Contemporary Girls: Understanding The Contradictory Feminine Demands In The High School Classroom




Cooper, Therese

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This research project will explore how gender, particularly notions of femininity, is structured in the classroom and what effects feminine notions have on girls’ interpretations of school. I hope to develop an in-depth understanding of how one diverse high school, as a site where social scripts of femininity play out, shape girls’ experiences in school and their understanding of academic success. In the case of my research, this will be a study in contrast- how two extremely different groups of girls occupy the same space and negotiate similar issues, but do it in very different ways. To get at the meaning(s) girls place on school I aim to focus on the “talk” of girls. If school is also seen as a social place, and not just for academics by students, what students talk about and who they talk to (peers and teachers) is vital to understanding the role school plays in their lives. I am not suggesting that the social overshadows academics, but the reality is that girls do recognize the social role of school- even if they cannot verbalize it in succinct terms. I also aim to focus on the role of school as a site for identity formation and how gender dynamics aid in girls’ abilities to discover who they are. More importantly I want to examine how girls address the competing demands that exist in school- doing well academically and doing well in gender. For all these reasons focusing on gender in the classroom is critical to understanding what and how girls think, feel and express themselves in both verbal and non-verbal ways.



Youth Culture-Girls, Race-Hispanic Culture, Gender, Classroom Interactions, Education-High School