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Re-inscribing gender binaries: Deconstructing the dominant discourse around women's equality in science, engineering, and technology

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alison PhippsORCiD


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This paper tracks and attempts to unravel a persistently dominant discursive construction of the problem of women's under-representation in science, engineering, and technology (SET) education and work: the idea that the interaction of gender stereotyping with the masculine image of SET disciplines and workplaces prevents girls and women from choosing SET subjects and going into SET careers. The discursive framework of 'Women in SET' will be examined at both macro and micro levels as it operates in the field of activist and pedagogic activity that has grown around the issue since the 1970s. A Foucauldian analysis will be applied in order to explore the kinds of subject positions this framework enables and excludes. It will be argued that the 'Women in SET' framework re-inscribes the gendered binaries that have at a symbolic level defined girls/women and SET as mutually exclusive, and as a result practices based on this framework may be counter-productive because their subjectivating effects on girls and women may undermine their broad political aims. © 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Phipps A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociological Review

Year: 2007

Volume: 55

Issue: 4

Pages: 768-787

Print publication date: 01/11/2007

ISSN (print): 0038-0261

ISSN (electronic): 1467-954X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2007.00744.x


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