chapter  18
CHAPTER Gender and Sexuality: Continuities and Change for Girls in School
Pages 12

Introduction In this chapter I want to comment upon gender and sexuality as social categories and as subject positions in the context of contemporary schooling. In particular I aim to focus upon the experiences of girls in secondary schools in order to trace some of the main changes that have taken place within this domain since the 1970s. Describing and analyzing change also brings into focus abiding features of continuity. At a point when the gendered experiences of boys and girls have become a subject of media interest and critical debate, it may be timely to ask what is new and what has remained the same in the everyday social worlds of girls in school. Proverbial themes such as failing boys and overperforming girls, the crises in masculinity, and new feminine subjectivities have become part of the lexicon of contemporary educational discourse. In commenting upon these themes, I draw upon a body of literature, in particular feminist research, that has been concerned to explore issues of gender and sexuality as a significant feature of postwar educational change in the United Kingdom and beyond. This chapter specifically draws upon ethnographic studies of sexuality and gender in schools, including my own study (Kehily 2002) based in the West Midlands area of the United Kingdom.