n Gender and Behaviour - Deconstructing discourses of gender equality in cross-gender friendships : grade seven boys and girls in an inner-city school

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1596-9231



This article presents a study which set out to explore how children understood and experienced gender equality within their cross gender friendship groups. The participants were 28 primary school children between 11 and 14 years (male = 13; female = 15). Data collection methods were individual interviews using situated scenarios and focus groups interviews. The findings revealed that for the most part children actively constructed gender around the concept of 'difference.' The children learned how to position themselves and others according to traditional discourses of femininity and masculinity. Whilst attempts were made to challenge dominant understandings of masculinity and femininity, often these were unsuccessful. The constraints and limitations of a particular discourse ensured the continued existence of the prevailing dominant worldviews and the ensuing unequal relations between girls and boys. The study also revealed that children are continuing to learn the same lessons about gender that work against gender equality.

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