Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Education




Wayne Martino

2nd Supervisor

Goli Rezai-Rashti

Joint Supervisor


Drawing from feminist post-structuralism and critical social theories, this thesis examines the significance of postfeminist and neo-liberal influences on teachers’ perspectives about gender equity and girls’ success within the context of Ontario’s high-stakes standardized testing policies and their pedagogical experiences in the classroom. The significance of this inquiry is in its capacity to contribute to further theorizing about how teachers are negotiating the changing meaning of gender equity through a neo-liberal and postfeminist lens. It also adds to the growing body of research that investigates the significance of socio-economic background with regards to girls’ achievement and participation in school and its erasure from the educational policy agenda. Seven grade nine and grade ten English teachers and literacy consultants in three public school boards across Southwestern Ontario participated in the qualitative study. Using informal semi-structured interviews, they were asked open-ended questions relating to their understandings of gender equity and success, as well as their views towards the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). Findings indicated that despite most of the participants’ willingness to disrupt or contradict negative gender stereotypes or assumptions about gender equity, they inevitably ‘repositioned’ or explained these ideas within the alluring neo-liberal and postfeminist rhetoric of choice and hard work. Conflicting and contradictory perspectives ran throughout the interview data, demonstrating how teachers are capable of agency and that they must be provided with the professional space to reflect on their practices and how they may be complicit in producing harmful and narrow gender constructions.