Vaikenemisia ja vastarintaa: valtasuhteet ja toiminnan mahdollisuudet oppilaitosten tasa-arvosuunnittelussa

Translated title of the contribution: Silences and resistance : Power relations and possibilities of agency in gender equality planning in educational institution

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


This dissertation focuses on the practices of gender equality work by analysing gender equality planning (GEP) processes in upper secondary educational institutions, both general and vocational. Its aim is to analyse the practices included in gender equality work, which may, regardless of the expressed goals, have un-equalizing consequences. Different techniques of promoting equality are not neutral because they define possible ways to understand gender and equality.

The study asks what consequences instumentalized gender equality work has for educational institutions and workplaces; how the power relations function in an equality working group of a educational institution; what opportunities for agency arise for teachers and students in gender equality work; and what opportunities are offered by the drifting, nomadic approach to feminist research on gender equality work. The dissertation includes five articles and a summary chapter.

The study is framed within the critical studies of gender equality politics, studies of governmentality, feminist studies of educational practices and poststructuralist methodological discussion. The methodological approach of the study is nomadic and discursive reading. The research data consist of interviews in educational institutions that had drawn up their gender equality plans, recorded meetings of equality working groups of a vocational institution and an general upper secondary school, ethnographical notes from the group meetings and interviews with the members of the groups. In addition, it contains two national surveys (2009 and 2011) about GEP in upper secondary educational institutions.

In the case of the GEP in workplaces, the correctives of the gender equality act and the project form of GEP turns equality work into managerialist practices, which produce a quantified, statistically controllable and instumentalized understanding of equality. This is why gender equality does not easily become a political question within the practices of GEP. The study shows that the subject of GEP is expected to remain positive and have faith in its good-spirited co-operation, but on the other hand accept the fact that too many reformations cannot be demanded too quickly. In the case of the operational GEP, the guidelines emphasize the importance of the student s involvement in the process of GEP and the need for equality-skilled workers in the labour market. At the same time the discourse of GEP has not invited students to participate. The participation of students is done according to a ready-made model, which is not organized nor planned by the students themselves. The student is not the one who starts to create and shape the ways in which to put equality work into action in educational institution. She is involved and made a part of the equality planning model .

Working against the individualism of managerialist discourses, the equality working groups can offer sites for feminist resistance in the form of a sense of community. If the need to produce the paper (the gender equality plan) is put aside, new knowledge can be generated and shared through discussion. The group s co-operation is a form of resistance to managerialist practices in gender equality work that attach the activity to the individual. The paradox of feminist resistance in the context of GEP is that while the separateness of the working group may give a sense of autonomy to its members, it keeps the feminist demands unconnected from the everyday practices of educational institutions.

In the equality working group, the possibilities to refuse to undertake the tasks at hand and become a target of persuasion form the positionings for the working group members. The different possibilities to produce speech or silence in the group are analysed as an effect of power relations in the group. The becomings of the researcher and the chair of the working group occur as mutual dependence and as ever-arising possibilities between these becomings. The study suggests that the concept of a rhizome could open up new ways to consider the multidirectional change in the context of equality work. From the nomadic drifting approach research is not intended to speak on behalf of others or to resettle in others position, but to acknowledge and recognize the current positionings and create alliances together.
Translated title of the contributionSilences and resistance : Power relations and possibilities of agency in gender equality planning in educational institution
Original languageFinnish
Award date2 Sep 2016
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-951-51-2391-6
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-2392-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences

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