1st Edition

Girls, Single-Sex Schools, and Postfeminist Fantasies

ISBN 9781138290419
Published December 5, 2019 by Routledge
248 Pages

USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Bringing together feminist theory, girlhood studies, and curriculum theory, this book contributes an in-depth critical analysis of curriculum in single-gender schooling for girls in postfeminist landscapes of "unlimited choices" and resurgences of proper girlhood. The arguments challenge the mainstream assumptions and promotions about the guarantees of female success via small school supports, tailored curricula, protection, school choice and class advantage.

Single-gender schools are not homogenous; they have different histories, student populations, finances and organization. Recognizing this diversity, Girls, Single-sex Schools, and Postfeminist Fantasies draws on rich data collected in two US secondary schools over a two-year period to identify and explore the ambiguities of success in single-sex schools for girls. Rich classroom observations and interviews with teachers and students reveal the resounding message delivered to girls - that they can "have it all" by going to college. By exploring students’ imaginings, hopes, and doubts around college, the text illustrates how this catalyzes girls’ critiques of their futures and of the schooled storylines of female success. While teachers might trumpet college, career, and limitless horizons, girls seek to understand their social positions and try to make sense of family, passions, and future happiness.

This book will be of great interest to graduate and postgraduate students, academics, researchers, libraries in secondary education, girlhood studies, sociology of education, gender and sexuality in education, single-sex schooling, and feminist theory.

Table of Contents



List of Tables


Chapter 1: The education of "successful" girls in single-sex schools

Chapter 2: A curriculum of girlhood

Chapter 3: A place for girls

Chapter 4: High hopes and curriculum as "makeover"

Chapter 5: High hopes and a pedagogy of privilege

Chapter 6: Cruel futures, and other postfeminist failures

Chapter 7: A critical education for girls




View More



Stephanie D. McCall is Assistant Professor in Professional and Secondary Education at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, USA.


Stephanie McCall takes us on an eye-opening journey through two all-girls schools to show how girls are positioned differently while still understood as subjects of infinite capacity. McCall’s engaging book brilliantly explores how ‘girl power’ rhetoric about girls’ optimistic futures does not account for oppressions, privileges, and the sexism that permeates our culture. Instead of understanding single-sex schools as bastions of female empowerment where girls can freely thrive in a supportive female environment, using rich ethnographic data, McCall deftly shows how girls are produced within curricular knowledges shaping them in profound, demanding, and invisible ways. Far from ‘genderless’, all-girls schools operate through carefully crafted notions of girlhood that are mobilized differently in public and private educational settings. This book is necessary reading for anyone interested in gender and education, particularly as these topics intersect with a culture that promises girls equality and achievement but delivers little more than ‘postfeminist fantasies’.

- Shauna Pomerantz is Associate Professor of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University, Canada. She is co-author or Smart Girls: Success, School, and the Myth of Post-Feminism.