Considering how broad social justice is i have been specificly focusing on ‘gender’. This is an area i find myself passionate about.

If we consider recent changes in public domains such as policies, laws, and opinions have initiated discussions regarding gender and gender related topics and are now one of the most prominent cultural discourses in the world today (Smith & Smith, 2016). In spite of increased acceptance of gender nonconformity in public laws and Court rulings, such as legalising gay marriage, gender roles, the pardoning of thousands of gay men – The Alan Turing law – and equal pay, to name a few. There is still a social stigma towards individuals who express their gender in non-binary ways on both macro and micro levels (Weitzer, 2002). With this in mind I will explore gender through an identity orientated lens in an attempt to shine a light on this misconstrued topic.

Narratives, ideas and emotions regarding gender permeate nearly every aspect of our daily lives (Smith & Smith, 2016). Whether we look at the aforementioned issues of the “pay gap”, gay marriage and non-binary gender identification, this notion of gendered indifference has served to divide and categorise us throughout history (Spade & Valentine, 2010). We even have gendered consumerism regarding the roles of each gender, where boys and girls are subjected to different notions and ideas. Toys for boys seek to inspire the inner hero, the explorer, the hard worker. Whereas toys for girls focus on concepts such as beauty and motherhood (Wood & Fixmer-Oraiz, 2016). This limits people based on their gender or sexuality which has, until recently remained unchallenged, also highlights the power and reality of our collective views on gender.

One way to understand how our conceptualisations of gender, whether they be fluid, binary or other, Influence our views of the world, as well as our experiences within that world, is to start with a broader understanding of the self (Smith & Smith, 2016). The self is an undeniably multidimensional and complex concept whose layered structures reflect the multi-faceted reality of an individual’s personality and social interactions (Mead & Morris, 1934; Cooley, 1983). The many roles, groups, and situations in which we all participate merge with our own idiosyncratic, creative, and biological make up, to shape how we perceive the world, how we experience emotion, and how we behave in a world of constant social interaction (Burke & Stets, 2009). The self is an abstract concept upon which entire disciplines have been built. As such, we build from the core concepts of the multi-faceted self as a reflection of the structures of society and utilize a structural symbolic interaction framework for the self (Stryker 1980). This view sees self-meanings as directly and undeniably tied to that social structure. Gender is particularly well suited to this, as the definitions of gender have wide-ranging interrelations with social structures in a variety of different forms (Risman 2004).

The core conceptual component linking structure and the self for our social-structural frame is identity (Stryker 1980). This is because gender is one of the earliest social categories that children adhere to, children develop a conception of themselves and others as being male or female by around 2.5 years of age (Martin & Ruble, 2004; Martin et al. 2002). Recent research also suggests that as young as five years of age, transgender children in the U.S associate themselves not with their biological sex but with their expressed gender identity on both explicit and implicit measures (Olson, et al 2015). It is the tendency to categorize the self as male or female that we assert is best labelled gender identity (Martin, 2000).

Furthermore, a social-cognitive view of gender identity should not imply that biology plays no role in one’s tendency to self-categorize as either male or female (which typically but not always aligns with one’s biological sex) or one’s tendency to exhibit communal, achievement, or dominance traits and goals. Given the early age and absolute certainty with which transgendered individuals associate gender with the self in a recent U.S study (Olson, et al 2015), or evidence that girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia in the U.S. are more likely to identify with males (Pasterski, et al 2015), it is agreed that both traits and gender categories have some biological basis as Wood and Eagly (2015) also note. However, perceiving these tendencies in oneself and associating them with one’s gender identity is, at its heart, a social-cognitive process.
Moreover, the gender an individual identifies with the most is a result of thoughts, feelings, experiences etc. It is deeply associated with what that individual relates to the most, therefore, gender, in my personal opinion is more than the organs we are born with, but relies heavily on social influences experienced as the ‘self’ develops through the various developmental stages we all go through in life.


Burke, P.J. & Stets, J. E (2009). Identity theory. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cooley, C.H. (1983). Human Nature and the social order. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons.
Herbert, G.M & Morris, C.W. (1934). Mind, Self and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviourist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Martin, C. L. (2000). Gender identity. In A. E. Kazdin (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 444–448). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Martin, C. L., & Ruble, D. (2004). Children’s search for gender cues: Cognitive perspectives on gender development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13, pp. 67–70.

