Gender and Sexuality in Compulsory Education

Course Description: 

Education is one of the major fields of social life where subjectivities and social inequalities are constituted and re/produced on institutional, curricular and interpersonal levels. Our focus in this course is compulsory education, meaning primary and secondary schooling, and the re/production of gendered and sexual subjectivities and inequalities. The first part of the course provides an introduction to some key concepts and debates in the field of gender and education, including gender socialisation theories, disciplinary power, docile bodies, class habitus and cultural capital. In the second part of the course we will engage with the specific ways and forms of re/producing gendered and sexual subjectivities and inequalities in contemporary neoliberal schooling via qualitative research studies done in schools. We will inquire into the constitution of femininities and masculinities, sexualities, and look at sex education and teachers’ subjectivities. Raced/ethnic and classed subjectivities and inequalities are inseparable from gender and sexuality, therefore, besides devoting two classes specifically to these axes, they will be intersectionally incorporated in the rest of the material to be read and discussed. You will be encouraged to contextualise readings and critically reflect both on your personal educational experiences and your regional/national institutional educational environment in relation to the issues discussed.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course you will be familiar with key concepts and debates in the field of gender and education and have an overview of the role of education in the re/production of gendered, raced/ethnic, classed and sexual subjectivities and inequalities in education. You will also be able to theorise your own gendered, raced/ethnic, classed and sexual educational experiences and put them into the larger conceptual framework of social re/production through education. Through active discussions in the class you will improve your argumentation skills. Through the reaction papers and end-term paper you will develop your writing skills and reflections on education issues from a gender perspective.


Course requirements

1. Attendance

Attending all the classes is mandatory. Since the readings and the class sessions in this course complement and build on each other, it is extremely important that you participate in class, are on time and prepared, each time. Please do the day’s reading before coming to class, and be prepared to discuss and ask questions about the reading assignments. If you cannot come to class, let the professor know in advance. You can miss one class without compensatory work to do, but if you miss more than one class, you will be required to make up for it by writing an extra reaction paper about the assigned readings for the missed class.

2. Reaction papers

You are required to produce two reaction papers (400-800 words) on one or all of the assigned readings of the given week. It is your choice which texts you will write reaction papers about, just make sure they are all submitted before the beginning of class on the day of the readings you are writing about. The first reaction paper is to be submitted no later than in Week 3, the second no later than in Week 8. The reaction papers have to be submitted via email.

A reaction paper for this course is expected to be a short piece of writing which includes (1) a brief (1 paragraph) summary of the main points of the text or texts you chose, and (2) picking an argument or two from the text(s) and writing a reflection on that/those argument(s). The reflection can be something the text(s) made you think about, some question that occured to you while reading, some reflection on a personal educational experience or institutional phenomenon through the argumentation of the text(s). So it is rather a reflexive piece of writing, not a simple summary or a literature review paper.

3. Presentation of end-term paper proposal

In Week 7 all students will have an opportunity to present their end-term paper proposals and all proposals will be discussed together in class. You are required to send your proposals (cc. 300-500 words) to your peers and the professor no later than 4 days in advance, so that we are able to provide feedback on each proposal in class. At this stage the proposal should be a brief description of an idea, of something you are interested in writing about. And maybe some questions about it that you would like to discuss. You will not have read all the texts by then, but it is recommended that you go through the abstracts/introductions of texts for later classes, in case you need inspiration for an idea.

4. End-term paper

The end-term paper should be 2000-4000 words long. The paper is expected to engage with some of the readings we discussed and offer an original reflection on the chosen topic. You can choose any of the topics of the course and you are expected to find and engage with additional literature relevant to your topic. Collecting empirical data for your paper using qualitative methods is encouraged but not required. Plagiarised papers will not be accepted, delayed submission will be penalized by lowering your grade. Consultation hours for the papers will be announced and scheduled for Week 10, and that’s when the deadline for the final papers will be announced as well.


Grading will be based on the following criteria:

  • reaction papers (30%)
  • active class participation (20%)
  • end-term paper (50%)