa didn'ttake her top off....Ray: I had no good sleep. We could see the girlsacross the window. Everybody came to have a look.Vinh: Could you see all of them?Ray: No, only four of them.173Vinh: Then we told sex jokes. There were some goodjokes too. 3-68(8)Vinh: Hey, Stu yesterday - gave [name of girl] ahickey.Stuart: Where?Vinh: On the bed. Everybody was holding her down.6-1760I did not hear any girls talk to each other about partsof men's or women's bodies, nor did I hear boys talk to eachother about romantic encounters.On the contrary, the dominant boys' talk legitimizedmen's abuse of women by stating that women enjoy beingbattered:Danny [To Bao]: I remember when Jane smacked Jim'sface. Remember when they were goofing around and Jimwas bugging her.Bao: Jane likes it though. 3-444Danny: Some [women] like being treated rotten. Theyare used to it. They don't really care. 1-145These comments reflect the circular power of hegemonicmasculinity.The boys further produced heterosexism through sexualtalk. On one occasion a few boys turned a male teacher'stalk into a sexual innuendo:[The teacher told students to look at magazine coversto get ideas for their design projects.]Teacher: Look at some magazine covers.[Jay, Stuart, Danny laughed]Teacher: Look at the information on the cover.Jay [laughing]: That's even better....Teacher: There are lots of magazines at the back.Jay: Yeah, swimsuit issue - awesome! 4-1351However, boys frequently used sexual innuendos with womanteachers. For example:174[The teacher was demonstrating how to cook pasta.]Teacher: How do you know when it's done?Rick [laughing]: Taste it.Trung [laughing]: It's soft.Teacher: Yes, you just taste it and it's soft.[Trung, Vinh, and Danny laughed quietly, repeating whatthe teacher had said.] 5-43(9)[The teacher was demonstrating how to make pizza]Teacher: It's stringy when you eat pizza.Trung [quietly]: When you eat your penis.Teacher: Putting more sauce on doesn't necessarilyimprove pizza.Stuart: Yes, it does - more is better.Jay [quietly]: More pussy.[Boys laughed quietly] 5-56(23)As well, sexuality was an accepted part of somedominant and less powerful boys' everyday talk. This wasmost evident in the technical studies classroom:Danny: Oh fuck [the power] is turned off! 6-2816David [having difficulty removing the masking tape fromhis copper piece]: Oh, bugger off. 6-1659Danny: This is 20 gauge [wire]. It feels the same.[throwing the wire across the bench]. Fuck, I don'tunderstand this. 6-3319Anthony: Fuck, it's [solder] so hot. Get me adoctor....That [wire] sucks, get another. 6-33752Vinh [to Stuart]: What the fuck you doing man? 6-3959These examples, suggest that the boys' emphasized theirmasculinity through swearing. Because they swore most oftenin the technical studies classroom, it is possible that theboys' saw swearing as a means of identifying themselves withmanual work and with work traditionally associated with men.Labelling things and individuals as gay or lesbian wasanother way of constructing heterosexism. For example,while girls and less powerful boys often stood with their175arms around each other, the dominant boys frequently madefun of such gestures:During the teacher's demonstration Danny put his armaround Stuart's shoulder. Stuart made a face andgestured with a limp wrist, as if to indicate thatDanny was gay. Danny laughed, but quickly removed hisarm. 3-1679Some boys labelled teachers, they apparently disliked, ashomosexuals:[The teacher answered the telephone in the classroom.]Rick [mimicking]: Excuse me, do you have a Mr Gay [nameof teacher].Jay: Mr Gay [name of teacher].Trung: Mr Gay [name of teacher].[Boys laughed]Teacher: That table is very noisy. 3-763As well, some boys labelled girls, and people the girlsliked, as homosexuals:[Maria walked past the boys to get stuffing for herpincushion]Bao: How come she transfer out of art class?Stuart: Who cares!Danny: Who?Stuart: Maria. What a gay - no what a lesbian name eh?I don't know why the girls like the gay guys on theblock - they suck.Stuart: That's why they like them 'cause they're gay.3-56(39)These examples show how misogyny and homophobia areintertwined in sustaining men's dominance over women. Menwho were deemed inadequate were equated with femininity andwith homosexuality. Girls who were deemed inadequate werealso equated with homosexuality, as were the boys with whomthe girls associated.Through heterosexual relations and policing ofhomosexuality students produced traditional gender176relations. Although at times girls had realistic viewsabout male-female relationships, at other times they heldolder boys and men in reverence and surrounded in mystery.By emphasizing sexual pleasure, some boys contributed tonotions of women as submissive and of men as dominant andabusive. The dominant boys' rejection of homosexualityultimately suggests contempt for those who do not conform totraditional notions of femininity and masculinity. Althoughthere were complexities and contradictions, girls and boysupheld notions of heterosexual male superiority and femalesubordination.The Body and Popular CultureExpressions of popular culture in and through the bodyplayed a part in the production of gender relations.Popular culture - fashion, music, dance, sport, andcomputers - was given gendered meanings.FashionCreating a certain image through hair style andclothing was important to most girls and some boys. Girlsand boys were interested in hair:Melanie: I can't figure out what's different. What didyou do?Poonam: Nothing. Used some gel. 2-2618Danny: Bao, your hair looks longer.Bao: Yeah, no gel.Danny: Yeah, it looks longer that way. 4-2075177Girls and boys, however, attended to their hair differently.All of the boys, except Anthony, had short hair:LE: I noticed some of the boys are having their hairshaved.David: Yeah, they leave it long here and then theyshave it on the side. They just think it looks good.I'm not going to get mine done. I just get mine spikedor something like that.LE: Where did that style start?David: It started with a couple of guys. They startedit and now a lot of people are getting it done....Justa couple of people had a little bit there, noweverybody has this little line on the head, there.17-6(44)All of the girls, except Jennifer, had long hair and most ofthe girls spent time rearranging their hair in theclassroom:Rita [looking at her hair in the teacher'sdemonstration mirror): Do you think I should break itup, or does it look good like that? 3-73(12)Maria: Are you wearing your bangs like that [for theschool dance)?Tanya: I dunno. I used to have my bangs long.Rita: You used to wear your bangs on that side.Tanya: Well, I did it over the Christmas holidays. Idid it for a week. 4-1294Occasionally, the girls tied their hair back with ribbons orbarrettes. At other times, the girls constantly movedtheir hair with their hands, or tilted their heads on oneside, to keep their hair from falling in their faces. Somegirls exaggerated this movement, as if attempting to createa sultry image.Some girls experimented with make-up and perfume in theclassroom:[While sewing, Rita handed Maria a tray of eyeshadow.)178Rita [looking at the eyeshadow tray]: Would blue lookgood? Has Jennifer had her hair cut? It looks shorter?Maria [preoccupied with the eyeshadow]: I think so. Idunno. 3-73(12)[Melanie was reading the teacher's Vogue magazine. Aperfume sample was embedded in a page. She scratchedthe page and breathed in deeply. The scent driftedacross the table.]Rita: Oh, gross.Maria [smelling the page]: I think it's nice.Rita [removing a bottle of perfume from her pocket]: Ibought it.[Rita took a sniff and passed the perfume to Maria.]Maria: How much?Rita: Fifteen.Maria [smelling the perfume and dabbing it on herneck]: Oh, it's so nice. Did you buy the big one?Rita: I bought the big one and the little one.Melanie: Hand over the bottle.[Melanie dabbed perfume on both sides of her neck. Thegirls suddenly realized I was watching them. Theylooked at me, laughing] 3-22(16)The arranging of hair and make-up took time and skill. Itwas something that girls learned from each other. Thegirls' practice contributed to a kind of femininity thatemphasizes the notion that women's appearance is never goodenough; it must always be improved.Students also expressed their identity throughclothing. While girls and boys dressed similarly in pants,T-shirts, and sneakers, their clothing was also gendered.Girls wore jeans or pastel casual pants some of the time, atother times they also wore tight, black, leotard-typeleggings. Some girls, occasionally, wore skirts and somewore frilly blouses under their sweaters. Some girls'sneakers were trimmed with a pastel-pink binding, and theirshoes with bows and buckles.179Boys tended to wear darker colours than girls. Theyusually wore heavy, leather, basketball sneakers. Some boyswore "baseball" caps, inside as well as outside theclassroom. Boys' caps and T-shirts were embossed with logosof beer companies, sports clothing manufacturers, andinternational sports teams. Anthony's shirts frequentlyexpressed violent messages:Anthony's shirt was embossed with the words: 'Shit,''Fart,' 'Party Animal,' 'You piss me off,' and 'Go fuckyourself.' 2-1046Anthony's shirt read: 'Iron Maiden - Beast of the Road'and had a grotesque creature printed on the front andback. 3-957The front of Anthony's shirt read: 'Diary of a MadMan.' 3-644Wearing clothing with a fashion logo was important tosome boys:[The teacher talked about manufacturer's logos. Heasked students to count the logos on their clothes.]Jay: What about your glasses, Ray?Teacher [surprised]: Do his glasses have a logo?Jay: Yes, they're 'POLO.'Teacher: Oh, excuse me....[pointing to a boys' shirt]Look, 'Nike' has the swoop.Jay: It's the 'swoosh.'Teacher: Sorry, 'swoosh.' 4-2352And for other boys it was important to know about thelatest sport footwear and to wear it "correctly."[Danny was showing his white leather, high-cut sneakersto Bao and Stuart.]Danny: I think they would look good if they only cameup to the green part.Bao: Just fold them down to the green part.Danny: Yeah, if I just fold it down. Bao, you're sosmart. [Danny folded down the top of his sneakers.]Does that look good?Stuart: Looks like a three-quarter cut.180Danny: I like three-quarter cut better.Stuart: So do I. 3-58(41)Students' clothing also expressed their interest inpopular music:[Rita's T-shirt was embossed with a large photograph]LE: Who is that?Rita: It's Joe.LE: Who's Joe?Rita: From 'New Kids on the Block.' 4-2603[Anthony's T-shirt was embossed with 'W.Y.']LE: What does 'W.Y.' stand for?Anthony: 'Wasted Youth.'LE: What's that?Anthony: 'Guns and Roses.'LE: What's that?Anthony: A heavy metal band. 4-2815Differences between girls' and boys' fashion interests wereevident when the drafting teacher asked the group to drawlogos on the blackboard:Girls' drew fashion logos: IMEXX,"Keds,"Esprit,''LA Gear,' and 'Coconut Joe.' Boys' drew sportsymbols: 'Fila,"Nike,"Flight,"LA Raiders,' and'LA Dodgers.' 4-2340Students' belongings were an extension of the body andalso contributed to their gender identities. Most of thegirls carried pastel pencil cases and binders decorated withpictures of kittens and pop stars. The boys tended to carryplain, dark binders. A few boys adorned their binders withtheir own drawings and writing:Anthony drew a revolver, a rifle, and a skull andcrossbones on his binder cover. 6-231Anthony had 'Born to Kill,' 'Sex Pistols,' 'Kawasaki,'and 'Drink Jack Daniels' written on the spine of hisbinder. 6-1798181Thanh's binder had 'It only hurts the first time' and'Cow' written on the cover. Ray's said 'I was bornhorny.' 4-218I did not notice any girls' clothing or belongings havingsexual or violent messages.A few students crossed gendered clothing boundaries.For example, Rita frequently wore a large, leather jacketand heavy, leather, basketball sneakers, similar to thoseworn by most boys. Bao frequently wore shoes without socksand leotard-type pants, similar to those worn by some of thegirls. Yet, it was Bao who made the most fuss about havingto wear an apron in the food and nutrition section of theprogram:Bao [putting on an apron]: How do you like my dress?[wiggling his hips] Sexy, eh? 5-26(21)Whereas, Jay, more of a "macho" type, did not comment:Jay sat waiting for the teacher to start. He waswearing his 'Molson Canadian' cap and a yellow floweredapron with frills he had brought from home. 5-222Although, I did not hear the girls comment about otherstudents' clothing, the dominant boys frequently commentedon girls' clothing, especially Jennifer's:[Jennifer arrived at school wearing yellow and blackstriped tights and a matching skirt. She changed intojeans at recess.]Stuart: Hey, Jennifer, why didn't you keep your dresson?Danny: Hey, Jennifer, where's your skirt?Jennifer: I changed. [quietly to Jill] They're so mean.Jill: Yeah, guys are mean. 3-2124Later Jennifer told me she had changed into jeans becausethe boys had "made fun" of her outfit. In interviews, the182girls' comments suggest that the dominant boys' response togirls' clothing was not unusual:Maria: Stuart makes fun of us. Let's say I'm walkingpast him and he's obviously going to say somethingabout me. He goes 'Oh, look at her pants, they're toobig on her,' or something like that. 1-30(32)Poonam: Sometimes the boys make fun of you and thegirls don't like it....Sometimes they make fun of theclothes you're wearing, or if they get their hairpermed, they call them names or something. 2-4(23)The students' comments suggest that some of the boys usedgirls' clothing as a kind of thermometer or symbol of girls'freedom. Girls who drew attention to themselves throughtheir clothing (Jennifer wearing striped tights) werecensored, as well as those who did not conform totraditional notions of men's desires (Maria wearing baggypants).DanceFor a few girls and boys it was important to know howto do funk dancing. While these students told me theyenjoyed funk dancing and practised at home, Jenniferdisplayed her skills in the classroom:[Jennifer and Jay were arguing about who was the bestat funk dancing. Jennifer demonstrated a routine.]Jay: You're awkward.Jennifer: I learned a new one.[Jennifer demonstrated a routine.]Jay: Oh, I can do that.Jennifer: You don't know how to do it. Show us.Jay: I know.Jennifer: $20.[Jennifer shook Jay's hand, as if taking a bet.]Danny: $20 to do what, Jay?Jay: Drop. I can do it easy.Jennifer: Let's see it then, Jay.183Jay: Any day.Tanya: He can't do it man. You're can't do it. You'reuseless.Jennifer: I suck at it and I'm better than you.Danny: Ooh, ooh, hear that Jay![Jennifer demonstrated the routine.]Danny: Do the 'drop.'[Jennifer demonstrated the 'drop.')Jay: You jump it. You're supposed to slide.[Jennifer demonstrated the move again.]Ray: It's not like that.Jennifer: Yes, it is! He thinks he's cool, but hewon't do it.[Jennifer continued dancing]Teacher: Excuse me. Can I see you two a minute?6-1029Here, Jennifer was able to demonstrate her skills andexpress her pleasure in dancing. However, the boys'taunting, and Jennifer's rebuttal, exaggerated her sexualityand tied her to traditional notions of femininity. As well,Jay's response tied him to a masculinity that demandedauthority and expertise, and an unwillingness to riskfailure.Sport,Sport was an important part of most boys and some girlsgender identity. Most boys fantasized about sport,especially basketball and ice hockey, about their malesports' heroes, and about who, among their own group as wellas the national teams, was the fastest and the best, andabove all who was going to win.The dominant boys talked with authority and competedwith each other about who knew the most about sport. Theirtalk was profuse with violent images of "killing,"184"beating," "slamming," or "smashing" someone else. The boystalked often about sport while they worked on theirprojects. Sometimes they talked about sport they hadwatched on television:Trung: Wasn't it supposed to be Mike Tyson?Stuart: Not any more. Douglas is now.Trung: He got kicked out?Stuart: Yeah.Trung: Isn't the guy going to get a rematch? Did yousee it?Stuart: Who?Trung: The fight between Tyson and Douglas. I did.Stuart: So.Trung: I saw it in French.Stuart: And you didn't understand a thing. [Laughter]The guy wasn't hit, he could have got up.Trung: No, he was looking for his mouthpiece.Stuart: The guy was stupid, looking for his mouthpiece.Danny: Who cares? Tyson will win it back, anyways.Trung: When is the rematch?Stuart: In a year.Danny: No, in July it said.[Jill sat in the group through all of this, but saidnothing.] 4-1936At other times, the boys talked about their own games:Stuart: That guy went and put his foot out. Theycalled it a foul.Danny: Casey jumped at him.Stuart: That Number 4 guy, right, Nelson pushed him.Danny: No, Number 31, the guy called it. I didn't eventouch the guy.Stuart: He knows what to do. How could they call afoul on me? I jumped up. I went like this[demonstrated what he did]. They called a foul. Ididn't head-but him or anything. 4-2135These examples show how the boys lived the experience ofsport. They blurred the distinction between professionalsport and their own games. Style, language, and authoritywere very much a part of the fantasy. The boys re-lived185this fantasy while they worked on their projects in the homeeconomics and technical studies classrooms.Few girls talked about sport. The girls' talkreflected their interests in sport typically assigned togirls, and illustrated how, through bake sales, they raisedfunds for girls' events, something which boys did not talkabout. Those girls who did talk about sport, talked aboutgirls' gymnastics:[Tina told me about an inter-school gymnasticscompetition held the previous day.]Tina: It was a big competition. We did well. I got5.5, 7.7 is very good. My friend got 7.6. But myother friend she twisted her leg, she was two weeks offschool. This is my sixth year of competition. Istarted when I was 10, I think. 