University of Cambridge > > Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term > The Development of a Masculine Gender Identity during Adolescence

The Development of a Masculine Gender Identity during Adolescence

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In 1991 I conducted research at four single sex Public boys’ boarding schools in England in order to explore the development of gender identity in Sixth Form boys. The early ‘90s was a critical point in the history of Public Schools, as the majority had become co-educational. The research asked ‘What did these few remaining single sex schools reveal about gender identity?’ The history of Public Schools recounts that they are elite patriarchal institutions of social reproduction geared for academic and social success. Boys who attend them have often been sent to boarding school since age seven: as such, boys are socialised in ‘total’ institutions, the influence of which overshadows the influence of family, females and local community in boys’ lives. The research asked: ‘What was the effect of this form of socialisation on the development of gender identity?’ A questionnaire allowed gender attitudes of the research population to be compared with boys from mixed-sex Comprehensive schools. Group interviews were conducted with boys to unearth types of prevailing masculine hegemonies at the schools. Individual life history interviews provided the framework for boys to explore the narrative of their own lives and gender identity in these settings. Findings of the research include: academic learning styles in boys; attitudes towards males and females; self –esteem and gender; class and gender; role conflict and identity, as well as emotional management.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term series.

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