Rethinking Gender Equity policy assemblages and Australian schooling

Year: 2015

Author: Gannon, Susanne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

On the eve of the twenty-year anniversary of the landmark Gender Equity: A Framework for Australian schools (1997), this paper experiments with different ways of thinking through that policy moment and its trajectories, beyond the usual chronological feminist metanarrative of loss and mourning (Hemmings, 2009). The policy assumptions of the Framework as a template for change are critiqued and alternative modes for rethinking gender, policy and policy analysis are explored. In this approach, policy is understood as a complex assemblage of human and non-human actors, impacted by particular temporalities and spatialities. Therefore, policy analysis entails following unexpected movements of matter and affect that open different modes of understanding to those that are available through conventional policy logic and the progressivist assumptions which underpin it. The paper draws upon three sources – a borrowed policy archive, interviews with policy actors at the national level, and autoethnographic reflections on the policy moment of the Framework. These are used to construct microstories of policy enactment, and to work into some of the complexities and (im)possibilities of policy on gender equity. These include policy gaps and silences such as desire, attachments to (hetero)normative gendered practices, marginalisation of feminist critiques, and the impacts of neoliberalism. It concludes by considering how and whether it might be possible to rethink gender equity as a policy space for schools and educational systems in the present.