A New Framework for Looking at Gender Equity

Year: 2000

Author: GILL, J, STARR, K

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

From these song fragments, which Judy recalls being sung by her grandmother who was born in 1872 in Melbourne and who had finished formal schooling by her twelfth birthday, it would seem that issues we now have learned to group under the term 'gender equity' have been with us for a very long time. Boys have been teasers and bullies and girls have been restrained and generally good. What we want to suggest in this paper is that perhaps the term 'gender equity' is nearing the end of its usefulness as a strategy for promoting social change, precisely because of the ways in which it is currently being mobilized. We will demonstrate that gender equity in current parlance can be seen to operate in an endless reiterative binary logic, based on the idea of a finite amount of opportunity that must be dealt out turn by turn to students as consumers. What we want to propose is a less materialist bound notion of educational opportunities, a renewed attention to ways of thinking about gender and a reconceptualisation of the goals of the gender equity movement. We will do this by:

a. offering a brief overview of the recent history of gender equity in Australian schooling
b. demonstrating the ways in which gender equity has become submerged in a rhetoric of competitive turn taking and constructed notions of 'a fair go'
c. suggesting new ways of thinking about gender justice.