What Kind of “girl”? Curricular Knowledge and the Making Of Girls and Young Women in Two All-girls Schools
By: Stephanie Dawn McCall
Published: 2014
Uploaded: 01/09/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2014 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: curriculum, Feminist, Successful girls

Description/Abstract: Today's girl has become a spectacle of modern progress. Signified as girl power in media and education today, young women are celebrated as feminine subjects who can do anything and be anyone (McRobbie, 2007). The flexibility of a girl's destiny has incited a certainty that girls can have it all. However, girls' iconic status as successful neoliberal subjects calls into question what they need to know and be able to do to enact such potential. While seductive, girl power lacks an analysis of what knowledge and which girls as well as how desire mobilizes them into success. As the positions of "girl" change in culture, society, government, politics, and the economy, the knowledge needed to participate fully in the public sphere that has historically denied her must also change. This multiple case study (Stake, 2006) was set in two secondary all-girls schools, one public and one private. Data collection included participant observation in subject-area classrooms, interviews with teachers, focus group interviews with students, and document analysis of curriculum-related materials. Bringing together feminist poststructuralist theory, curriculum theory, and girlhood studies, the findings of this study suggested that discourses of unambiguous female success and the belief that rational knowledge in school produces the desired student/female subject circulated in both schools. The modes through which storylines of success traveled in the academic curriculum, the relations of control and competence, and the psychic economy for success produced different curricular conditions in the schools. The similar discourse of unambiguous female success in both schools may help explain why single-gender schools are thought to produce the same kind of girl; yet, this multicase study argued that different curricular knowledge in the two schools recontextualized discourses of female success, in part by how the students were already figured and imagined. This study showed how curricular knowledge is saturated with a desire for a particular girl and how discourses of knowledge and success construct promises that move girls towards objects like college