Boys will be boys (if they pay attention in science class)

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


Although a great deal of attention since the late 1970s has been given to the masculine construction and practice of science, this critique has not completely entered the realm of school science. To the extent that it has, it has largely been deployed to depict the disadvantage that female students find themselves at as they negotiate within this curricular realm. Some work has focused on male students' constructions of masculinities and their often deleterious effects in the classroom, but it has not specifically addressed the school subject of science. This paper interrogates what this masculinized image and structure of science means to boys--then by extension, to girls as well--in our science classrooms. Using data gathered during primary school science lessons, some of the ways in which school science serves to recapitulate a middle class, hegemonic version of masculinity is examined. Whereas the literature around the formation and expression of working class masculinity stresses the importance of the "physical" in coming to a true masculine identity, school science serves as a nice example to illustrate how a middle class version of masculinity focuses on the mind rather than the body. Some implications for the discipline of science and for science classrooms, both in terms of the structure of the school science curriculum and the pedagogies used to convey that curriculum, are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhat About the Boys? Issues of Masculinity in Schools
Place of PublicationBuckingham, UK
PublisherOpen University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)0335206239
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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