4-1652Tina: You know she fell over. She was dizzy. She letgo too fast and slided.Maria: What did Miss [name of teacher] say?Tina: She wasn't watching. Rachel - on the vault - shegot 7.6.Tanya: Who was the judge?Tina: She knew what she'd get.Maria: Don't worry about it. 4-1598These examples, show how the girls' talk about sport was notdiffused with violence and it did not consume them in thesame way as it did boys. Although the girls werecompetitive, their talk emphasized their failures over theirsuccesses.Occasionally, girls and boys talked about sporttogether:[Whilst varnishing]Stuart: What time did you leave?Danny: Seven.Stuart: Stupid man. He gave us three passes.Jay: It is ?186Stuart: No, it's inside line. Grade 9 didn't take anypasses.Jay: They did. After Grade 9 the score was 54 to 53.Jennifer: They didn't lose did they? They have to loseby two points.Bao: You don't have to lose by two points.Stuart: They scored wrong, they cheated.Bao: [The coach] going crazy, eh?Stuart: I know. [The coach] said 'We gonna lose today'and we did.Jay: I only scored two goals.Stuart: I scored three.Danny: How many Jasper score? Jasper's not that good.Jennifer: No. He's better at soccer.Stuart: You could never play.Gemma: I could. I play.Jay: You could?Stuart: I remember when [name of girl] had the niceshorts.Jennifer: We had to wear butterfly collars. You guysget the tank tops. At least we get the shorts.Stuart: You get other people's shorts. I would ratherwear my own. That's a joke. 2-3188The girls were spectators of, and supporters of, the boys'conversation. When the girls entered the conversation,Stuart changed the topic to comments about girls' shorts,thereby undermining girls' participation in sport.Computers Whereas most girls showed little interest in learningor talking about computers, a group of dominant and lessdominant boys were consumed by this kind of technology.These boys postured their knowledge about the latestcomputer technology, whether it be a calculator, a videogame, a computerized sewing machine, or a hard drivecomputer.In many ways the boys' computer talk resembled theirtalk about sport. A competition evolved around who knew the187most about computers and who had, or knew someone who had,the latest computer hardware. And the boys who readcomputer magazines and owned a hard-drive distinguishedthemselves from boys who just played computer games in thelocal video arcade. Belonging to the group meant masteringa specific language. Those who could use the language,proficiently, ridiculed those who didn't quite get it right.The language had masculine overtones - "hard-drive" and"joysticks" - terms that the boys turned into sexualinnuendos. Who belonged and did not belong was governed byboys' positioning. The boys' computer talk was part oftheir positioning:Teacher: I bought a Commodore a few years ago.Remember that?Rick: Oh yuk! IBM's blown Commodore away.[Boys started to laugh and made comments aboutCommodore computers.]Rick: I got stuck with a Commodore. Okay! 6-251[Trung, Rick, and John were looking at two computers atthe side of the room.]Trung: Monochrome screen, right?Rick: It is? Yeah it is. You have a keyboard likethis except it's a hard drive, right?Trung: Yeah. You have a Commodore right?Rick: Who me? No him [pointing to John].Trung: It's [school machine] a pretty old one. [ToJohn] You shouldn't have got a Commodore. 6-1377Stuart: He only plays games.Rick [laughing]: He has an IBM and he only plays games!Stuart [laughing]: Yeah, he only has two games, that'sall. They aren't even his, they are borrowed. 4-1520Such talk perpetuated a masculinity interested intechnology, competition, and control. I did not hear any188girls talk about computers. Girls' silence on this topic,was part of their gender identity.Many of the examples show how popular culture isexpressed through the body in the context of the classroom.It is not, for example, fashion, dance, or sport inthemselves that produce gender identities. Rather, it isthe meaning that students assign to funk dancing, fashion,sport, or computers that connects it with gender ideology.SummaryThus, while there were tensions and contradictions, thesocial relations of the classroom played a part in theconstruction of traditional gender relations. Through bestfriendships and group formation students developed theirgender identities and expressed hostility toward those whodid not meet certain gendered expectations.Although interaction was complex, a pattern wasestablished where the girls were silent and subservient to agroup of boys. These boys held power and control over girlsand their woman teachers, and over boys who did not supporttheir particular practices. The dominant boys' maintainedtheir positioning through verbal harassment and battering ofgirls and less dominant boys. The dominant boys' violencetowards women became so commonplace that the girls said theybecame used to it, and they said it should not be takenseriously.189Heterosexism confined girls to ideologies of romanceand boys to ideologies of sexual pleasure. Both confinedwomen and men to traditional gendered positions. Theposturing of heterosexism also involved the policing ofhomosexuality. This produced an acceptance of aheterosexual masculinity while prohibiting other kinds. Aswell, the students' expressions of popular culture -fashion, music, dance, sport, and computers - in and throughthe body, served to accentuate traditional notions offemininity and masculinity while subverting other kinds.190CHAPTER 6TEACHERS' REFLECTIONS ON THEIR PRACTICEInterviews with the teachers and their responses to theobservation protocols helped my understanding of the socialand political context of teachers' work. This chapter dealswith the assumptions that underlie the teachers' work, theirviews of teaching and learning, the difficulties they face,and the conditions of their work.This chapter is organized into three sections. Thefirst section explores the teachers' understandings ofgender equity and how their commitment to gender as a socialissue has shaped their work. The second section deals withthe conditions of the teachers' work and the constraints ontheir practice. The third section illustrates how theteachers viewed my interpretation of life in theirclassrooms through an ideology of liberalism andindividualism. Throughout, the teachers' reflections ontheir practice provided possibilities for pedagogicalchange.Teachers' Understandings of Gender EquityInterviews with the teachers revealed how their workwas shaped by particular views of gender equity. Theteachers' understandings about gender equity were reflectedin their accounts of their own lives, in their goals for the191coeducational home economics and technical studies program,and in their views of teaching and learning.The teachers talked to me about their positions ongender equity. Technical studies teachers said:Steve: I don't think I've ever been a sexist person. Imean I grew up with that sense that boys did this andgirls did that, but I've never been one. 7-3(50)Jim: I don't see any reason why a woman shouldn't be acarpenter and build houses as they are doing more ofnow, and make the same wages as a man....Instead ofgoing into the office and doing the traditional workthat is going on there. No wonder there is a disparityin wages. 11-6(32)Peter: I try to treat all the children equally. I tryto be very careful with my language and I still catchmyself on a few things....I try not to use genderspecific language with the students. I try to treatthem equally and fairly. 9-10(9)Steve was aware of gender as an issue, while Jim wasconcerned about equal access, and Peter about personalpractice.Home economics teachers talked about gender equity andfeminism. They said:Janet: I'm not a feminist. I don't think a lot aboutthese things. Maybe I should be more uptight about itall, but I'm not....I'm simply a human trying to do mybest with those I come in contact with. I try to besensitive to them on the basis of what we are doing atthe time. And whether they are male or female makes nodifference. I believe in justice, but not in feminism.I don't like it when a woman is given a job justbecause she happens to be a woman - that really bothersme - or because a man is given a job because they don'twant a woman. The person best qualified should get thejob.LE: The difficulty is who decides who is qualified andon what basis?Janet: I know. I know. Women have to do better thanmen and all of that. I know. I'm the ostrich I burymy head in the sand and I don't think about it. There192are certain things in this life we can't do much about.1-6(51)Mary: I'm not a bra-burner, but I think that a womanshould remain independent....I'm definitely againstman-made laws that make women chattels. I rather likehaving the door opened for me once in a while, butother than that we are all equals. 3-28(38)Carol: My major concern in teaching Grade 8 familymanagement is gender equity. That seems to be myover-riding concern....I can't think about any topicwithout thinking about gender. I can't think aboutcommunication without thinking about gender. So Iguess I see myself as going through a consciousnessraising thing with the kids. Consciousness aboutgender and family and communication and self. Youcan't look at yourself without thinking about genderand you can't look at family relationships withoutthinking about gender. 5-6(18)Janet was aware of feminist arguments, but she did notsupport affirmative action, preferring a "humanistic"approach to gender inequality. Mary supported some feministpositions, but did not associate herself with feminism perse. Carol aligned herself with the feminist movement andattempted to raise the consciousness of students in herclassroom.Opportunities for girls and boys to engage intraditional and non-traditional activities were important tothe teachers, as children and as parents. Peter and Jimtold me:Peter: When I was in Grade 8 I elected not to take alanguage. So they didn't know where to stick me. Forsome reason I couldn't take home ec' so they stuck mein a second block of IE [industrial education]. I hadto take Grade 8 IE twice. That was dull so I ended upin drama. I couldn't take home ec' and I wanted tolearn how to cook and sew and all that. Now you can,which is great. 9-3(39)193Jim: I have a son and a daughter and I try very hard athome not to make any differences. It's just asimportant to go to my daughter's soccer game as it isto go to my son's football game. And it's just asimportant to ask how well she did in her sports as askhim. I sincerely don't want to make that distinctionat home. I don't want to here either...because I don'tthink it should be there. Certainly not in educationand certainly not seeing that so many girls don't takephysics because of something or other, and math becauseof something or other, or electronics because ofsomething or other. It irritates me. It really annoysme. I don't want my daughter to get into that scenewhere she says physics is only for boys. If a girlsays this is for boys then that would rile me up and Iwould be prepared to do battle. 11-15(51)And Carol and Mary talked about how their personalexperiences of oppression as ex-wives and mothers haddirectly influenced their practice:Carol: I was always resistant to traditional homeec'....We were caught up in too much detail and we weretoo picky....We were setting up a standard thatcouldn't be maintained for women when they go out inthe workforce. And we were setting up a standard thatmen wouldn't be willing to maintain when they werepulling their weight at home. I've been part of thechange. When I had two children and a full-time joband no husband, I became more realistic about whatpeople could cope with in homes and families. 5-8(15)Mary: When I was raising the kids on my own, I hadthree girls and two boys and everyone did the same.This really hit home and I guess that was why I was somuch in favour of coed' home ec'. Everybody learned todo everything. I was going to work and there were fivekids....They were taught everything and they werecapable of doing it. I think too many mothers do toomuch for their sons. They're unkind because they aretoo kind. 3-4(32)These personal commitments to gender equity extendedinto active involvement in professional work. Mary wasinvolved in setting up the coeducational home economics andtechnical studies program in the school:194I felt very strongly that the boys and girls should getthe same training...so we asked our principal if wecould set up a coed' program. He was very negative.He said 'Oh, the people in this area.'...I said thatmany men in the area were tailors and cooks so I didn'tsee that there would be any objection. Anyway we triedto pass it to the staff...but the IE [industrialeducation] teachers didn't like the idea. They saidthey would lose their time. We had lots of boys inGrade 8 foods and we knew that we would drop one fullclass by doing this, but we still believed in it...soit didn't pass that time. But that was with oneprincipal. So we brought it up two years later - weweren't going to let it die. The vice-principal atthat time was very much for it and we managed topersuade the principal. So then we got it in, much tothe horror of the IE department....That must have been1980 and we've had it ever since. 3-1(12)And Carol and Jim told me about their present professionalcommitments to promoting gender equity in schooling:Carol: I have sent in my gender criticisms of the newfamily management curriculum. I questioned theinclusion of certain things, but basically all I waslooking for was language. I wasn't looking for thebigger ideas....I'm feeling freer to criticize all ofthe time as I become more comfortable with it myself.I've always felt like the black sheep, or as if Iwalked to a different drummer or something. I feltdifferent from all the other [home economics teachers]and sometimes I kept quiet because I felt as if I wasalways criticizing, always bringing up gender. But nowI'm bringing it up more than ever and the people I'msaying it to are more receptive. 5-4(19)Jim: I'm on the Staff Development ConsultativeCommittee of the [School] Board - that's the committeethat mandated the coed' program. By next year all ofthe schools' [home economics and technical studiesdepartments] will be coeducational. We began three orfour years ago.... Basically I thought it was the way wehad to go - do it now, or do it later. 11-1(18)The teachers had applied their ideological commitments totheir practice. In initiating the coeducational homeeconomics and technical studies program at the professionallevel, Mary and Jim demonstrated their concerns about195equality of access. In engaging in feminist critique, Caroldemonstrated her interest in consciousness raising. Also,Carol's comments echo issues raised in the literature aboutthe difficulties feminist teachers encounter in theirrelationships with other people at work. Her feeling like a"black sheep" constrained her speaking out.The teachers' positions on gender equity were reflectedin their goals for the coeducational home economics andtechnical studies program. In describing their courses tome home economics teachers said:Janet: It is intended to give the students anintroduction to the basic areas of home economics.Content is secondary. I think what we are doing isintroducing them to a space, to a teacher, to a subjectarea. Hopefully turn them on in some areas so whenthey have an option in Grade 9 they will know wherethey want to go. 1-1(7)Mary: You don't want to stereotype these roles. Itgives them the chance to make some kind of decision fortheir electives next year...and it's something theyhave to do all of their lives. 3-3(12)Carol: I want the students to be able to criticizetraditions in terms of what they do to women, what theysay about women, the position they put women in.5-6(22)And technical studies teachers said:Peter: Probably the most important part is breakingdown the stereotypes - that girls only take home ec'and boys take technical studies. 9-2(51)Jim: I guess it's to get away from the idea that girlsdo this and boys do that....It is just as important forwomen and girls to learn about woodwork - there are allkinds of women now that are carpenters - why shouldn'tthey be? ^The trades should be open to everyone....Itis just as important for a girl to use a screwdrivercorrectly as it is for a boy....I think what we aretrying to do is to give them an introduction to the196technologies - these three areas. Hopefully toencourage them to come back and take more courses...togive them enough of an idea so that some of themthink...'Well I'll really like to pursue that further.'The objective isn't to have everybody efficiently usetools, although that is important. So as well as thecurriculum...it's really to encourage them back intothe field at the next level. 11-1(51)Steve: Well, first of all, I'm not producingwoodworkers. If some kid takes a liking to it andwants to go into it, fine. The purpose is more to givethem a rounded education. It's part of theireducation.... It gives them a chance and it gives me achance to teach girls and hopefully get them later inGrades 9, 10, 11 and 12....You know if you open it upto girls then maybe we could get more kids in theshops....that makes your classes larger....A lot of uswent through declining enrolments. 