chapter  13
22 Pages

Celia Haig-Brown: Gender Equity, Policy, and Praxis

The school system will: promote gender equity in all programs and services and work to eliminate sexism in schools. -Ministry of Education, British Columbia

There is no denouement, only continued working-through. -Nancy Caraway on Minnie Bruce Pratt's Identity: Skin Blood Heart

The central argument of this chapter is that the ambiguity which lies within a particular government policy of "gender equity" both promotes and impedes the transformative goals of feminism. I locate this policy within the specific context of a classroom, a place of "power at its extremities, in its ultimate destinations, with those points where it becomes capillary, that is, in its more regional and local forms and institutions" (Foucault 1980, 96). In

keeping with Spivak's (1993, 25) notion of the critical as "a philosophy that is aware of the limits of knowing," I present a critical feminist view of what nineteen students and two teachers (Linda Eyre, then a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia, now an associate professor at the University of New Brunswick, and myself) wrote and thought about the policy-based, government-funded university course entitled "Gender Equity: Issues in Teacher Education." I examine how the students came to know, and to work within, the parameters of the policy of gender equity and how they dealt with the complex interrelations within the "sisterhood" of the class. Ultimately, I choose to acknowledge those possibilities, however slight, which may arise with the careful use of such government policy initiatives as gender equity.