Gendered discourses in adult literacy education
: a feminist reading

  • Carmel Ann Darling

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    This is a feminist study of some gendered discourses operating in the organisational structures, policies, and practices of selected adult literacy education sites in some parts of Australia. Adult literacy education has been chosen as this study's field of investigation because it is a field in which women have historically played leading roles in all areas and at all levels. Since the late 1980's, however, the field has become increasingly 'masculinised· as changes in government policy have involved adult education programs, particularly literacy programs, in the discourses of economic rationalism in vocational education and training.

    The main questions which the author seeks to answer in this study concern what constitutes gendered discourses, how do they operate, and what does it mean to be a female subject of gendered discourses in the field of adult literacy education. The answers to these questions are sought in a small research project, involving eight women working in different areas of adult education. The author takes a poststructural feminist position in reading the investigation of the problem of gendered discourses, and in basing some findings in the knowledges and experiences of the women subjects of the research.

    The main findings of the study concern the taken-for-granted phallocentric discourses in the structures and practices of the adult litercy education sites researched. The author finds an androcentric logic underpinning the organisation of these sites which serves to appropriate the knowledges and skills of those employed in them to a masculinist schema. The author's reading of the research finds, however, that the gendered discourses and the subjectivities which they construct for women are mostly resisted by the women taking part in the study. The author finds that most of the women construct their subjectivities from the standpoint of their own gendered experiences, understandings and values. The most significant findings of the research concern ways in which the subjects of the research make their own discursive meanings by re-working pedagogical theories, challenging discursive constructions of policies, and resisting masculinist schemas in ways of working and thinking about work.
    Date of AwardFeb 1995
    Original languageEnglish

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