7-1(16)Although the teachers had different views about genderequity, they believed that girls and boys should becompetent in domestic and technical work and that thecoeducational program would prepare students fornon-stereotyped roles and relationships and broader careerchoices. In this way the teachers' beliefs and convictionschallenged traditional stereotypes and promoted genderequity.Sameness/DifferenceIn talking with teachers about their commitment togender equity, I explored what this meant to them in theirclassroom practice. I raised the issue of whether girls andboys should be treated the same or differently in mixed-sexclassrooms. The teachers' responses were divided acrosssubject area and gender lines. Home economics teacherstended to favour a sensitivity to differences; technical197studies teachers believed that girls and boys should betreated "the same."Home economics teachers said they adapted theirprograms to make boys feel comfortable:Mary: I just treat them the same. I figure they've allgot the same intelligence. I think I make allowancesfor the boys if they blunder, but I do for the girlstoo...but I do just cover the basics because the boyswould get a little lost. 3-15(38)Carol: I want to get boys more comfortable with thethings women have traditionally done...so that womencan get out and have careers and so forth....To helpboys later on in their relationships with women.5-1(33)Janet said she was trying to achieve a delicate balancebetween treating students equally and yet differently. Shesaid:As human beings we should treat each other equally to acertain extent as far as respect and the basic kinds ofthings we expect from one human being to another. Butyou have to treat them differently. I have difficultytalking about it. When you are speaking to a wholeclass of kids you speak to them as asexuals. You don'teven think about it, but when you are dealing withthem, one to one you have to. I certainly don't treatthem the same....You have to make a distinction becausethey need to feel comfortable....I say 'This is amachine. It has a clutch'....All these similarities tothings that are masculine helps. I think I joke withthe boys more than I do with the girls....They need tofeel secure in what is traditionally a girls' area.1-5(46)In talking about girls, Janet said:I don't think I do anything special for the girls. Isimply treat them like young ladies. I obviously don'thave much to say about the girls. I don't make theeffort so much. I may comment on things they arewearing, both boys and girls for that matter...we maytalk fashion things. 1-6(51)198....We certainly get enough girls coming back at theGrade 9 level...so whatever we do is satisfactory forthem. I guess they are sufficiently turned on.2-5(25)Because girls continued to enrol in home economics, Janetbelieved that the curriculum was already meeting girls'needs. The home economics teachers' discourse around gendersensitivity mainly focused on boys. Their emphasis was onremediation.Technical studies teachers articulated the officialschool stance that girls and boys should be treated "thesame":Jim: Consciously, I don't want to make a distinction[between girls and boys), because I don't think weshould. 11-16(3)Steve: Strictly they are the body that comes in thedoor, whether it's a boy or a girl it doesn't matter.The girls do just as good a job and just as poor a jobas the boys. It all depends on their abilities.7-2(40)Peter: I don't think I treat them as girls and boys,it's just more students. I tend to group them byability and characteristics, rather than boys andgirls...I don't think about [gender) that much becauseI don't think it's a big problem in this classroom....Itry to treat all the children equally. I try to bevery careful with my language....I try not to usegender specific language with the students. I try totreat them equally and fairly. [Do you need to treatthem differently?] I think if you are treating themdifferently then you are not treating them equally.9-8(33)The technical studies teachers did see that students neededto be treated differently according to interest and ability.When I attempted to extend the teachers' acknowledgement of199diversity to issues of gender, the technical studiesteachers said:Peter: I think I am less tolerant of the boys because Ithink I assume they should know more, especially withthe hands-on kinds of stuff. It's terrible to thinkthat, but I think I'm more critical of the boys thanthe girls in some regards. 9-8(29)Jim: Unless they put in something specific likejewellery making which is directed at girls - they usedto offer a thing called 'Powder Puff Car Care'. So ifit's directed at girls they seem to go for it, but ifwe don't direct it at them - well, I'm not getting manygirls back. 11-5(23)....I bet if you talk to all Grade 8s you would neverfind one girl who would read 'Electronics Simplified'[magazine]. 11-11(53)Jim's latter comment agrees with Maria's and Tanya'scomments about their lack of interest in technical magazines(See p. 84).The technical studies teachers wanted to believe thatthey did treat students the same. They viewed attention todifferences among students as discriminatory, but at thesame time they acknowledged the existence of diversity amongstudents. The home economics teachers, in their attentionto boys' gendered experiences, viewed attention todifferences as remedial. Neither group saw attention todifference in terms of providing for girls' and boys'diverse interests, experiences, and ways of knowing.When this was pointed out in the process of research,home economics teachers wondered about their own practice:Janet: When I read your observations I was thinking'Have I crossed over the field so far that I almostteach to the boys?' 'Have I developed a style that is200more exciting for them than for the girls?' I reallywant [boys] to like it. 1-4(50)Mary: In one way it would be nice to have a boys' classand a girls' class, because then you could adapt it ata higher level for the girls....I'm teaching to a lowerlevel when I think of it. 3-16(29)Carol: I have thought a lot about whether I would liketo have separate classes because it may be too earlyfor some of these boys to talk about theirrelationships with women....But maybe we need separateclasses not so much for the boys but for the girls, sowe can talk about those things without the boys thereto put them down, laugh, chatter, or whatever.1-15(13)The teachers wanted to meet the needs of students. Butthey had rejected single-sex education for coeducation, andeven in a single sex classroom they would have to attend todiversity among students. Power relations in classroomswould still need attention; less powerful boys, like girls,were humiliated and controlled by the dominant boys.Technical studies teachers were less ready to acceptoverall differences between male and female students.Steve: I don't find much difference between the boysand the girls. Some of the girls are a littlereluctant, but they come around. 8-4(4)Peter: I guess the range of experiences that I amdrawing on are common to all children. The differenceis whether they are interested in doing it or not. Howmuch they are interested in pursuing it on their own.There are a few kids that have just natural artisticability. 9-10(41)....The subject matter that I wasteaching them - there was very little discrepancy inwhat the girls can do and what the boys can do....Ifthey are doing good quality work I sort of assume theyare interested in it. 10-2(51)The technical studies teachers reasoned that because girlsand boys produced equally good work, the work was201appropriate for both sexes. As well, because girls did notcomplain and were seen to "come around" it was assumed theywere enjoying the program.As well, Jim said that students' (mostly girls) lack ofunderstanding about what they were doing in electronics hadto do with their intellectual development. He said:[Electronics] is really an introduction to the field.It's working with resistors and different components -this is what a resistor looks like and this is what acapacitor looks like....To have some idea whatsoldering is all about...and the safety of it. So,it's at that level - here's a recipe put it together.It's not - What is that made of? Why does it do that?None of that. It's strictly identification...andfollowing directions. 11-4(14)Jim argued that it was inappropriate to expect Grade 8students to be able to explain what they were doing inelectronics. He argued that, given time, girls wouldunderstand electronics and take an interest in the area.Gender SensitivityI talked with teachers about the possibility ofdeveloping a more gender-sensitive curriculum. Jim said:What is it that [girls] want that we are not doing? Iwould love to know the answer to that. I mean thejewellery-making course - that's an example - but theycome and go. So that's not the answer. But I wouldlove to know, because I'm quite prepared to make majormodifications to entice the girls in, because I thinkin this day and age it is important. 11-12(33)Jim is sensitive to the dangers of "one-off," "add-on" kindsof courses. He believed that major changes were required toencourage girls into technical studies at the senior high202school level, but he was not clear about what such changesmight entail.Peter asked me for some specific examples of a gendersensitive approach to technical studies. I suggested thatas well as talking about designing bridges and space-craft,he might include such topics as designing a day-care center,a children's playground, or a bus shelter, or discuss theeffects of reproductive technology. Peter was interested,but replied:But, women use bridges too. 10-8(32)I responded by saying that while women and men use thesethings, they might have different interests in them becauseof their past gendered experiences:I think it's the examples that we use that sparkinterest because of our past experiences. Like a busshelter - it might seem mundane to talk about how a busshelter is designed - but I think that men might lookat bus shelters differently than women. If a woman isstanding in a bus shelter late at night and beside herthere's this life-size photograph of a woman in herunderwear - as happens here in Vancouver - then a womanmight not feel terribly comfortable....For me thecourse would be more gender sensitive if it includedthings that were more directly related to girls' andwomen's experiences. 10-9(31)Peter's remark and my response to it show the difficulty ofrethinking technology from a feminist point of view. Intalking about gender differences there are inherent risks inessentializing women's experience. There are also risks infalling into the trap of changing the project, as I did,without examining the assumptions underlying technologyeducation.203With home economics teachers I raised questions aboutthe possibility of having more student input into thecurriculum. Teachers said:Carol: I guess I don't know how to make it less teachercentered. I do try at times to get the kids discussingthings in groups, but that isn't always fruitful.Although I think kids need time to discuss in groups.Though there is a need to control the direction theconversation is going. 6-6(16)Janet: We did that a few years ago when we had longerwith the Grade 8 program. We start that now at Grade 9- the kids have input into what they make. But youcan't do that at the Grade 8 level. There's not time.1-8(28)....Well, they get to choose fabric or color. Givingthem creative opportunities...I'm not so rigid...I say'You can put blue stitching on red. You can make ityours. You can make it unique.' If you approach aproject like that it appeals to boys and girls.1-20(8)Mary: I doubt it - because really the boys would getlost....You have to stick to something simple likemuffins and biscuits and then there's four periodsgone. Then there's the next six [periods] and that'sten gone....They love to do the pizza at the end, it'sjust - well, they'd be so disappointed. Kids areawful, if you try and change, forget it. 3-16(46)....It's very basic, I just don't know what you coulddo to make it more interesting. I know muffins andbiscuits are very dull, but I don't think [girls] haveany objection.... It has to be simple. The kids have toget it cooked in that hour. I mean what else can youdo? 4-6(6)The teachers' comments suggest that they were receptive tostudent input. Although Carol welcomed student input, shefelt the need to be in control of what happens in theclassroom. Janet and Mary justified their hesitancy torelinquish control through their construction of students asaccepting of present conditions and reluctant to accept204change. As well, the teachers argued that student input wasnot possible given the conditions of their work.The Conditions of Teachers , WorkIn talking to me about their work, teachers spoke aboutdimensions of school organization that controlled andlimited their classroom practice. Teachers talkedrepeatedly about their isolation from other teachers, theintensification of their work, their concerns about subjectenrolment, and their additional responsibilities such asstudent evaluation and safety. The conditions of teachers'work constrained their practice and tempered the teachers'responses to gender relations in their classrooms.IsolationFor the most part, teachers worked individually and inisolation. At the beginning of the year the teachers met asa group to organize the coeducational program, and duringthe year they had short, impromptu conversations duringlunch or recess to confirm change-over dates and evaluationprocedures. But, teachers worked individually on curriculumdevelopment.The coeducational home economics and technical studiesprogram was a teacher-driven, school-based initiative.Because the program was not mandated provincially there wasnot a formal curriculum guide. Although the District wasformulating mandatory directives for Grade 8 coeducational205home economics and technical studies, a curriculum guide wasnot available. Each school, therefore, was required todevelop its own curriculum. Teachers adapted curriculumguides in use prior to reorganization for the coeducationalprogram, and they shared ideas informally with otherteachers in the district, but ultimately they made their owndecisions about what and how to teach.The teachers decided on their own about what to includein the curriculum. For example:Carol: I have to keep thinking about what to do all thetime. It isn't very sensible to do much planning inadvance because I need to have a sense of what theclass is like before I do it. 5-28(16)Mary: Well, it's very basic. I talk about eating ahealthy diet. Then I bring in - well, it's three mealsreally - a breakfast, a lunch - macaroni and cheese,which is your basic white sauce and cooking pasta, andI put carrots with it so that covers 'fruits andvegetables', and then fried rice. I do biscuits andmuffins at the beginning, so the kids get to know eachother and they couldn't possibly start a meal at thebeginning....I hate to spend so much time on muffinsand biscuits, but I don't know if they are capable ofputting anything together before they've had muffins.3-6(6)Steve: I try to make things they can use. That theycan use or their parents can use....It's my decision. Ijust decide. I like to change them all of the time. Ibuy books....I'm always looking and if I see somethingthen I make it to see how easy or how hard it is tomake....My biggest frustration is to get them to dowhat I want them to do, not, you know, they decide whatthey're going to do. You know, if I tell them thatthis is how we are going to do it and they decidethey're going to do it another way, then I get reallyfrustrated. 2-8(27)Peter: I try to structure everything so that most ofthe kids can have a feeling of success. I mean a lotof people feel that they can't draw. Graphics is a lotof drawing, so I have tried to structure all the206assignments so they build on each other. For anyonewho has had very little experience it gives them somepositive feedback. 9-2(44)These examples also illustrate how the teachers' training,their culture, and remnants of the old curriculum guideinfluenced the content of the coeducational home economicsand technical studies program.As well as planning their own work on their own, theteachers were required to prepare lesson plans forsubstitute teachers. In talking to me about how she mightchange her program to deal with the dominant boys in herclassroom, Carol's comment gives some sense of the tensionsand constraints that preparing for a substitute teachercreated:Carol: I'm wondering if I should talk aboutcommunication and put-downs right at thebeginning...but, I don't want to re-order my book.I've written it all into my book and there are two daysthat have to be taught by a substitute - and goodthings for a substitute fall on those two days. So, Ijust don't want to put it in there and not think aboutthe days that have to be taught by a substitute. Ihave to think about those two days. But, maybe I canchange the order anyway without sort of disruptingthose two days that have to be taught by a substitute.5-27(41)Completing her day-book and planning ahead for two dayswhere someone else would teach her class, clearly causedCarol anxiety. This example highlights a tension betweenCarol's progressive views about gender equity and theorganization of teaching as work.Because the teachers worked in isolation on curriculumplanning, they were not always sure about what was being207covered in the program as a whole. Technical studiesteachers were less certain than home economics teachersabout what was covered in their area. For example, Stevesaid:I'm not sure what he does [in drafting andgraphics]....In graphics they get into cutting, pastingand gluing a lot of things. They also do photography.I'm not sure if they do that in Grade 8, though.7-11(23)But home economics teachers knew little about thetechnical studies curriculum, and technical studies teachersknew little about what went on in home economics. Homeeconomics teachers told me:Janet: I know what Steve does in woodwork because I seethe little hot-plates with the tile in the middle. Didhe do that? [No]. So he changes the things they make.I don't know what they do in electronics. In graphics- I'm not exactly sure what they do there either.1-3(52)Mary: I don't know what they do, really. They do theseanimated pictures and things. Oh, and some drawings,I've seen a few....They do something with lights,something like that. Is it a crystal set or something?That's about all I know. 3-23(34)Carol: I only know what the home ec' people do....Weeach do our own little thing in our own little waywithout any discussion about it....I'm so isolated. Asa teacher you're so isolated, you really don't knowwhat goes on in other courses. 5-2(28)Technical studies teachers said:Steve: I don't know a lot about family management....Idon't know how far they dwell into the family itself.Foods, I've no idea. I mean, obviously, they learn howto read a menu - work from a menu. Clothing isprobably similar to woodwork - where you start with abolt, cut it, and join it together. 7-10(13)Peter: I know very little about what goes on in homeeconomics. I saw one of their notebooks on what they208do in family management, and it's quite a differentapproach. They're not making anything, which isusually what you do in these kinds of courses. 