Gender, Learning and Social Practice
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- Nielsen, K. Vocations and Learning (2008) 1: 173. doi:10.1007/s12186-008-9010-5
The aim of this paper is to analyse the relationship between learning and gender at the workplace, by means of an empirical study. It is argued that gendered participation is learnt at the workplace and does not constitute a ‘natural’ division. The empirical part of the paper is based on a qualitative study of a bakery in which gender and learning in vocational training are the key focus. For centuries, bakeries have been masculine workplaces. However, in recent years, the percentage of female apprentices has increased. This paper takes a situated perspective on learning and gender, by focusing on how everyday work practices influence the discourses in workplace practice, and how this affects participant perceptions of themselves. Furthermore, Holzkamp’s distinction between expansive and restrictive perspective on learning is central to understanding the role of gendered discourses. In the first part of the paper, gender is situated in the bakeries, emphasizing the historical circumstances, physical environment and economic aspects that create a specific gendered discourse. In the second part of the paper, the focus is on how various ways of learning are situated in the bakeries.