Selective Bibliography on Gender in the Classroom - National Council of Teachers of English

Selective Bibliography on Gender in the Classroom with Emphasis on Gender and Media Literacy

Note:  Documentaries are recommended as both teacher and classroom resources, but teachers should watch them to determine the appropriateness for their particular teaching contexts.

Arnot, M. (2002). Cultural reproduction: The pedagogy of sexuality. In Reproducing
gender? Essays on educational theory and feminist  
(p. 40-54). London: Routledge-Falmer.

Cultural reproduction of class and sexual identity results from a deep unconscious process according to Bourdieu. Internalization of a domestic division of labor is mediated through family and school; reproduction of male dominance happens through recognition of the sexual nature of the authority of teachers at different levels of school. Constructs that define gender or represent sexuality are the product of class and sexual struggle within the context of historically specific power relations.

Berry, D. C., and Duke, B. (Directors/Producers). (2012). Dark Girls [Documentary]. Duke Media.

This documentary examines the experiences of dark-skinned women worldwide, examining prejudices and intersections between race and class through personal stories.

Blaise, M. (2009). “‘What a girl wants, what a girl needs’: Responding to sex, gender, and sexuality in the early childhood classroom.” Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 23(4), 450-460.

By talking and interacting, small children continuously construct, resist, and change their notions of gender and heterosexual discourses regarding power and hidden rules about which forms of gender are considered right or wrong. Teachers advance this process by questioning children’s current understandings of the appropriateness of particular acts and performances of masculinity and femininity and by providing opportunities for debate.

Chittenden, T. (2010). “Digital dressing up: Modeling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere.” Journal of Youth Studies, 13 (4), 505-520.

Teen fashion bloggers express and shape identity by writing, reading, and commenting on blogs, thus blogging has become a critical activity of trading cultural and social capital.

Cox, L. (Producer). (2014). The T Word [Documentary]. MTV.  Available from

In this documentary, Laverne Cox, of Orange Is the New Black, explores the lives of seven transgender youth. The documentary examines the impact of different levels of parental support, the ways race and gender identity intersect, and common experiences faced by the youth, including coming out, dating, and dealing with bullying.

DePalma, R., and Atkinson, E. (2009). “‘Permission to talk about it’: Narratives of
sexual equality in the primary classroom.” Qualitative Inquiry, 15 (5), 876-892.

Narratives based on interviews with teachers are scripted in a play designed to enact cultural change during public performance by creating “new imaginaries and in-between spaces” that eventually lead to simple visibility. When a marginalized group begins to challenge society’s expectation that they will remain invisible and silent, they are faced with a choice between invisibility and a place where their presence seems excessive. Characters in the play, identified in terms of gender, sexual identity, and professional position instead of pseudonym — are in personal, constructed dialogue with audiences they expect will hear and judge their actions and values.

Douglas, S. J. (2010). Enlightened sexism: The seductive message that feminism’s
work is done.
 Geneva, IL: Holt McDougal.

Pop culture suggests women can dress however they want and enjoy success and equity in the workplace; however, this portrayal of women actually reveals embedded sexist mechanisms meant to keep women in their place.

Flewitt, R. S., Nind, M., and Payler, J. (2009). “‘If she’s left with books she’ll just eat them’: Considering inclusive multimodal literacy practices.” Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 9 (2), 211-233.

A four-year-old girl with special learning needs uses range of shared sign systems during literacy events, benefiting from the use of multiple modes of communication that include gesture, gaze, movement, body language, words, and vocalizations. Viewed as embedded in social practices instead of as acquired skills affords interaction with peers and supportive adults in open, interactive spaces in which identity as learner is relevant.

Garcia, A. M., and Slesaransky-Poe, G. (2010). “The heteronormative classroom: Questioning and liberating practices.” The Teacher Educator, 45, (4), 244-256.

