This book uses detailed case studies of two secondary schools to examine the relationship between curriculum choice and gender identity among fourteen-year-old pupils making their first choices about what subjects to pursue at exam level. It reveals a two way process. Pupils’ decisions on what subject to take are influenced by how they perceive themselves in gender terms, and the curriculum once chosen reinforces their sense of gender divisions. The author looks at the influences on pupils at this stage in their lives from peers, family and the labour market as well as from teachers. She argues that the belief in freedom of choice and school neutrality espoused by many teachers can become an important factor in the reproduction of gender divisions, and that unless the introduction of the national curriculum is accompanied by systematic efforts to eradicate sexism from the hidden curriculum it will fail in its aim of creating greater equality of educational opportunity among the sexes.

chapter |4 pages


part I|28 pages

Setting the Scene

chapter 1|14 pages

Researching Gender and Curriculum Choice

Theory, methods and research role

chapter 2|11 pages

The Physical Location of the Study

part II|58 pages

School Organisation and the Construction of the Gendered Curriculum

part III|114 pages

Girls, Their Families and the Construction of Femininity

chapter 5|20 pages

Pupils' Understandings of School Subjects

The recontextualisation of gender

chapter 6|27 pages

Pupils' Expectations of the Future

Radical and conservative visions

chapter 7|22 pages

Competing Gender Codes in the Classroom

chapter 8|41 pages

Parents and the Culture of Femininity

part IV|30 pages

The Impact of the National Curriculum on the Construction of Gender Divisions

chapter 9|15 pages

The National Curriculum

Solution or blind alley?

chapter 10|12 pages

Gender and the Curriculum

Progressive and conservative elements in the balance