Martin, C. L., Ruble, D. N., & Szkrybalo, J. (2002). Cognitive theories of early gender development. Psychological Bulletin, 128, pp. 903 – 933

Risman, B.J, (2004). Gender as a social structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism. Gender and Society, 18(4), pp. 429-450.
Smith, J, & Smith, K (2016). What it Means to Do Gender Differently: Understanding Identity, Perceptions and Accomplishments in a Gendered World, Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, 38, pp. 62-78.
Spade, J.Z. & Valentine, C.G. (2011). The Kaleidoscope of Gender: Prisms, Patterns, and Possibilities, Pine Forge Press: USA.
Stryker, S. (1980). Symbolic Interactionism: A Social Structural Version. Benjamin-Cummings Publishing Company.
Weitzer, R.J. (2002). Deviance and Social Control: A Reader. 2nd Edn, McGraw-Hill: UK
Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (2015). Two traditions of research on gender identity. Sex Roles, this issue.

Wood, J.T. & Fixmer-Oraiz, N. (2016). Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, & Culture. 12th Edn, Cengage Learning: USA.



Olson, K. R., Key, A. C., & Eaton, N. R. (2015). Gender cognition in transgender children. Psychological Science, 26, pp. 467–474.

Pasterski, V., Zucker, K. J., Hindmarsh, P. C., Hughes, I. A., Acerini, C., Spencer, D., … Hines, M. (2015). Increased cross-gender identification independent of gender role behaviour in girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia: Results from a standardized assessment of 4 to 11- year-old children. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 44, pp. 1363 – 1375.


Where to start?

So I am at the very start of this journey and i’m finding myself going around and around in circles to be honest…..

I am starting to read current literature and find myself  with even more questions. I am wondering if this is normal of research and at this stage (the start) and I should not be worried. I fully understand this is a long journey.

After reading several different journals, books and articals, it’s starting to make me question my own understanding of what soical justice is and how do we define it ?

Bell 2007 states ‘social justice is both a goal and a process’.  Further more Bell (2007) continues to suggest that the goal of social justice is ‘ equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs’ (Bell 2007 p1).  I feel like this is ever more prevalant in today’s society and especially in the class room, that we as practitoners should enable participation of all groups in a lesson that is shaped to meet all pupils needs.

After reading the chaper Justice and differences in education ( chapter one in Action for Social Justice in Education, Morwenna Griffiths) Nancy Fraser’s words really stuct me (1997:187)

There is no going back to the old equality/differenece debate in the sense of an exclusive focus on any signal axis of difference. The shift from gender difference to differences among women to multiple intersecting differences’ remains an unsurpassable gain, but this does not mean we should simply forget the old debate. Rather we now need to construct a new equality/ difference debate.

This is what i intend to do with my research but i am wondering how i achieve this. I have so many ideas. I wish to move physical education from the relem of winning and building of athletes to teachers being able to fully understand their class in the way of gender, race etc without fear or lack of knowledge standing in their way. But i also wish to look at how to change what is already prevelant issues ie ‘old school heads of departments’, lack of understanding / knowledge of social justice and how to really teach a lesson with strands of social justice within it.



First blog post


So the first post….the first of many I hope. Through this Blog i’m hoping to spread my work and my views whilst gaining those of others. (Really, I have created this blog as a way of joting down my ideas in order to aid my PhD). However I would like this blog to help me grasp a wider outlook and understanding of the world and how others interpret and understand matters, so any responses and views would be fantastic as we all interpret the world differently and all see things through different lenses.

SO…. lets get down to what this Blog is going to mainly consist of ….. EDUCATION …. SOCIAL JUSTICE TOPICS and ME. When I say ME I don’t mean so much ME ME I mean me as a researcher and teacher looking at my journey and what research / literature is inspiring me.

My Phd and topic of interest is Social Justice, Gender and Pedagogy. Within this I am interested in the way in which universities are constructing courses to train PE teachers to teach PE. I have experienced this journey myself, through QTS Physical Education. I feel understanding the now ever so diverse world we live in and teach in is extremely important, to allow us as practitioners to fully achieve the best possibile outcomes for our students.

Considering this, I noted scholars have often questioned and fought to illustrate the importance of embedding equality into PE programmes (e.g. Evans,1990). It was also clear that PE is known as a masculinised field and has resulted in much inquiry into gender (in)equalities in and around the subject (Dillabough, 2006). Yet, gender has been found to have a rather peripheral place in the formal curriculum of Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) programmes and may go little beyond the uncritical acknowledgement of gender difference (Serra,Soler,Prat,Bizkarra, Garay and Flintoff, 2016) but why is this? What can change and is there need for change? These were questions I found myself wondering and this is where it all began……