Policy Discourses, Gender, and Education: Constructing Women's Status, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Policy Discourses, Gender, and Education

Constructing Women's Status, 1st Edition

By Elizabeth J. Allan


222 pages

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Despite over thirty years of activism and legislation to eliminate discrimination, parity has yet to be achieved for women in academe. This book describes policy discourse analysis as a framework for considering how those involved in policy-making efforts may make use of discourses that inadvertently undermine the intended effect of the policies they set forth. Allan illustrates the methods of policy discourse analysis by describing their use in a study of twenty-one women's commission reports. In so doing, she highlights the important work of university women's commissions while uncovering policy silences and making visible the powerful discourses framing gender equity policy initiatives in higher education. Her findings reveals how dominant discourses of femininity, access, professionalism, race, and sexuality contribute to constructing women's status in complex and at times, contradictory ways. This important volume will interest researchers across a number of disciplines including policy studies, educational leadership, higher education and cultural studies of education.


"Higher education students and faculty who are interested in policy analysis would be well served by reading this book. The concepts of policy discourse analysis are often abstract and loaded with thick vocabulary. Allan makes the work as accessible as possible by providing a nice summary of important concepts and pairing it with specific examples. The book provides a remarkably rich reference source for policy discourse analysis, particularly as it relates to postmodern feminist scholarship."—Review of Higher Education

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Discourse, Power, and Knowledge: The Making of Subject Positions 3. Unthinking Policy: Why Policy Discourse Analysis? 4. Shaping Policy Discourse Analysis: A Hybrid Methodology 5. Doing Policy Discourse Analysis: An Illustration 6. University Women’s Commissions and Women’s Status: An Introduction 7. The Outsider: Policy Discourse Analysis and Women’s Access to Higher Education 8. The Vulnerable Outsider: Policy Discourse Analysis and Women’s Safety on Campus 9. Achieving Women: Shaping the Professional Subject 10. Discourse and Identity Differences: Constructing Women’s Status 11. Unthinking and Re/Thinking: Insights from Policy Discourses of University Women’s Commissions 12. Policy Discourse Analysis: Limits and Possibilities. Appendix A: University Women’s Commission Official Reports used as Primary Data Sources. Appendix B: Institutional Contexts of University Women’s Commissions. Appendix C: Summary of Codes and Subcodes of Policy Discourse Analysis Study of University Women’s Commission Reports

About the Author

Elizabeth J. Allan is Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Higher Education at the University of Maine.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Education

This series aims to present the latest research from right across the field of education. It is not confined to any particular area or school of thought and seeks to provide coverage of a broad range of topics, theories and issues from around the world.

Please send inquiries or proposals for this series to one of the following:

Will Bateman: [email protected] – Editor, UK and Rest of World

Elsbeth Wright: [email protected] – Editor, North & South America

Vilija Stephens: [email protected] – Editor, Australia & New Zealand

Katie Peace: [email protected] – Publisher, Asia


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies