Unsolvable gender problems – Postfeminist discourses in the talk of future physics teachers
Other conference contribution, 2021
Physics is a field which has historically been studied by men to a larger extent than women, and it is still one of the least gender equal fields in science. In this study, we ask how future physics teachers are equipped to deal with the complex issues of gender diversity in relation to the subject of physics in their teaching practice.We use individual and group interviews with 27 future physics teachers at two large Swedish universities. We analyse the discourses invoked in talk about the problems and solutions to gender issues in physics. Three prevailing discourses are identified: Inequality in science is a thing of the past; Science and physics knowledge is neutral and thus studying it is in principle equally accessible to everyone; Secure knowledge is only possible through the methods of natural science, which renders knowledge about gender issues precarious.In combination, we see these discourses as limiting the possible ways of understanding and explaining gender issues in physics available to the future teachers. We argue that this represents a “postfeminist” understanding of the problem where “equality” is taken for granted. Our interviewees have received, and in some cases appreciated, diversity training in the pedagogy section of their teacher education. However, they remain ill-equipped to approach issues of gender and diversity in relation to the subject of physics itself. We suggest this represents a missed opportunity for physics teacher education to empower future physics teachers to address gender and diversity issues.
Pre-service Teacher Education