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Managing masculinities: heads of construction in Further Education

Managing masculinities: heads of construction in Further Education

Page, Damien (2013) Managing masculinities: heads of construction in Further Education. In: British Educational Research Association Conference 2013, 2-5 Sep 2013, Brighton, UK.

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At first glance, the building site could not be more different to a Further Education college. Construction is ‘tough’ work, ‘real’ work, a hyper-masculine environment that foregrounds physical strength, risk-taking and crude, often discriminatory humour. Further Education, on the other hand, is often positioned as a caring environment, a context of emotional labour (Leach, 2011), inclusivity and diversity (Williams, 2008). Yet for all the points of incongruence, congruence may also exist, especially in terms of organisational masculinities (Collinson and Hearn, 2001), embedded as much within the management practices of FE as the physicality of the building site. Against this background, this paper presents the findings from research involving Heads of Construction (HoCs) within FE as they manage the transition and performance of construction lecturers. The theoretical framework draws on studies of gender identity and masculinities within various industries as well as studies of career transitions in both the private sector and education. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews with 14 HoCs that focused on the backgrounds of the participants, their own transition and their experiences of managing often large and complex schools.

The findings highlight the issues of ‘cultural transfer’ as new lecturers struggle to adapt to the teaching role and leave behind the educationally incongruous norms of the building site such as sexism and homophobia. However, while some characteristics of blue-collar masculinity are left behind, others are desirable within colleges such as competitiveness and entrepreneurialism, central to institutional survival in the contemporary educational marketplace, especially in times of austerity. Heads of Construction are therefore charged with managing this re-articulation of masculinity for the benefit of the school, the college and their learners: the competitiveness of their teams was exploited to reach organisational targets; entrepreneurialism was encouraged to exploit links with industry to create new income streams. As such, the paper highlights the centrality of middle managers to the successful transition of vocational lecturers from industry to education as well as their influence upon the formation of the teacher-identity within a reconstructed community of practice.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: Presented as part of strand: Leadership & management in education
Uncontrolled Keywords: Further Education, construction teachers, organisational masculinities, managerialism, competitiveness, entrepreneurialism, vocational teachers
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Education > Department of Education & Community Studies
School of Education
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Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:25

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