Gender Issues in Design and Technology in the Primary School

Hamlin, John Alexander (2004). Gender Issues in Design and Technology in the Primary School. EdD thesis The Open University.



Design and technology is a relatively new subject in the primary school curriculum and, although it is believed to be important in aiding national prosperity through technological progress, there is little to be found about it yet in the research literature. Experience of the curriculum in general is a dominant feature of school life - particularly since the introduction of the National Curriculum - and yet it is not a developed area of research, either.

This is a pro-feminist ethnographic study that begins to address these gaps in the literature. It explores how children in their final year in a primary school approach their work in this curricular area and how they use it in the construction of their own gender identities.

This dissertation demonstrates how pupils articulate a discourse of equal opportunities whilst subjected to the powerful discourse of gender dichotomy. It shows how children demarcate boundaries between the sexes and have ways of keeping each other on the correct side of the gender divide.

Popular cultural resources such as sport, music and television play an important part in children's lives. The children in this study take images and ideas from these cultural resources as well as other aspects of their lives to use in their classroom work in design and technology and through that to the process of constructing their gender identities. The study concludes with some thoughts on its implications for the future.

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