9-3(51)The teachers learned about each other's areas throughstudents. Time constraints precluded their getting togetherto talk about their work.Nevertheless, some of the teachers were concerned aboutthe program as a whole. For example, Peter said:I can remember when I was in Grade 8 or 9. We made alittle square board with two lights that went on andoff, and it was called a 'winky dink.' That's what itwas called. You were going to make a 'winky dink.'All it was was two lights that went on and off and itwas kind of boring. So what happened - it became thelittle round 'Happy Face.'^There's a real problemwith any of these courses - you see it happening inhome economics as well - projects get in there that fitthe bill and never change for years. I think about thekite - can't you see them stacked up at home - three orfour brothers have made them. 10-12(25)But Steve had a different point of view:Steve: You know we make the duck and then the pencilbox. I hope that down the line they still have thatwhen they're in Grade 11 or 12. That's the hope I havefor them. Instead of them taking it home and neverseeing it again....Maybe down the line, half the kidsin the school will have one of those pencil boxes - sothat helps a little [with enrolment]. But I try tochange it every time - a little different sizing,different wood or something, not all classes are thesame. It's not the same, there's always a littledifference. 8-10(1)As one would expect, the teachers had different opinionsabout the program, but they kept their thoughts tothemselves.Teachers talked about the lack of opportunity for jointcurriculum planning:209Mary: I guess we should all sit down and talk about ouroutlines....When there's a professional day we couldsort of put an hour aside and do that, or meet at lunchhour. 3-23(38)Carol: We could use a lot more interaction time than weget, but there's not much time for interaction in thehigh school. 5-2(28)Peter: I can't go looking because we only have oneblock of Grade 8s. So I don't have a spare when I cango watch them....We only get together about once a yearto discuss how we are going to fill out mark books.That's about it. 9-3(55)Insufficient time during the school day to meet as a group,clearly constrained the teachers' practice. Through theseparate organization of their own work, the teacherscontributed to the gendered division of labour.Intensification of Teachers' WorkInclusion of girls and boys in home economics andtechnical studies did not result in the hiring of moreteachers, or more classroom periods per week being given toeach area. Consequently, over a school year, each teacherwas responsible for twice as many students as in theprevious single-sex program. And students spent only half aschool year in each area, compared with the previousarrangement of a full school year in either home economicsor technical studies. In other words, for teachers thecoeducational program meant twice as many students and halfas much time as in the previous program.As a result, the Grade 8 home economics and technicalstudies classrooms were extremely busy places. Teachers210attempted to complete as many projects as possible in ashort time frame, and they struggled to keep many studentsworking together so that speedier students were occupied,while slower students were not too far behind. Students andteachers were continually in motion, moving from small groupto large group, and from one piece of equipment to another.Projects were lost, supplies ran short, equipment broke downand required on the spot repair, there were frequentinterruptions at the classroom door, and always there wasthe pressure of completing projects on time before studentseither left for the day or moved to the next section of theprogram.Of all the constraints on their practice, teacherstalked most about a lack of time to get to know students orto devote to gender issues. The teachers' commentshighlight the conditions of teachers' work as well as theirdifferent pedagogical approaches.For example, most of the teachers said that they didnot have time to get to know the students' names. Carol wasthe only teacher who made a point of getting to know names:A lot of teachers take attendance from a seating planso there is no need to learn their names. That seat isblank so that person is absent. I think that a seatingplan does more harm than good....In 16 hours I thinkthere is no excuse for riot knowing their names.6-7(34)But she also said:Maybe in family management you have to respond to yourclass in a way that that you don't respond in any otherclass. Maybe in family management we're responsive to211the kids like we should be in every other class. Butyou don't really have much time to be responsive to thekids. 5-28(38)Other teachers found it difficult to get to know students:Mary: I didn't get to know them. You don't. Ihonestly don't even get to know their names....I thinkI do better in the fall than I do in the summer, I meanthey just seem to come and go....I've got the list, theseating plan. I just sort of go by that...maybe Ishould have, but I don't seem to have the energy, but Idon't even know if I would then. Because you're sobusy, just moving around to correct them, to do a fewmarks for them. 3-17(26)Steve: By the end of the year, I mean, the first kids -I've completely forgotten about them. They say 'Hi Mr[name of teacher].' I don't even know who that is.You see, we see ever so many Grade 8s and you only seethem for a few hours. I know in family management theygo round in a circle and say their names. It's adifferent set up here. I don't have time for that. Wehave so many hours and I want to get as much done aspossible. 7-14(49)Teachers deal with approximately 150 Grade 8 students overthe course of the year and this is only one of five classesfor them. Despite this, Carol learned her students' names,Mary focused on collecting enough information about studentsto evaluate them, and Steve was anxious to complete as manyprojects as possible.Peter, a new teacher, was concerned about classroommanagement:I never want [students] to know that I don't know theirnames. Because as soon as kids know that you don'tknow who they are they will screw around....You sort ofhave to make them think that you know what they aredoing all the time even though you don't. Becausethere is no possible way, but you have to make themthink that you do. 10-2(8)212For Peter, being in control was important. Not wanting toshow weakness by asking a student her or his name had acyclical effect and ultimately prevented him from getting toknow the students' names.While knowing students' names does not in itself leadto improved questioning techniques (boys still dominatedCarol's question-and-answer sessions), not knowing names isan indication of the teachers' lack of involvement andknowledge about the social patterns of their classrooms.Without such knowledge it is difficult for them to interveneeffectively to provide an equitable classroom environment.As well, the teachers explained their responses to boys'sexist, racist, and homophobic talk in relation toinsufficient time and busy classrooms:Carol: I don't know how to stop them from doing allthose put-downs. I've only got 18 hours with them.How am I going to stop them from putting other peopledown right away? 5-20(20)Janet: I don't pick up on any of what they aresaying....You don't have time, or bother to listen....Iam too busy with other things....You see I don't havetime to observe all those things. 2-1(7)Jim: I guess I ignore a lot of things, because of time.11-9(42)Peter: A lot of the things I read in here I've neverheard and sometimes when there is a rabble of thingsgoing on it's very difficult to distinguish where itcame from. 10-5(46)Clearly, teachers were busy and the content of boys' talkwas not a priority issue for them.213The technical studies teachers also said that there wastoo much going on in their classrooms for them to noticeboys' domination of girls' work:Steve: I mean I don't even know what they are doinglots of the time, you know. I'm just thinking threesteps ahead of them, to begin with. When I explainsomething or set them up to go, I make sure they aredoing it, then I'm off getting something else ready forthem. I don't see [boys doing girls' work]. I want tolet them get it done, you know, and then go on to thenext step. 8-8(25)Peter: When Jay took control in there - as long as thestuff was coming out of the dark-room I didn'tinterfere. Because at that point in the class therewere so many things going on and if they wanted to dothat, it was fine. In some groups no-one will do that.I have to help them all of the time. If they willteach each other how to do it - great. I remember Jayjust lording it over everyone in there. 10-7(40)Jim argued that he encouraged students to help each other:Jim: To me it's really important that...they go to eachother....I think it's important that they get together.....They have to learn to cooperate and to work withcolleagues and with their own friends. 11-9(24)But he was not aware of the gender dynamics involved:Jim: I asked a boy to help a girl. I didn'tconsciously work that out. I tried to do it as quicklyas I could. This one had finished and this one hadn't.I wasn't consciously trying to put girls with boys. Itwas luck of the draw so to speak. 11-16(35)As well, Steve told me that he was not aware of helping or"doing" for girls more than boys:If they wait long enough, to speed it up, I'll do itfor them. I don't know if it's better for them or notbetter for them. They're not doing it themselves, buta lot of it is for my own benefit too - just to keepeverybody together. 7-6(45)....I just look over there and if I see they are reallygoing slow, I'd go over and help them out with it. Alot of times they will say "Will you do it for me?"214Okay, I don't mind. I mean it's no decision on mypart. The decision is to keep them going, keep them upwith the rest of the kids. That is the only reason Ido it. I don't even notice if it's a boy or a girl orwho I'm doing it for. 7-7(7)The teachers' comments show how the daily routines ofteaching, control so much of what happens in classrooms. Itwas clear that keeping students going, so they could finishprojects on time, took priority over concerns about genderrelations in classrooms.Nevertheless, Carol and Peter began to think about waysof dealing with social relations of the classroom. Carolfocused on her own education:Nobody taught us how to teach the social skills....Ineed to know the social skills required for cooperativelearning....I don't know how to do it yet....We have toteach kids how to cooperate and to love one another andto care for one another. I need to know how to dothat. 6-8(19)Peter began to think about ways of dealing with racismin his classroom:How are you going to cultivate in a class that doesn'tdeal directly with social issues. If you are in aclass you could spend an hour talking about racistcomments and how they make you feel, but we don't havetime to do that. I guess we could slip it in. Insteadof say making them do a magazine cover, I could makethem design an anti-racist poster, things like that.But to actually deal with it directly, it's hard to do.Because it's not the mandate of the class. It's not inthe curriculum - well, there isn't a curriculum anyway- but it's not part of the curriculum. Socialdevelopment is important, but with all the other thingswe have to do it's not a priority. 10-5(41)By suggesting that he might include projects with a socialmeaning in his course, Peter reflected upon and informed his215own practice as he spoke. At the same time, his ideas wereconstrained by the social conditions of teaching.Subject Enrolment With a broadening of the school's educational programin recent years to include fine arts, drama, physicaleducation, and a variety of language and vocational courses,there was an increasing number of elective subjects.Consequently, teachers of elective subjects competed forstudents and resources. Too few students would meancancellation of a course or a program, and teachers' jobswould be in jeopardy. As a result, the home economics andtechnical studies teachers were cautious about change at thejunior high school level in case it had a detrimental effecton senior high school enrolment.Concerns about student recruitment were most evidentwhen I talked with the teachers about the possibility ofproviding activities other than hand and power-tool skillsin the Grade 8 program. When I asked whether activitiessuch as reading, writing, discussion, and research skillsmight be included in the curriculum, the teachers respondednegatively. For example:Peter: I think they should be doing courses. That'swhy the kids take them. They get enough thinkingcourses. They want to do things. 9-4(11)Mary: I don't think they would enjoy it as much. Idon't see them doing it. Do you find many kids goingthrough to seniors if they get so much theory?...No,that's just hopeless. When I've given my seniors otherthings to do they don't do any more than just pick a216recipe and try it, nothing more. I mean you do as muchas you can and then you just sort of give up. The onesthat are my top students are picking more difficultthings and they know what they are doing, but you can'tteach to them when there's all these slow ones. 4-7(2)Steve: I'd loose the kids. They're here to makesomething, they're here to take something home. If Icame in and did theory and stuff like that, I'd losethem in a hurry. First of all they'd sit looking at me- 'Why can't we do this? Why can't we do that? ^Theywould drop out in a hurry. They'll let their friendsknow 'Oh we do nothing but book work'....I would turnit down. I'd say 'No' right away....They are here tomake - they have ideas of what they want to make, so Ijust have to go with that. 8-24(19)The teachers feared that curriculum change would have anegative effect on high school enrolment. They justifiedtheir arguments by constructing the students as "practical"and not interested in "theory."Nevertheless, Steve spoke positively about using otherapproaches. He said:You would have to have excellent materials. You haveto have kids that are willing to put in a little effortand I don't get those kinds of kids, you know, to doresearch and stuff like that. It would be wonderful ifthey could. I mean it gives them a background,something to work on....If I could have them for alonger period you might be able to do that. 8-24(27)Given that all Grade 8 students were enroled in thetechnical studies program, Steve's view about "not gettingthose kinds of kids" probably reflects the location of theschool in a lower socio-economic area of the city. Again,Steve referred to lack of time as a constraint on hispractice.217Nevertheless, in talking about how to make curriculummore attuned to students' diverse interests and experiences,teachers began to question their own practice:Carol: When I make my plan for the next group I look atwhat I did with the first group....But, once I had oneclass, I thought I could just keep doing it over andover again throughout the year. Now, I'm not so surethat I can. 5-28(16)Mary: I just teach the same old way. My it's dull whenyou stop to think about it. 4-11(6)Peter: So, there's culturally adapting projects,sexually adapting projects, and then trying toincorporate all the things we are trying to teach themand are supposed to teach them, so it's tricky. Also,something that will catch their imagination and makethem want to do it! 10-13(31)Responsibilities In addition to actual classroom teaching, teachers hadspecified responsibilities. Obligations relevant to thisstudy were student evaluation and safety.Evaluation.A school-wide reporting system required teachers tosubmit marks to home-room teachers at the middle and end ofeach school term. The reporting procedures createddifficulties for the teachers because a) students spent onlya short time with each teacher, and b) the school reportingperiod did not coincide with the change of students from onesection to another in the coeducational home economics andtechnical studies program.218Janet and Mary talked to me about their frustrationswith the reporting procedures:Janet: We do have to sit down and talk about theevaluation system because the way it is being doneright now is not terribly satisfactory. We're all alittle concerned about that....The last mark [on thereport card] was a mark for only the first section.The next mark will be for sections two and threetogether, or something. I don't know. We haven'tsorted it out. They'll know what they got in here on apiece of paper, but it won't be on the report card. Itmay be a combination of woodwork and this. I thinkthat is the way we'll do it....I talked with thecomputer guy about setting up six different marks forthis, but he didn't seem to think it was possible.1-5(10)Mary: It's frustrating...because 15 hours isn't muchtime. You're only just starting to get to know themand they're gone. And I hate trying to markthem...because it's really not fair. I think we allfeel that way. We'd rather have a pass or fail. Idon't know why we can't....I'm sure if you didn't haveto go around and do that constant marking...it could bemore relaxed. 