Taking a visibility perspective on gendering in secondary school mathematics

Smith, Cathy (2021). Taking a visibility perspective on gendering in secondary school mathematics. In: Exploring new ways to connect: Proceedings of the Eleventh International Mathematics Education and Society Conference Vol 3 (Kollosche, David ed.), pp. 947–956.

URL: https://zenodo.org/record/5416581#.YUBx27hKhEY


The theoretical perspective of visibility has been used in organisation studies to understand how participation can be constructed differently for minority and majority groups. This paper combines liberal and poststructural approaches to understanding who is made visible, and how, in mathematics practices where choice aligns with gender. I re-analyse existing data from case studies of English schools with high mathematics participation for girls aged 16-18. Within these accounts of girls’ experiences, prevailing discourses are those that render boys’ struggles and successes highly visible. Quiet effort serves as an invisible background that is ascribed to girls and to maturity. In contrast, the hypervisible girl achiever is understood through a single aspect of identity – mathematical success without struggle or support.

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