chapter  1
5 Pages

Young women 'on the margins': representation, research and politics

While the impact of feminism inside and outside of schools has brought real gains for many women and girls, the extent and form of such changes has been somewhat uneven and class differentiated. Focussing on overall gains and changes or on a new girl order can obscure both the experiences of those for whom success in conventional terms remains elusive and the heterogenous and complex

material and cultural spaces girls inhabit. The discourse of 'new times' can also overshadow proper consideration of whether or how patterns of differentiation and inequalities, as well as deep-seated cultural meanings and images, can persist or echo across time, place and different political and social contexts. This is not to suggest that such meanings and inequalities remain unchanged, nor to imply that they take the same form in twenty-first century Canada or Australia as they did in mid-twentieth-century Europe. Rather, it is to question notions of new times, or of new girl orders, which infer a simple view of historical processes - as if social change is abrupt and radically discontinuous with the past - and neglect to see the ways in which elements of change and continuity are part of the present.