3-20(42)The teachers' comments illustrate how they had limitedcontrol of their workplace. They were forced into aschool-wide evaluation system that did not fit theorganization of the Grade 8 home economics and technicalstudies program, yet they felt powerless to change thestructure.Safety.Students in home economics and technical studies workedwith equipment that was potentially dangerous. Technicalstudies teachers were particularly concerned about physicalsafety in their classrooms:219Steve: What bothers me is this - how safe they act.That they apply the safety rules....Things that botherme are safety things...pushing, shoving, physicalthings. I mean that's the only thing I worry about. Iworry about that all the time. 7-15(28)The teachers' concern about safety had implications forgender relations in their classrooms. Being surrounded bypotentially life threatening machinery, the teachers told methat they listened to the noise of machinery (to make sureit was being used correctly) rather than students' talk.The teachers' comments illustrate how schoolorganization limited the teachers' responses to genderinequality in their classrooms. The isolation andintensification of teachers' work, threats of subjecterosion, and additional responsibilities placed inordinatedemands on teachers. As a result, the teachers had littletime or energy to get to know students, to attend to genderrelations in classrooms, or to reflect on their practice.The Dilemmas of PedagogyHaving teachers analyze the observation transcriptsprovided a forum for talking about classroom pedagogy.Teachers interpreted life in their classrooms through anideology of liberalism and individualism, rather than interms of social constraints of power, dominance, andexclusion. This raises questions about the possibility forpedagogical change given the teachers' ideologies and theconstraints on their work. I point to a classroom pedagogythat allows for curriculum as a shared project among and220between teachers and students - one that promotes andencompasses collegiality, cooperation, and respect fordiversity.Issues of GenderTeachers tended to explain gender relations of theclassroom as biologically or psychologically based. Forexample, Janet and Steve explained girls' silence in termsof girls' size:Janet: I try to make a conscious effort to look allaround the class, but I think I neglect the kids rightin front of me. That's what I do - I look to the rightand I look to the left....This table of little girlsright here [in front] are so quiet. I have toconsciously bring myself to this table to talk to them.Otherwise I don't think I ever speak to them. Theyhardly ever ask a question. 1-3(29)Steve: The problem is a lot of the aggressive onesstand right in front of you and the little girls in theback can't see anyways, so they're standing theretalking to their friends. So that's the biggestproblem because all of my teaching is done that way -'Okay gather round - let's do this.' 7-16(47)Teachers also explained girls' silence in terms ofindividual psychological traits:Peter: Some of the girls weren't confident enough orsomething, to put out the answer without being askeddirectly. So I could see some inequality there. Ishould ask more girls questions....I just ask questionsto the class because I don't know their names. When Iknow I am going to ask some questions, I should justhave a scrap of paper with their names on and just sayso-and-so, and so-and-so...ask kids that I know won'tanswer. 10-2(8)Janet: I certainly try not to give boys more attentionthan the girls. I think sometimes I do. Maybe it'strying to compensate - to make sure they are with memore than the girls. But they also seem to demand moreattention than the girls...the girls work quietly221whereas the boys are always wanting help. They'relouder than the girls so they get more attention....Iwas aware that I was doing it...but obviously youinteract with the kids that need you or that come toyou. 1-2(16)Carol: I focused on the rowdy boys....I wasn't so awareof the quieter boys...and I didn't interact too muchwith the girls...because they wouldn't say anything.Even if I ask them right out they won't sayanything....The boys call out the answers and I don'tstop them....I like the class to be really sort ofcasual and it's very hard for me to know how to make itcasual and comfortable and still structure thequestioning techniques. 5-19(9)While teachers' struggled to find ways to resolve theproblem of male dominance in classrooms, Carol's solution toask the girls "right out" and Peter's solution to ask "kidsthat won't answer," do not deal with the problem of silencein the classroom.Steve was less aware of male dominance in theclassroom. He said:I don't know. I'm oblivious. I don't see [boys'dominance]. I won't look for it. If I was to look forit I might see something, but I don't look for it.7-12(50)When we met a year later, however, Steve told me aboutincidents in his classroom that he had done something about.He told me that he had reported a boy to the principal forsexually harassing a girl in his classroom. Also, inresponse to my comment about the dominant boys beingmisogynists and "nice kids" at the same time, Steve said:Marc Lepine [the name of the man who murdered 14 womenat the University of Montreal] may have been a 'nicekid' in somebody's classroom too. 12-1(5)222Steve's response highlights the possibilities forpedagogical transformation when teachers become aware ofgender issues and begin to question the taken for grantedexperiences of everyday life in classrooms.Similarly, the teachers explained boys' dominance ofmachines and equipment in terms of psychologicaldevelopment. Teachers said:Janet: I guess [the less powerful boys] have to learnto fend for themselves. I guess that is all part ofthe growing up process - speaking up for yourself.2-8(25)....[about girls in technical studies] Was it not justbecause the boys were more anxious to get to themachines and move faster, and the girls sort of doddledalong. If one of the girls was really keen she couldhave been at the front line too. 2-8(44)Steve: Well, I guess the girls are not as aggressive asthe boys in that situation. But they eventually get toit....The boys come in here and think 'Well this is theshop. It's the boys' area.' 7-6(45)....They're strong academic kids, they're first,they're wanting to do something. If they have nothingto do they'll ask for something to do. [Does that meanthat the girls are not strong academically?] No. No.It's just because there's 24 kids and somebody's got tobe first and somebody's got to be last. 8-5(17)Steve's last comment contradicted his earlier assertion thatthe students were not strong academically (See p. 216). Hiscomment also suggests that boys' dominance is coincidental -it happens by chance.Steve talked about ways he might improve the sharing ofresources in the classroom. He said:I guess I could put some effort into making sure thatwe rotate things around - who was first, now goes last,that type of thing. I never really thought about223it....Sometimes, I'll say 'Ladies first' and the boysget upset....I should have a role in it, I guess. Idon't know, maybe I should. I don't know if I wantto....I'm not a chauvinist at all, but I really don'tknow. I never even thought about it really. 8-5(23)Steve's comment "I never really thought about it" was echoedby other teachers. Having the opportunity to engage inconversation about what happens in the privacy of their ownclassrooms was a new experience for most of the teachers.In addition, the teachers explained boys' sexist,racist, and homophobic talk in biological and psychologicaldiscourse:Janet: Stuart was a bit of a baby. He needs attention.I was beginning to ignore him from time to time.2-1(34)....Boys always have to show off - they are alwaysperforming, competing and performing.... They are moreinvolved with sex. But, isn't that to be expected withthat age boy? 2-3(10)Carol: Maybe boys are having a hard time dealing withtheir puberty...the girls seem to be more accepting ofthemselves. 5-15(13)Steve: I suppose there are age-group problems or peerproblems between boys and girls, and girls like boys,and boys like girls, in certain ages. 7-11(46)Peter: Some of the boys when they are really immaturecan be quite annoying. The girls seem to be quiteahead of the boys at that age, developmentally. So youdon't get as many immature girls at that age, but youwill still get the odd boy who is right out to lunch.I had a couple in the last group - some of them havetheir motor wound up and they can't slow it down.9-9(5)The teachers' comments suggest that the behaviour was not tobe taken seriously; it was something that the boys wouldgrow out of in time.224In talking about how she responded to boys' talk, Janetdescribed her approach as follows:Janet [in response to boys' comments about pictures ofwomen's bodies in fashion magazines]: It's the way boyslike to talk. Let them react that way - it doesn't - Ijust ignore it....The kids are bright enough to knowthat it isn't real. The fashion magazines and thosevideos don't interest them for long because it's notclothing they can identify with. I don't think thatit's a damaging thing...at least don't take it tooseriously - I don't. 1-10(47)Janet does not see students as gullible. But, when studentsdo react in the way the media intends, she believes thatboys' responses should not be taken seriously. Janetqualified her comment. She went on to say:Well, if I hear something really nasty I wouldcertainly take them aside or something. I tend tohumour that kind of situation and make light ofit...not to make a big deal of it because that isn'tgood sometimes....I kind of do diversionary tacticslike bring the conversation back to something we aredoing here. I don't usually do a direct response. IfI hear anything I don't usually respond directly with avalue judgement on it. Not that I hear much. 2-6(45)Janet talked about using "humour" in response to misogyny inthe classroom. This view echoes girls' and boys' responsesto boys' sexist talk as "having fun" and merely "playing."Again, offensive behaviour was not to be taken seriously.Janet's comment about not responding to boys' comments "witha value judgement" reflects the dominant discourse in schoolabout value neutrality. By her lack of intervention, Janetexpressed a value judgement, but she did not see it as such.Peter said that he might have responded to boys' talkin ways that I missed:225According to this I didn't react, but reaction can be alook it doesn't have to be verbal. I might haveresponded, but it isn't written down here. 10-5(46)There are indirect, subtle interactions that take placebetween teachers and students that an observer might miss.All the same, a teachers' verbal silence might suggest toother students, who also miss the nuances, that the teachercondones a particular kind of behaviour.The teachers' arguments indirectly supportedtraditional gender relations by explaining students'practices in psychological and physiological discourserather than in terms of men's dominance over women and othermen. Viewing dominance as a social construction providesmore possibilities for social change.Issues of Culture Gender relations intersected with other dimensions ofstudents' lives, especially ethnicity. The teachersinterpreted the social relations of the classroom through aeurocentric world view.For example, Steve was aware of the segregation ofNative Canadian students. He said:I think the biggest problem is with the Natives....Imean they stand alone, by themselves, and most of themdo that....You can see that with Anthony....The wholetime he was basically a loner. You can't force them.I mean, I could say Okay, you have to have a partner,so you go sit there.' But he would still be alone,whether he's with that partner or not....I had anotherIndian girl last year in Grade 12. She never finishedthe year. She was alone, too. She was by herself.That's what she wanted, obviously. 7-13(42)226Steve described racism as an individual problem and as acondition of social life in the classroom, not as somethingthat could be changed.Teachers also explained gender relations of theclassroom from a eurocentric perspective. Teachers said:Carol: Maybe I'm talking in opposition to girls'Chinese tradition and that may make life very difficultfor them....I think I am talking about things that arevery foreign to them.... Because boys are Chinese Ithink they probably don't want to do it because it maybe in conflict with the messages they may be getting athome. 5-12(2)Mary: When they are still young children they don'twork well together...when students are more advancedsexually then I don't think you have that....A lot ofthose Chinese girls haven't gone through pubertyyet....They must mature later. 3-6(44)Steve: A lot has to do with culture I suppose. TheEast Indians, for example, are very stereotyping withtheir families. The girls are girls and they have topull the line and they have to be home a certain timeand the boys - hey, he's a boy, let him go and do whathe wants, you know, that type of thing. I've seen thathappen. 7-13(2)Jim: I think culture has something to do with it. Alot of Chinese - from what I understand - I don't know- there is this separation. It's not necessarily thething to do. There are other cultures that simplyfrown upon it apparently - women working in asupposedly male dominated field. 11-5(48)The teachers, all of whom were white and of Anglo-Saxonorigins, were trying to be sensitive to what they perceivedto be characteristics of Asian students. The origin ofthese perceptions requires further study.The teachers' eurocentric world view was also evidentwhen I raised questions about the compatibility between the227curriculum and students' various cultural backgrounds. Marysaid:Well, I do fried rice and they all love that. So itdoes bring it in. 4-4(26)This comment contrasts with a student's criticism of Mary'sversion of fried rice as a "Western" version of the dish(See p. 111). Mary further commented on her adaptation tostudents' experiences:When I first came here I used to get them to planbreakfasts. I nearly went mad because they would havechicken wings for breakfasts, and you can't start tocriticize it. You realize their breakfasts aren't astandard breakfast....So I just gave up on themplanning meals because I just thought their conceptsare so different than ours. Like the Native and theHindus have potatoes and rice in the same meal. Now wewouldn't, but I don't think I can criticize thembecause that is their ethnic background. So I havestayed away from it. I used to do it more and then Ijust thought I can't start to criticize it. I did saythat I thought that one starchy food in each meal wasenough and leave it at that. As far as planning andcosting out meals, it is just hopeless now. 4-7(29)Mary was trying to adapt to students, but her views werefiltered through white, middle-class expectations andskills. Mary went on to say:One year in Grade 8 I decided to let them all makesomething special. I said 'I'd like you to do it athome and if there is any cost I want you to tell mewhat the cost is.' So they all brought differentthings. One girl brought chicken feet, which is agreat delicacy....I remember one girl was Native Indianand she said something about bannock. I said 'Whoknows anything about bannock?' and they didn't. So Isaid 'See you have something to offer too.' 4-4(26)Peter realized he was similarly limited by his owncultural knowledge. He said that he had asked seniorstudents to draw twentieth century icons. A couple of228students had drawn a traditional Chinese painting. Peterdescribed the work to me:Look at this. This is what a couple of Grade 11 boysdid. These are culturally specific. I asked the boyto tell me what his drawing meant. He looked at me asif I was an idiot. He said 'Well, the flower came andthen the bird came.' It was as if he was saying to me'Where have you been all of your life?' So this is anexample where they have drawn something reallyimportant to them. 10-11(44)Peter noted, however, that students might have moreconservative views:I think I might try some new things with Grade 8 nextyear, change things around. One thing that is reallyfunny with Grade 8s - they all know what they are goingto do. They have all heard from their friends. Soit's very difficult to change anything because theyhave this set of expectations what they are going todo.^10-12(1)Steve talked about his own inadequacies and the constraintson his practice:Well, I guess it could be [more related to theircultural experiences]. I've never thought about itlike that. I do like the Chinese art, that type ofthing. But the Chinese woodworking is a little toocomplicated for me. They do very fine woodworking andsculpturing and stuff like that. It's alright, butit's a little too fine for me and I couldn't do iteither. But I guess we could do that. I never thoughtabout that...though it has to be able to be massproduced. It cannot be individualistic in that itcannot be limited to one machine. Otherwise all of asudden there's just that one thing that they can do andit backs everything up. 8-21(18)Steve added to the complexity of the issue when he describeda culturally specific, curriculum project that failed:Two years ago we had an alternate program called'Spirit Rising.' We had Bill Reid [a prominent Haidaartist who has designed among other things, the majorsculpture at the Canadian Embassy in Washington] comefor four Fridays in a row. But the attendance was229poor. The kids would come or they wouldn't come. TheNative students didn't care. Other people would havegiven their eye teeth for that sort of thing. 