Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 523–529 | Cite as

Gender performativity in physics: affordances or only constraints?

  • Anna T. Danielsson
  • Mattias Lundin


In this forum we engage in a dialogue with Allison Gonsalves’s paper ‘“Physics and the girly girl—there is a contradiction somewhere”: Doctoral students’ positioning around discourses of gender and competence in physics’. In her paper Gonsalves uses a sociocultural approach to examine women doctoral students’ stories about becoming physicists. In doing so her paper focuses on how discourses of masculinity and femininity can create available and unavailable positions for the women students. In this dialogue we do a parallel reading of two of the student narratives presented by Gonsalves, using Judith Butler’s (1990) concept of discursive agency as a means to more explicitly bring the affordances for women identity constitution offered by their localized physicist context to the fore, rather focusing on its, often more visible, constraints.


Physics Gender Doctoral students Identity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Department of EducationUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Linnaeus UniversityVäxjöSweden

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