9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN10 Sociology of Education

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Special Purposes / Teachers I Building I, 2E8

Equality matters: teachers┬┤ constructions of professional identities

In this paper, we explore teachers┬┤ construction of professional identities from a theoretical perspective, which draws on feminist and critical race theories. We look at how teachers discursively position themselves and are positioned by others as "professionals" and argue that "being a professional" is a contextual, societal construction, and one that is highly raced and gendered. We explore the implication of being positioned/ not positioned as such for individuals as well as for the school sector as a whole.

The focus of this particular paper is on teachers located in UK secondary schools, although our analysis resonates beyond these educational and territorial boundaries. We draw on data collected from two different projects and a corpus of over 50 semi-structured interviews with secondary school teachers: one project researching gender inequalities in the teaching profession; another project exploring the experiences of overseas-trained teachers. Both groups represent an interesting terrain for the exploration of equality matters. Traditionally, minority ethnic groups have been largely under-represented in the teaching profession in the UK. Women teachers have represented for many years now the largest component of the workforce, in the compulsory school sector, yet they are clearly under-represented in the most prestigious and rewarded posts.