A feminist analysis of educational policies related to gender equity: policy framing of gender equity in Manitoba education from 1975 to 2012

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Anderson, Heather Syme
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This study’s purpose was to examine the conceptualizations of gender equity within select Manitoba administrative policy documents related to education and the ways those conceptualizations shaped the framing of gender equity in those texts. I used feminist content analysis and critical frame analysis to examine how the discourses around gender equity change between 1975 and 2012. I used purposive selection criteria for primary document selection. This study used a directed content analysis approach (Potter & Levine-Donnerstein, 1999) that allowed use of both a priori and open coding. The a priori codes originated from the concepts highlighted in the review of the literature. Using critical frame analysis, three main frames emerged from my analysis of the annual reports that related to how the gender and equity terms appeared. These frames included (a) whether the term specifically related to gender, but not equity; equity, but not gender; or gender equity, (b) the educational arena to which the term applied; and, (c) the context in which the term was included. Finer-grained analysis of those three frames revealed two eras. The first era took place from 1975 to 1990 and reflected a time when policy attention was directed towards gender equity generally framed around the equity concerns of women and girls. The second era took place from 1991 to 2012 and reflected a time when policy attention was directed towards equity, but generally not towards gender. A feminist analysis of gender equity policy relevant texts was important to the Manitoba context because of the resurgence of gender equity as an important topic. While it is important that there is a resurgence, until policy takes aim at the socially constructed and embedded values presumed in any conceptualization of gender inequality, it is unlikely that any policy changes, sweeping or not, will affect meaningful disruptions to the gendered nature of our educational systems.
Education, Feminist policy analysis, Gender equity, Manitoba Ministry of Education, Critical frame analysis, Policy framing, Document analysis