8-23(20)The examples illustrate not only potential factors thatlimit student input into curriculum, but also how teachersare reluctant to relinquish control of the curriculum.Their view that knowledge lies primarily within the teacherlimited the possibility for student input.The teachers talked with enthusiasm about curriculumprojects that had involved student input, but they alsopointed out many ways in which they could not adapt, giventheir own knowledge and the constraints of the classroom.Teachers were committed to gender equity and were interestedin exploring ways of changing the curriculum, but turningideas into practice was more problematic.SummaryAnalyzing the observation protocols provided anopportunity for teachers to reflect on their practice. Theteachers' comments revealed their views of gender equity,the conditions of their work, and their assumptions aboutteaching and learning.The teachers' work was shaped by particular views ofgender equity. It was important to teachers that girls andboys had equal access to domestic and technical work. Aswell, technical studies teachers worked within the ideologyof equal ("same") treatment. They believed in treatingstudents "the same," but at the same time they acknowledged230differences in students' abilities. For home economicsteachers gender equity meant providing remediation for boys,according to the teachers' perceptions of boys' needs in anon-traditional area. None of the teachers viewed genderequity as valuing and respecting differences among boys andgirls, nor as challenging male domination.The teachers' responses to gender differences and tothe social relations of the classroom must be understood inrelation to the conditions of their work. The teachers wereextremely busy people, and the coeducational program madetheir work even more hectic. They worked hard to provide avariety of experiences for students in domestic andtechnical work. The teachers made an effort to get alongwith students, with each other, and with other teachers inthe school. Each teacher was responsible for orderingsupplies and repairing equipment, and for developing her orhis own curriculum. And some of the teachers were involvedwith professional activities outside of their teachingresponsibilities.As well, over the school year each teacher met almost150 Grade 8 students, in addition to those they dealt within other areas of their teaching load. Working with groupsof approximately 24 students in one-hour time slots,teachers hardly had time or energy to get to know students'names let alone to develop sensitivity to the genderrelations of the classroom. Teachers were further231constrained by concerns about declining subject enrolment,by having to conform to a school-wide reporting system, andby having little opportunity for joint curriculum planningand discussion.Ideological barriers also prevented teachers fromexploring gender equity beyond issues of access. The viewthat knowledge lies primarily with the teacher resulted in awhite, middle-class curriculum based in Western culture, forthis was the teachers' own background knowledge. It alsolimited any possibility for student input. As well, theteachers' traditional, product-oriented approach to homeeconomics and technical studies took priority over concernsabout the division of labour, and inhibited their ability toexplore other ways of teaching about domestic and technicalwork.In addition, the teachers constructed students'behaviour in biological and psychological discourse andthrough culture rather than in terms of power, dominance andexclusion. The teachers' discourse had the effect ofexcusing, hiding, or trivializing the offensive behaviour ofthe dominant boys. An ideology of liberalism andindividualism based in Western culture underplays the socialconstruction of behaviour, and overplays the role of theindividual.Nevertheless, the teachers talked about what they mightdo differently. Although their ideas and their practice232were tempered by the social conditions of their work,teachers talked about how they might deal more effectivelywith the gender relations in their classrooms, how theymight work collectively with other teachers, how they mightincorporate diversity among students, and have more studentinput in the curriculum. The observation protocols provideda catalyst for re-thinking classroom practice. Bringing thevoices of students to teachers through research openedpossibilities for pedagogical change.233CHAPTER 7THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER IN COEDUCATIONAL HOMEECONOMICS AND TECHNICAL STUDIES CLASSROOMSIn attempting to understand how gender relations areorganized in coeducational home economics and technicalstudies classrooms, I have described students' responses tothe program, the organization of social relations amongstudents, and teachers' interpretations of life in theirclassrooms. In this chapter I will try to make sense ofwhat is happening by relating my findings to other studies,and theorize a little on how the data should be interpreted.To better understand gender relations it is necessaryto think of gender not in terms of individual practices, butas collective, institutionalized social practices thatreinforce the domination of men over women, and over men whodo not support such practices. There is a sense of"custom," "routine," and "repetition," culminating in"cyclical rather than divergent practices" (Connell, 1987,p. 139). Feminist theorists have named the concept of aninstitutionalized system of gender inequality, "patriarchy,"and they have identified the structures that keep apatriarchal system in place.Some feminist theorists privilege one feature ofpatriarchy over another, while others consider a variety ofpatriarchal structures. For example, radical feministsfocus on sexuality (Rich, 1986) and violence (Brownmiller,2341976); socialist feminists focus on housework (Oakley, 1974)and waged work (Hartman, 1979). Sylvia Walby (1990) arguesthat there are six key, interacting, patriarchal structures:paid work, housework, sexuality, culture, violence, and thestate. But Walby warns that "gender relations are notstatic," and the idea of patriarchy "does not necessarilygive rise to fixed ahistoric analysis" (p. 200).The work of sociologist Robert Connell (1987) also isuseful in understanding patriarchal structures. Connellargues that "labour," "power," and "the patterning ofobject-choice, desire and desirability and the production ofheterosexuality and homosexuality" are "the major structuresof the field of gender relations" (p. 97). He says they"are discoverable in current gender research and sexualpolitics...and account for most of the structural dynamicscurrently understood" (p. 97).I shall examine the patriarchal structures of divisionof labour, violence, and sexuality. These were the featuresof patriarchy most evident in the present study. The threeare related, but are useful devices for organizing thischapter. In so doing, I will attempt to bring togetherarguments about patriarchal structures with discourseanalysis. I will show how the division of labour, violence,and sexuality are reflected in, and produced by, students'and teachers' gender ideologies and classroom practices, andthrough discourse.235Discourse analysis looks at the relationship betweenpower and language. In writing about discourse analysis,Black and Coward (In Lees, 1986) write: "It is to insistthat language has a material existence. It defines ourpossibilities and limitations, it constitutes oursubjectivities" (p. 158). This means looking beyond what issaid in terms of providing explanations of practices, tolooking at how the discourse itself produces patriarchalstructures.In analyzing discourse, I rely mainly on the work ofSue Lees (1986) and Valerie Walkerdine (1990). Lees andWalkerdine illustrate how conventional discourse is aninstrument of patriarchal domination, producing traditionalgender relations. Lees' work is helpful in understandinghow discourse around sexuality exerts control overadolescent girls. Walkerdine's work is useful inunderstanding how students hold various positions of powerin relation to their positions in the discourse.Lynne Segal (1990) argues that a combination ofdiscourse analysis and exploration of patriarchal structuresis an appropriate strategy. She writes:I would argue for the importance of a form of realismwherein we must analyse the structures which generatethe discourses and practices of phallocentrism and malepower - while accepting that these structures cannot beidentified independently of the way they manifestthemselves in discourse....Once we ask what socialprocesses underlie gender relations andrepresentations, we must move toward a complexintegration of psychoanalytic accounts of familydynamics and unconscious motivations, on the one hand,236and sociological analysis of social structures,practices and relationships, on the other. (p. 94)Division of LabourSome feminist theorists argue that the sexual divisionof labour is the major patriarchal structure. Despitewomen's increased participation in waged work, women remainprimarily responsible for domestic work and child care.Since most men benefit from women's domestic labour, andbecause "women's work" is valued less than "men's work," thehousehold is seen as a site of women's oppression (Chafetz,1990). Further, women in heterosexual relationships,confined to the home, become reliant on men for economicsurvival. In her classic article, Heidi Hartman (1981)argues that a cycle is maintained when women try to gainaccess to waged work. They are denied access to higherwaged work due to their lack of skills and experience, andbecause men control organizations, including unions, anddeny women access to training and promotion.Black feminist, bell hooks (1984), however, provides anecessary correction to the views of white feminists. Sheargues that, for black women, the household is more likelyto be a site of refuge from the drudgery of the workavailable to women in a racist and sexist labour market.In talking about waged work, Walby (1990) distinguishesbetween strategies of segregation and exclusion. Walbyincludes the strategies of exclusion identified by Hartman237(1981), but she adds sexuality, violence, and the role ofthe state. In addition, Walby argues that while strategiesof exclusion prevent women's access to "men's" jobs, whenwomen do enter paid work, strategies of segregation separatewomen's work from men's work and devalue what women do.Walby argues that "the explanation of occupationalsegregation is critical to the explanation of genderinequality in paid work" (p. 57).Similarly, Connell describes the sexual division oflabour as not only "the allocation of particular kinds ofwork to particular categories of people" (p. 99), but also"the nature and organization of that work" (p. 102), and the"distribution of the products of work - that is, thedistribution of services and income" (p. 102). He arguesthat the "sexual division of labour" is "part of a largerpattern, a gender-structured system of production,consumption, and distribution" (p. 103).In this study the sexual division of labour wasmaintained through students' ideologies about "women's work"and "men's work," and through practices that exclude womenand men from non-traditional work. In addition, classroomdiscourse produced the division of labour by giving power tothose who possessed knowledge in domestic or technical work,and denying it to others.The students held traditional beliefs about who can dodomestic and technical work. Most students felt that girls238and women were better at domestic work than boys and men.Some girls talked about technical work being too dangerousand beyond their capabilities. Students said this eventhough both girls and boys were equally engaged in domesticand technical work in the classroom.But the students did not simply reproduce oppressivestructures. The students' beliefs about who can do domesticand technical work were tied to their gendered experiencesoutside of the classroom. Most girls came to the classroomwith more experiences than boys in domestic work; most boyshad more experiences than girls in technical work. Studentsalso were influenced by the division of labour in their ownfamilies and their own life experiences. For example, someof the girls I spoke with did not envision men doingdomestic work and child care, and did not trust men with thecare of children. My conversation with these girls remindsme of Jane Gaskell's (1992) comments about girls' careerchoices:They knew for their own good reasons what the world waslike, and their experience acted as a filter throughwhich any new message was tested, confirmed, rejected,challenged and reinterpreted. Changing their mindswould have meant changing the world they experienced,not simply convincing them of the desirability of a newset of ideals about equality of opportunity and of adifferent world. (p. 52)The students' responses show the power of daily experienceover what goes on in classrooms and the strength ofstudents' stereotyped notions about women and men.239As well, the reproduction of traditional genderrelations was not straightforward, or without contradiction.While the girls ridiculed or corrected other girls and boyswho did not do domestic work "correctly," they showedannoyance with each other for being too fastidious. Whilesome girls displayed skills in technical work, they feignedhelplessness and encouraged boys to do their technical workfor them. While the dominant boys chastised other boys whohad difficulty doing domestic work, they ridiculed thoseboys who showed exceptional skills in this area. Anddominant and less dominant boys worked hard at maintainingnotions of their competence and girls' incompetence intechnical work. The students' practices illustrate how theyactively produced the sexual division of labour.The teachers also were implicated in the sexualdivision of labour. While the coeducational home economicsand technical studies program was intended to break down thesexual division of labour, most of the teachers did notengage students in discussion about gender and social issuessurrounding domestic and technical work. The teachersassumed that having students do non-traditional work wassufficient to change students' stereotyped beliefs about whocan do and who should be doing domestic and technical work.As well, a lack of opportunity to reflect on theirpractice, as well as time constraints and the desire to keepstudents working at the same pace, forced teachers into240adopting teaching strategies that tended to reinforce genderinequality. By constantly correcting boys in the domesticsetting, a home economics teacher may have contributed tothe notion that boys cannot do domestic work. And by askingboys to help girls, by doing girls' work for them, by usingmale experiences to illustrate their teaching, and by notrelating to girls' gendered experiences in technical work,technical studies teachers may have contributed to thenotion that girls cannot do technical work and thattechnical studies is a male domain. Although the intentionwas to help students develop competence in domestic andtechnical work, these teaching strategies supported thedivision of labour.The gendered history of each subject area no doubtplayed a part in the sexual division of labour. In homeeconomics, sexual harassment distanced the dominant boysfrom the domestic nature of the course, from girls in theclass, and also from their teachers, because they werewomen. The girls, on the other hand, may have supported thehome economics teachers because they were women, andcomplied with domesticity because it has traditionally beenassociated with "women's work."In technical studies, the boys may have complied withtheir teachers because they were men, and with technicalwork because it has traditionally been associated with"men's work." Boys may have restricted girls' access to241equipment and machinery, not only to emphasize their ownskills in technical work but also to identify technical workwith men rather than women. In contrast, girls distancingthemselves from technical work may have given them power tochallenge their technical studies teachers. Ultimately,although there were contradictions, girls, boys, and theteachers complied with the division of labour and thesubordination of other forms of femininity or masculinitythat might challenge this patriarchal structure.The students' and teachers' complicity in the sexualdivision of labour ultimately tied them to what Kessler etal. (1985) and Connell (1987) describe as emphasizedfemininity and hegemonic masculinity. Emphasized femininityis defined around women's compliance with theirsubordination, and is necessary for the continuance of men'sdominance over women. Connell (1987), however, identifiesat least three levels of masculinities: hegemonicmasculinity, conservative masculinities, and subordinatedmasculinities. I would argue that hegemonic masculinity wasevident in the dominant boys' collective subordination ofgirls and women; less dominant boys and male teacherscomplied, and boys who did not were subordinated. Further,boys being domestic does not detract from hegemonicmasculinity. On the contrary, as Connell argues, such a mixillustrates the complexity of gender relations and is242necessary for the institutionalization of men's dominanceover women.From a psychoanalytic perspective, the students' andteachers' discursive practices can be understood as aninstance of what Walkerdine (1990) describes as thepower/knowledge couplet. From this reading of students' andteachers' discursive practices those who are privy to aparticular discourse wield power over others, and in sodoing construct the others' subjectivities.In a study of gender relations among nursery schoolchildren, Walkerdine (1990) found that girls were"constantly struggling with the boys to define their playand to redefine it into discursive practices in which they[could] be powerful" (p. 20). She observed a "multiplicityof contradictory positions of power and resistance" (p. 20).Walkerdine acknowledges, however, that girls do not "take upany position in any discourse" (p. 24). Walkerdine contendsthat "individuals are powerless or powerful depending uponwhich discursive practice they enter as subject" (p. 20).In the present study, girls were familiar with thelanguage of food and clothing. Unlike boys, the girls didnot need to ask "What's knead?" "What's press?" Thislanguage was already part of their experience. The girlswere able to use their knowledge to exert power when playingout domestic scenes, thereby constructing others aspowerless. Girls' power, however, had a double edge - it243constructed women as domestic and ultimately confined themto domesticity and economic dependency.The power/knowledge relationship was most apparent tome in technical studies. Because of my own genderedexperiences, I felt excluded from the discourse of technicalwork, particularly in electronics. I would argue that thegirls' comments about electronics as "boring" are likely anindication of their similar sense of exclusion fromtechnical work. The boys and teachers who were alreadyfamiliar with the language of technical work were able toexercise power in this area and in so doing constructedothers as powerless, thereby reinforcing women's exclusionfrom technical work.Thus, the sexual division of labour was not simplyreproduced in the classroom. Students and teachers activelyproduced traditional gender relations. Hegemony was notcomplete, however. Students and teachers had to constantlyreassert their positions, resulting in a complex combinationof accommodation, resistance, and contradiction. Inaddition, students' and teachers' discourse not onlyreflected traditional notions of femininity and masculinity,but also was mediated by their subjectivities as women andmen. Students and teachers held various positions of powerin relation to their positions in the discourse, furthercontributing to the division of