Revisiting and deconstructing research into gender and science education in Australia: A description of work in progress

Year: 1994

Author: Hayes, Debra N.A.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

It is only during the past 20 years that the education of girls has become an issue of concern in Australia. The election of the Whitlam Labour government after 23 years of conservative leadership at the national level provided an important impetus for drawing attention to the education of girls. Since this original impetus, a large body of research has developed which focuses on issues of gender in education.

As with any field of research, there are many characteristics and variables that can be identified and analysed in order to develop a better understanding of the field. In the case of research into gender and education, previous studies have, for example, mapped the field in terms of the topics of research or the disciplines out of which the research has emerged, summarised the findings of research and outlined the context of research in Australia as a way of drawing comparisons with similar research overseas.

The research described in this paper specifically focuses on the gender and science education discourse. By analysing the research in terms of its discursive characteristics, it is hoped that this will reveal the nature of the knowledge produced. Such an approach is based upon an understanding that research is a process of producing knowledge and that deconstructing this process will help answer questions such as: Who contributed to the development of this discourse? Why were certain issues taken up, researched and given funding priority? and, Whose interests were served through the discursive practices that developed?