(Re)Interpreting Pygmalion: Understanding the Disciplinary Race/Gender Gap in US Middle Schools

Spring 2012
  • Graduate
Natalee Bauer
(Re)Interpreting Pygmalion: Understanding the Disciplinary Race/Gender Gap in US Middle Schools

My research looks at the raced/gendered discrepancies in middle school disciplinary trends, and how these interactions are both informing and informed by student and teacher racialized identities.  I am interested not
only in the construction of black masculinity through disciplinary policies and practices, but more specifically I look at the unacknowledged reason behind such construction: the discursive co-construction of ideological
whiteness through white femininity/females (given that 70-80% of all school teachers are white women). I argue that it is not important that students see schools as a site of whiteness (cf. Fordham & Ogbu and Prudence Carter),
but rather that teachers understand schools as a site for whiteness. Further, I complicate the categorical binaries by looking at those who fall outside of the dichotomies of male/female and white/nonwhite, those who occupy a liminal territory– gender queer, perhaps even “race queer” or “racially transgressive.”  For example, I look at students who are disciplined excessively due to their embodiment of masculinity despite being female, and teachers who enact and perform whiteness despite their phenotypic markers of nonwhiteness. From this vantage point I ask how teachers can interrupt the sociocultural reproduction of raced/gendered inequities through a practice of critical self-reflection and active disassociation from their inherent positions of power and privilege.