labour.244ViolenceOnce accepted as an individual act of force oroppression, violence against women is now viewed by manyfeminist and social theorists as a patriarchal structure.When viewed as a continuum, violence against women manifestsitself in experiences ranging from intrusive staring toderogatory comments, sexual harassment, rape, incest,battery, and murder (Walby, 1990).Segal (1990) and Connell (1987) allow for differencesamong men in their complicity in violence against women.Lynne Segal says that attention should be given to exploringdifferent types of violent acts and different types ofviolent men. She writes: "Rather than ignoring thesedifferences, the endeavour to understand them seems to mecrucial to tackling the problems of violence and to providethe appropriate variety of solutions to prevent men fromresorting to them" (p. 245). Connell, however, argues thatindividual acts of force or oppression are "deeply embeddedin power inequalities and ideologies of male supremacy" (p.107). He says that we need to look beyond individual actsof oppression to "a structure of power, a set of socialrelations with some scope and permanence" (p. 107). I wouldargue that violence against women cuts across the societyand serves as a form of social control, though notnecessarily in the same way, over all women.245Of course, the sexist, racist, and homophobic practicesof the dominant boys in this study hardly compare with thecases of sexual harassment, brutality, and murder of womenand minorities that one reads about every day in Canadiannewspapers. Nevertheless, I would argue that the dominantboys' practices of correcting, interrupting, ridiculing, andharassing girls, less dominant boys, and woman teachers, andthe sexual objectification of women, derogatory commentsabout homosexuals, and physical violence or the threat ofit, promote violence against women and must be takenseriously. Further, I suggest that the dominant boys'practices are not acts of individual deviance. Rather, theyare an enforcement of a gendered social order, from whichall men benefit.But counter-hegemonic forces were also evident. First,all boys were not implicated to the same extent. Althoughsome of the less dominant boys complied with the dominantboys' behaviour, other less dominant boys withdrew insilence. This finding is an example of what Connell (1987)is talking about when he describes the "construction ofhierarchies of authority" (p. 109), within the majorcategories of gender. Connell says that gender-basedhierarchies among men are necessary for the subordination ofwomen.Second, although most often girls were silenced, afinding that agrees with the literature on girls' and246women's experiences in mixed sex groups (Lewis & Simon,1986; Rich, 1979; Spender, 1980, 1982), I would suggest thatgirls' silence is not necessarily an indication of theirsubordination. As Rich (1979) states, girls' separation, asa group, from boys may be a form of resistance topatriarchy. Also, girls may have been avoiding the verbalabuse that they would inevitably receive from the dominantboys by speaking out. Regrettably, my interviews with thegirls did not shed further light on this debate.Third, some girls did speak out in the classroom. AsMagda Lewis (Lewis & Simon, 1986) says, "a woman speaking isitself a political act" (p. 460). When girls spoke out theyoccasionally drew a collective, supportive response fromother girls. Whether girls spoke out individually orcollectively they were usually ridiculed by the dominantboys. The dominant boys' response is indicative of whatLewis is talking about when she says:The very act or intention of speaking becomes anintrusion and a potential basis for a violent reactionon the part of those who have decreed our silence.Ultimately for individuals who transgress the limits ofpatriarchy, the forces of regulation are without adoubt swift, sure, and relentless. (Lewis & Simon,1986, p. 460)And fourth, all girls did not respond passively to thedominant boys' remarks. Some girls shouted abusive remarksat the boys. But, the girls' comments paralleled boys'derogatory comments towards girls. Lewis described a247similar response by women students in university classrooms.I agree with Lewis when she writes:Women have found legitimation only to the extent thatwe have been able to appropriate the male agenda, aparticularly self-violating form of escape fromdomination which in the end turns out to be no escapeat all. (Lewis & Simon, 1986, p. 462)The issue of speaking out is clearly complex. I wouldagree with Walkerdine (1990), who argues that speaking outis not about finding a voice, rather it is about finding aplace and having the power to speak. She writes:The issue of silence and speaking is not a simplematter of presence or absence, a suppression versus anenabling. Rather, what is important is not whether oneis or is not allowed to speak, since speaking is alwaysabout saying something. In this sense what can bespoken, how, and in what circumstances, is important.It not only tells us about its obverse, what is leftout, but also directs attention to how particular formsof language, supporting particular notions of truth,come to be produced. This provides a framework forexamining how speaking and silence, and the productionof language itself, become objects of regulation. (p.31)Notwithstanding, in interviews, some girls excusedboys' misogynist practices, and some girls blamed othergirls for boys' responses. This finding agrees with Lees'(1986) description of adolescent girls' responses to boys'behaviour. Lees writes: "The boy is not criticized for hisbehaviour: his chauvinism is regarded as 'natural' orsomething that is unalterable" (p. 79).As well, some girls told me that they were not botheredby the dominant boys' comments. They spoke as if the boys'behaviour did not constrain their being as young women.248While the girls' responses may be considered to be a form ofresistance, I think that the girls' refusal to admit,publicly, to their subordination may have been a protectivemechanism. As Lewis (1989) says, feminist pedagogy mustaddress "the threat to women's survival and livelihood thata critique of patriarchy (in its varied manifestations)poses" (p. 5). Following Patti Lather (1991), rather thanassuming girls' false consciousness, I now realize that Ishould have pursued how the girls came to view the boys'actions as harmless.Although time constraints, the business of classrooms,and concerns about safety and student evaluation preventedteachers from hearing classroom talk, the teachers alsoexcused the boys' actions. They explained male violence interms of culture, or individual psychologicalmaldevelopment, or they said that it was a matter of fun andshould not be taken seriously. In so doing, I would suggestthat the woman teachers indirectly reinforced a subordinateposition for girls and women, and man teachers reinforced akind of masculinity that entails devaluing, silencing, andcontrolling women.Walkerdine (1990) explains a similar response by womanteachers in her study as fitting with the discourse of"progressive education": a discourse that promotes the"natural" development of the child and expression rather249than repression of natural childhood sexuality. Walkerdinewrites:Its purpose is to produce better control through selfcontrol and that, ironically, is what helps to producethe space in the practice for the children to bepowerful....Thus the very discourse helps to producethe children as powerful....Similarly the discourse ofthe naturalness of male sexuality to be expressed, notrepressed, produces and facilitates in the teacher,collusion in her own oppression, since, if she readsactions as normal and natural, and suppression of theseactions as harmful, she is forced into a no-choicesituation. She cannot but allow them to continue, andshe must render harmless their power over her. (p. 8)Similarly, in this study, the teachers' discourseconstructed the boys as harmless, and violence against womencontinued unabated.It is possible that the dominant boys' responsivenessprovided intrinsic rewards for teachers. As one teachertold me "the boys are fun to interact with - the girls arevery quiet, except for Jennifer" [2-5(9)]. Similarly, inresponse to teachers who described boys' violence as mere"naughtiness," Walkerdine (1990) writes: "Girls are, by andlarge, described as lacking the qualities that boys possess.They are no trouble, but then their lack of naughtiness isalso a lack of spark, fire, brilliance" (p. 127). I wouldsuggest that the dominant boys' enthusiasm was instrumentalin causing the teachers in this study to construct the boys'actions as harmless, requiring that they downplay violenceagainst women in their classrooms.Thus, I would argue that the girls' and woman teachers'responses to violence against women cannot be understood in250terms of a straightforward compliance with or resistance totheir subordination. Their response needs to be understoodas a response to their subjectivities as women.SexualityUnderstanding sexuality as a patriarchal structurerequires seeing it not as a biological drive, but as asocial construction. Further, as a social constructionsexuality is not merely a set of individual interactions.Rather, it exhibits taken-for-granted, overarching patternsof gender inequality (Walby, 1990). From this perspective,sexuality is linked with women's subordination underpatriarchy.Radical feminists have given most attention to theprimacy of sexuality as a force of women's oppression(Dworkin, 1981; MacKinnon, 1982; Rich, 1986). Morespecifically, some view heterosexuality as a centralorganizing principle of patriarchy. The argument is thatthrough heterosexual relations women become subordinated -they service men and become sexualized objects of men'sdesire. In her classic piece "Compulsory Heterosexualityand Lesbian Existence," Adrienne Rich (1986) writes: "Thisassumption of female heterosexuality seems to me in itselfremarkable: It is an enormous assumption to have glided sosilently into the foundations of our thought" (p. 34).Rich's comment serves as a reminder that the social251construction of sexuality and gender inequality areinescapably intertwined.In this study, heterosexism was an overarching featureof gender relations. Students' classroom talk constructedstudents as heterosexual, and teachers' side talk withstudents, whether it was about teachers' personal lives, theschool dance, "Valentine's Day," or students' home livesassumed a heterosexual existence. I agree with Connell(1987) when he says "[Education] is organized around themodel of the heterosexual couple [and] reflects thedominance of heterosexual interests and the subordination ofhomosexual people" (p. 117).The dominant boys' homophobic talk further contributedto heterosexism, and to violence against women. The boyscategorized anything, or anyone, they did not like ashomosexual. Men who were deemed inadequate were equatedwith femininity and with homosexuality. Girls who weredeemed inadequate were also equated with homosexuality, aswere the boys with whom the girls associated. Connell(1987) argues that an important condition of hegemonicmasculinity is that it is heterosexual. He says that"contempt for homosexuality and homosexual men...is animportant feature of the ideological package of hegemonicmasculinity" (p. 186).The dominant boys' contempt for lesbians and gay menwas paralleled by their apparent contempt for women. At the252same time, their constant sexual innuendos and theirobjectification of women's bodies had the effect ofemphasizing the notion that men want sex with women at anycost. This contradiction suggests that men use womennegatively to create a camaraderie among men and to protectagainst accusations of homosexuality, showing howheterosexism and misogyny are intertwined.The girls' talk, on the other hand, emphasized romance,thereby supporting Rich's (1986) argument regardingcompulsory heterosexuality. I would argue, however, thatgirls' holding of older men in reverence and surrounded inmystery is not a simple matter of girls' resistance to theirsubordination (McRobbie, 1981), or their conformity to thesexist climate of the school (Lees, 1986), for despite theirideologies of romance, the girls were under no illusions ofthe realities of heterosexual relationships. The girlstalked about the difficulty of finding a male partner whodid not physically abuse women and children, did not have aprison record, or had not dropped out of school. And thegirls understood women's work in caring for children andother family members. I suggest that the girls' ownexperiences in families, and in part-time work, providedthem with a more complete picture of everyday life thanstraightforward notions of resistance or conformity suggest.How then are we to understand girls' fantasies?Walkerdine (1990) suggests that girls' fantasies might be an253escape from their positioning in the discourse. She writes:"The fantasy is a fantasy of escape - from drudgery, thepain of being a woman, a mother, the pain of being workingclass" (p. 124). According to Walkerdine, the point is notto separate fantasy from reality, "but to demonstrate howfantasies themselves are lived, played out and workedthrough in their inscriptions in the veridicality ofdiscourses and practices" (p. 141).Similarly, boys' talk about sport and electronics canbe understood as symbols of macho-masculinity, or asfantasy. Connell (1987), for example, writes about how"symbolic markers of social categories" (in this case sportand computers)..."get detached from their contexts andthemselves become primary objects of arousal" (Connell,1987, p. 115). Walkerdine (1990), however, warns againstwhat she describes as middle-class readings of fantasiesaround sport. After watching a working-class familywatching Rocky II, a film about boxing, Walkerdine writes:Fighting is a key term in a discourse of powerlessness,of a constant struggle not to sink, to get rights, notto be pushed out. It is quite unlike the pathologicalobject of a liberal anti-sexist discourse which wouldunderstand fighting as 'simply' macho violence andwould substitute covert regulation and reasoning inlanguage as less sexist. (p. 187)Walkerdine is not excusing male aggression, but she is"against a universalism of meaning, reading andinterpretation" (p. 187).254The dominant boys' misogynist talk can also be read indifferent ways. One way is to view boys' talk as a way ofcategorizing girls' behaviour. In labelling girls "lezzie,""dog," and "whore," the boys defined girls in terms of theirsexuality and women's social behaviour was given sexualsignificance. Although Lees (1986) views animalisticcategories as different from "slag" or "slut" categories, Ithink that they are similar. Categorizing a woman as a"dog" suggests that she is dirty, and has sexindiscriminately, as does the category "slag." As Leespoints out there are no equivalent terms that girls can useagainst boys: "There are no words that amount to an attackon their whole personality or social identity" (p. 31).At the same time, terms such as "slag" or "dog" mightbe viewed not so much as a description of girls' and women'sactual behaviour, but rather as a "category of 'moralcensure': as part of a discourse about behaviour departure"(Lees, 1986, p. 160). For example, girls who spoke out inthe classroom, or girls who drew attention to their bodiesthrough fashionable clothing, or girls who did not conformto male requirements for women's clothing, such as tightjeans, were likely to be identified with animals orprostitutes. As well, because both girls and boys said that"cow" meant a fat person, their calling girls and women"cow" suggests a symbolic regulation of women's bodies. AsLees points out, such categories provide "an ever present255force, censuring and constraining behaviour irrespective ofthe presence or absence of boys" (p. 82).The complexity of discourse around sexuality as aconstraining force was complicated by girls' occasional useof sexist terms to categorize girls and women. As well,girls and women teachers excused the dominant boys' talk,failing to acknowledge the derogation of women and theconstraints placed on their behaviour when they are definedin terms of their sexuality. I would agree with Lees'(1986), who says:The language of slag is not exercised by boys overgirls, rather both sexes inhabit a world structured bythe language quite irrespective of who speaks to orabout whom. The double standard of morality is soembedded in language and in the conceptions ofmasculinity and femininity that girls rarely contestthem.