The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 237–253 | Cite as

Challenging the pervasiveness of hypermasculinity and heteronormativity in an all-boys’ school

  • Chris Hickey
  • Amanda Mooney


There is a rich, albeit chequered, history around single-sex schooling providing an educational option for nurturing the particular educational interests and needs of boys. While all-boys’ schools continue to position themselves at the forefront of contemporary masculine endeavour, they are simultaneously forced to fend off accusations that they are proverbial hot beds for the reproduction of gendered hegemony. Whereas some boys’ schools appear content with their ‘masculine’ profile, others appear more eager to present themselves as projecting tolerant and inclusive environments wherein respectful gender relations are actively encouraged. Situated within a wider case study, this paper examines how one all-boys’ school sought to foster gender inclusivity through a strategic initiative to increase the number of female teaching staff and the appointment of a female deputy principal. The data presented here focus on qualitative research interviews undertaken with key members of staff around 5 years after the initiative was introduced to the school. Our interpretation of the data draws largely on selected works of Michel Foucault to explore the discourse-power relations that sustain enduring hypermasculine and heteronormative values within the school. This lens provides a framework to interrogate how gendered constructions of professional identity are framed within such a context, and the spaces that exist for them to be challenged.


Boys’ schooling Hypermasculinity Heteronormativity Culture change 


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Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education, Faculty of Arts and EducationDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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