HE White Paper and gender and academic success – Research Reviews (2)

Much of what I’ve been reading over the last few weeks has been about the HE White Paper http://www.bis.gov.uk/news/topstories/2011/Jun/he-white-paper-students-at-the-heart-of-the-system. There have been lots of really good press articles and blog posts on this. Andrew McGettigan’s piece on the wonkhe blog offers a really comprehensive and heartfelt critique http://www.wonkhe.com/?p=806. The Bridge Group have expressed concerns about the impact of the White Paper on social mobility, the role of information, advice and guidance and the potential dangers of focusing too much on AAB students http://www.thebridgegroup.org.uk/evidence/WhitePaperResponse.pdf. In the THE, David Price of UCL has written on the secret to saving our universities and supports the idea that we should be “cultivating wisdom” rather than encouraging a narrow focus on the salary benefits of degrees http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=416820&c=1#%23.

On an entirely different subject, I have also been reading a thought-provoking paper that looks at the ways girls negotiate academic success against the backdrop of neo-liberal post-feminist discourses which suggest that smart girls (if they try hard enough) can have it all (i.e. the super girl and power girl narratives) ‘Oh she’s so smart”. Girls’ complex engagements with post-feminist narratives of academic success (Pomerantz & Raby, forthcoming in Gender and Education) http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showAxaArticles?journalCode=cgee20. This focus group research in Canadian schools highlights the tensions inherent in the position of smart girls who feel that they have to be good at everything and feel that they no longer have the right to complain about inequality. It’s a good read.