^(p. 160)Thus, sexuality as a patriarchal structure wasreflected in the gender relations of the classroom. Again,students did not merely reproduce this patriarchalstructure. Rather, they actively produced traditionalgender relations. Although there was little resistance andcontestation, students did produce traditional genderrelations in contradictory ways. Despite the homosocialcharacter of the dominant boys' relationships as a group andtheir apparent interest in heterosexual relations, theyexhibited extreme homophobia and contempt for women.Despite girls' understandings of heterosexual relations,they held older men in reverence and romanced about them.256At the same time, the production of sexuality was mediatedthrough students' subjectivities as women and as men invarious class and gender positions.The patriarchal structures of division of labour,violence against women, and sexuality were reflected in thegender relations in the classrooms studied. I do not wishto suggest, however, that these structures operatedindependently. They interwove and intersected in complexways. For example, violence against women was evident as atool of exclusion and segregation in the division of labour,and in the construction of a homosocial, heterosexistcamaraderie among the dominant boys.As well, school organization operated across thepatriarchal structures of division of labour, violenceagainst women, and sexuality. The isolation of teachers andthe intensification of their work, their additionalresponsibilities such as curriculum development, studentevaluation, and classroom safety, and the ever presentthreat of subject erosion and job security, precludedattention to gender relations in the classroom.In addition, I do not want to suggest that genderinequality operated independently of other forms ofoppression. Rita and Jennifer were both "white," fromso-called "majority" backgrounds, and they provided thegreatest challenge to the division of labour and violenceagainst women. Although other dimensions such as class may257also have played a part, and other "white" girls along withgirls from so-called "minority" backgrounds, were alsosilenced, Rita's and Jennifer's "whiteness" was to me themost striking feature in their resistance to patriarchaldominance. Similarly, Anthony, the only First Nationsstudent in the classroom, exhibited the most anger andaggression, showing possibly how the social construction ofmasculinity intertwines with the experiences of belonging toa so-called "minority" group. Unlike dominant boys,however, Anthony's anger was directed more at societygenerally than it was towards girls and woman teachers. Iregret that no more than token words can be said on thisissue, but I recognize that my own "whiteness" and dominancemay have prevented me from being sensitive to the complexityof gender relations in the classroom.Nevertheless, the findings of this study challenge theview that girls and boys merely reproduce traditional gendercategories. Variation within categories was clearlyevident, as was the part that students and teachers playedin building patriarchal structures. Male dominance wasnever complete, and girls did not passively accept theirsubordination. Students struggled to construct traditionalgender relations and there were many contradictions.The patriarchal structures of division of labour,violence against women, and sexuality manifested themselvesin discourse. Classroom discourse illustrates how the258social construction of femininities and masculinities mustalso be understood in relation to students' subjectivepositionings. Thus language was also a system of power thatdefines and limits not only individual subjectivities, butultimately gender relations.259CHAPTER 8CONCLUSIONThis study has explored the production of genderrelations in a specific coeducational setting - a combinedhome economics and technical studies program in aninner-city secondary school. In investigating thisrelatively unexplored subject area, the study is acontribution to a growing literature on the relationshipbetween schooling and gender inequality. In this chapter, Ireview the major findings of the study and discuss some ofthe implications for theory, policy, research, curriculum,and classroom pedagogy.The chapter is not meant to be prescriptive. AlthoughI have carefully worked toward the criteria for validitydiscussed in chapter 3, this study is not about capturing"truth." While I have attempted to accurately re-presentwhat I heard and what I saw, the interpretation is filteredthrough my own subjectivity. There will necessarily be gapsand inconsistencies and the aissertation itself will nodoubt produce women as other, as I too am implicated inrelations of power. In keeping with this approach to socialscience research, I do not claim to provide answers.Rather, I offer the following comments as a contribution tothe ongoing debate about gender inequality in education.The study raises questions about the adequacy ofcoeducation as a response to gender inequality in schooling.260For me there are three major areas of concern. First, thecoeducational program provided further space for thesubordination of women and other minority groups. A smallgroup of boys dominated student-teacher interaction, andthey abused girls, less powerful boys, and their womanteachers. Not only did the dominant boys' talk overtlyviolate women, their discursive practices also positionedwomen as objects of regulation. As Valerie Walkerdine(1990) points out "Power exists in the apparatuses ofregulation" (p. 42), not simply in the individual.In what could be described as "an interestingtransformation of power" (Walkerdine, 1990, p. 24), teachersexplained the boys' dominance in biological or psychologicaldiscourse and through culture, or as something that shouldnot be taken seriously. The teachers' institutionaldiscourse thus produced the boys' actions as harmless andfurther positioned students in relations of power andpowerlessness.Second, coeducation did not provide an equal educationfor girls and boys. Granting space to girls in technicalstudies, and to boys in home economics, was not paralleledwith a sensitivity to students' interests and ways ofknowing based on their previous gendered experiences.Rather, the home economics and technical studies program wasorganized around the teachers' perceptions of the students'needs and interests. Technical studies teachers' treating261students "the same" meant catering to the perceivedinterests and experiences of boys. Home economics teachers'sensitivity to their perceptions of boys' needs andinterests in a non-traditional area, undermined most girlsand some boys who already had previous experience indomestic work. The home economics and technical studiesteachers' authoritarian, product oriented approach alsoneglected those interested in different ways of knowing,most of whom were girls. The program thus privileged mostboys and left most girls marginalized.In denying differences among students, the program notonly disadvantaged girls, and some boys, intellectually, italso further produced their subjectivities. In particular,the institutional discourse of the importance of treatingstudents "the same" is a liberal discourse of meritocracy.The discourse cannot avoid producing girls as Other becauseit ignores gender inequality. In this way, "fictions" ofequality of opportunity are built into the structure ofschooling. As Carmen Luke (1992) points out:It is those epistemic gendered dualisms and oppositionsthat can guarantee equality at the level of anti-sexistlegislative tactics while guaranteeing the continuationof unequal positioning and power, even when women areadmitted to the public. (p. 32)Third, requiring girls and boys to engage in domesticand technical work did not challenge the sexual division oflabour. Although students learned skills that were new tothem, the coeducational program did not change students'262minds about who can do this work, nor did it change theirnotions about the value assigned to each area. Studentsbrought their previous beliefs about, and experiences in,domestic and technical work to the classroom with them andthese had a powerful effect. And, in all but one section,the teachers' product oriented approach left the students'beliefs about the division of labour unchallenged.Students' previous experiences in domestic andtechnical work positioned them in a discourse that furtherconstructed their subjectivities. The discourse of thegirls, boys and teachers constructed the girls as"powerless" in technical work. And, while girls' exertedpower in the domestic setting, their discourse confined themto domesticity and economic dependency. Power was ashifting relation, depending on the students' positioning inthe discourse.These three areas of concern about coeducation as aresponse to gender inequality, reveal a major contradictionin the program. Including boys in home economics and girlsin technical studies was intended to help break down thedivision of labour and further gender equality. Yet,classroom practices supported the division of labour andwomen's subordination, and students' and teachers'discursive practices produced girls and women in subordinatepositions. Clearly, adding boys to home economics and girlsto technical studies does not deal with the complexity of263gender relations, nor does it present a serious challenge topatriarchal structures.My concerns about coeducation should not be interpretedas an argument for single-sex schooling. Relations of powerexisted within as well as between sex groups, andpatriarchal structures were reflected in single-sex as wellas mixed-sex interactions. As Sue Lees (1986) points out,girls' and women's behaviour is regulated irrespective ofthe presence or absence of boys or men. Rather, my argumentcalls for a rethinking of the meaning of gender equity and areappraisal of gender equity policies that deal only withissues of access.This study has shown that gender equity means more thanfinding spaces for girls and boys in nontraditional areas.It also means attending to knowledge in the curriculum andgender relations in the classroom, and confronting thepowerful institutional discourses that keep women andminorities marginalized. A curriculum based on theauthority of the teacher, a curriculum that reflects white,male, middle-class, heterosexual interests, and a curriculumthat takes a technical approach to human problems, reflectsand reinforces the patriarchal structures of the widersociety. As does a classroom environment where girls, andboys who do not support dominant practices, are ignored,silenced, and abused. As do the powerful institutional264discourses that excuse boys' practices, construct women as"other," and as objects of regulation and social control.At the same time, more needs to be known about how tomake curriculum and classroom pedagogy more gendersensitive. Talk about "women's ways of knowing" risksessentializing women's experiences, obliterating identities,and further oppressing minority groups. And the emphasis onfinding places for women to speak, risks neglecting theimportance of having men question their own privilege andpositioning. We need to know more about how teachers cometo understand the development of young people, and we needto find ways of challenging the dominant discourses. Muchwork is needed to better understand the relation betweengender inequality, curriculum, and classroom practice.My concerns about what happened in these coeducationalclassrooms should not be read as teacher-blaming. Teachersare equally trapped in patriarchal structures and theirclassrooms are sites of the larger social processes ofgender relations. As Kathleen Weiler (1988) says: "Schoolsare not isolated from the dynamics of the wider society;quite the contrary, they magnify the contradictions andtensions of a society so marked by inequality andoppression" (p. 148).Teachers' practices must also be understood in relationto the gender and class politics of schools, and theconditions of teachers' work. As Jane Roland Martin (1981)265points out, school systems place little value on knowledgefor the private sphere. And, schools have traditionallydelegated technical education as a priority only fornon-academic students (Goodson, 1983). Inclusion of girlsand boys in home economics and technical studies did notresult in more time being given to these areas: what itmeant was less time and more students. As a result,teachers' workloads increased, curriculum content andpedagogy became standardized and fragmented, there waslittle opportunity for teachers to work collaboratively, andteachers had little time to devote to gender relations intheir classrooms. Clearly, if schools are serious aboutworking towards gender equity, the organization of schoolingand the conditions of teachers' work needs attention.Nevertheless, the study raises questions about the roleof schooling in changing traditional gender relations.Students and teachers did not simply passively reproducetraditional gender categories. Rather, they were activelyengaged in the production of gender relations. And althoughstudents and teachers ultimately engaged in the reproductionrather than the transformation of traditional genderrelations, there were divisions within gender categories andtheir practices were riddled with contradictions. AsConnell et al. (1981) state: "Contradictions andincoherencies...can make space for different practices"(p. 115). As well, although girls exerted power in the266domestic setting, further confining them to domesticity andeconomic dependency, their demonstrations of authority showhow power is a shifting relation. As Jane Gaskell (1992)says, "Life is not static; power is not a thing but arelation that is constantly negotiated" (p. 138).Notwithstanding, further research in other schools isneeded to provide a better understanding of how traditionalgender relations are reproduced or transformed incoeducational home economics and technical studies settings.Also, it would be useful to explore the social constructionof gender in other school subjects. In this regard, I wouldfavour more collaborative kinds of research with teachersand students than was possible in the present study.Further, this study focused only on the patriarchalstructures of division of labour, violence against women,and sexuality. More work is needed to develop therelationship between gender inequality in schooling andpatriarchal structures.While the dissertation has illustrated how thecurriculum was based on white, middle-class, heterosexistassumptions, and it has exposed blatant incidences ofsexism, racism, and heterosexism in the classroom, theintersection of gender, "race," ethnicity, social class, andsexual orientation needs to be further developed. AlthoughI endeavoured to be sensitive to ethnicity, I was cautiousabout over-interpreting ethnic differences. And as a white,267heterosexual woman of privilege I was hesitant in exploringmore subtle forms of racism and heterosexism with students.As well, the political climate constrained the kinds ofquestions I was able to ask of students and teachers.Nevertheless, we must find ways of exploring the experiencesof students without causing them further violation.Understanding the intersection of gender with other forms ofoppression in schools is a priority.What can be done about the gendering that goes on inschools? What can be done to challenge patriarchalstructures such as the sexual division of labour, violenceagainst women, and sexuality? Is it possible to bring aboutchange when working within a system that supports andproliferates dominant discourses and itself embodies malesupremacy? If, as Connell (1987) says, practice can beturned back on itself, what would this look like in theclassroom?As I bring closure to this dissertation, feministtheorists are exploring the limits and possibilities ofliberatory pedagogy. For example, Elizabeth Ellsworth(1989) says that classroom practice is "always partial,interested, and potentially oppressive to others" (p. 324);Valerie Walkerdine (1990) describes woman teachers caught inthe ideal of "freeing" each individual student, as trappedin "bourgeois reality" and an "impossible fiction" (p. 21);and Carmen Luke (1992) argues that liberatory pedagogy may268be nothing other than "idealized liberalism" (p. 37). Lukewrites:The point is this: to grant equal time to femalestudents, to democratize the classroom speechsituation, and to encourage marginal groups to makepublic what is personal and private does not altertheoretically or practically those gendered structuraldivisions upon which liberal capitalism and itsknowledge industries are based. Those very divisionshave generated countless discourses of, strategies andpleas for "equalities" in the first place. Theemancipatory strategy of the public confessional mayboth be an illusory reading of classroom genderpolitics and of students' critical' responses.(P. 37)While these arguments are important ones, feministtheorists also point enthusiastically to the possibilitiesof feminist pedagogy. Sue Lees (1986), for example, arguesthat attention must be given to the language of sexism asthis not only categorizes women, but it also acts as a forceof regulation and social control. Here I would include notonly the language of sexual abuse, but also the biologicaland psychological discourses that excuse misogynistpractices. Lees acknowledges that to change the dominantdiscourse is difficult because it challenges basicassumptions about masculinity and femininity.Linda Briskin (1990) calls for a pedagogy that empowersstudents through knowledge about oppressive societalstructures and calls into question the gender relations ofclassrooms. She calls this an anti-sexist pedagogy towardsgender equity. Briskin writes:An anti-sexist strategy makes gender an issue in allclassrooms in order to validate the experience of all269students, to bring it into consciousness and tochallenge it. It makes gender an official rather thanan unofficial factor in classroom process andcurriculum; by extension an anti-sexist strategy takesup race, class, and sexual orientation, whichinterrelate in complex patterns withgender....Anti-sexism shifts the focus from the realmof morality (I am not sexist) to the realm of politicalpractice (What can I do about sexism?). (p. 14)And, Magda Lewis (1990) uses students' resistance toliberatory pedagogy to rethink feminist practice. She saysthat educators must acknowledge "the threat to women'ssurvival and livelihood that a critique of patriarchy in itsvaried manifestations confronts" (p. 473). She furthersuggests that educators work at creating safe spaces intheir classrooms, for all students, particularly women, andwork with men so that they learn to question their ownpractices.Further research is needed to find out how dominantdiscursive practices are challenged and transformed. Weneed to hear more stories about how educators in elementaryand secondary schools have attempted to challenge thedominant discourses.Thus attention to gender inequality involves more thana reorganization of home economics and technical studiesprograms to include boys and girls. As Adrienne Rich (1985)says, it means taking women students seriously. It meansunderstanding the inequities that result when traditionalpower relations enter into our daily lives in classrooms.It means examining the taken-for-granted experiences we have270as boys and girls, women and men. It means recognizing thediversity of human experience, revaluing women's knowledgeand women's work, and changing traditional ways of relating.Rather than ignoring, accepting, or excusing patriarchalpractices, it means challenging dominant discourses andplacing gender relations on the agenda in the classroom.There lies the challenge of feminist teaching.^The workcontinues.271REFERENCESAcker, Sandra (Ed.). (1989). 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