Children with gender-variant behaviors and interests represent healthy expressions on a gender continuum, not alternative or pathogenic forms of masculinity or femininity. To support this expression, teachers need to review their own constructions of gender, ways they or their curriculum may privilege heterosexuality: false male-female duality may surface in their language and processes or expectations in class may be less than inclusive without their having realized it. Educators further ensure a safe environment by teaching young children catchy phrases to interrupt gender bullying.

Giles, D. C., and Close, J. (2008). “Exposure to ‘lad magazines’ and drive for muscularity in dating and non-dating young men.” Personality and Individual Differences, 44, (7), 1610-1616.  

A shift in popular body image is credited to an increase in men’s fitness magazines and to preoccupation with celebrity lifestyle culture.

Haggerty, M., and Mitchell, L. (2010). “Exploring curriculum implications of multimodal literacy in a New Zealand early childhood setting.” European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 18, (3), 327-339.

Better suited to some tasks than others, verbal, visual, and spatial-motoric literacy modes facilitate communication and learning even in combination. Kindergarteners benefit from curriculum when parents reveal funds of knowledge and favorite literacy modes.

Hartman, P. (2006). “‘Loud on the inside’: Working class girls, gender, and literacy.”  Research in the Teaching of English, 41, (1), 82-117.

This article explores the literacy practices of a group of white working-class girls who successfully navigated their high school’s English curriculum and investigates (1) how gender and class influence their uses of literacy in the classroom and (2) how they use texts from English class to construct gender.

Kellerman, S. (2013, May 3). Sam Kellerman: Understanding the complexities of
gender [Video File]. Retrieved from YouTube.

In this Ted Talk, Kellerman explains, in often humorous ways, the differences among biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression.

Kilbourne, J. (Director). (2010). Killing Us Softly 4 [Documentary]. Cambridge Documentaries. 

In the most recent version of a documentary series begun in 1979, Jean Kilbourne explores the continued detrimental effects of the portrayal of women in print and television advertising. She considers issues such as body size; masculinity; and the objectification, powerlessness, and infantalization of women in advertising.

Lamb, L. M., Bigler, R. S., Liben, L. S., and Green, V. A. (2009). “Teaching children to
confront peers’ sexist remarks: Implications for theories of gender development and educational practice,” Sex Roles, 61, (5-6), 361-382.

School climate for gender-nontraditional children improved and girls’ gender-typing
of others decreased when elementary-school boys and girls five to ten years of age
learned to challenge peers’ sexist remarks.

Luckman, S. (1999). “(En)gendering the digital body: Feminism and the Internet.” Hecate, 25,(2), 36-48.

Cyberfeminist challenge to male-centered Internet culture is open communication model.

Marshall, E., and Sensoy, Ozlem (Eds.). (2011). Rethinking popular culture and media. 
Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.

This book helps educators to get students to think critically re consumption, competition, hierarchy, sexism, homophobia, racism, and contempt for equality promoted by corporate interests. Explores race, class, gender, sexuality, and social history in pop culture and media.

Media Education Foundation (Producer) and Jhally, Sut (Director). (1999). Killing Us Softly 3(DVD). (Available from California Newsreel, Order Department, P.O. Box 2284, South Burlington, VT 05407-2284)

Jean Kilbourne reveals images of women in alcohol and tobacco ads gathered over 20 years and devastating effects that have resulted. 34 minutes in length. Study guide available (Media Education Foundation, 60 Masonic St., Northampton, MA 01060).

Meyer, E. J. (2009). Gender, bullying, and harassment: Strategies to end sexism and homophobia in schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

This book describes the results of a study examining teachers’ perceptions of their own and their schools’ responses to gendered bullying and harassment. It details the factors identified by teachers as influencing their work to stop bullying and harassment, and offers a series of case studies to illustrate the legal expectations to which the courts have held schools and teachers regarding responses to bullying and harassment.

Miller, M. K., and Summer, A. (2007). “Gender differences in video game characters’ roles, appearances, and attire as portrayed in video game magazines.” Sex Roles, 57, (9-10), 733-742.

Gender-role stereotypes presented in video games influence self-concept in young people, especially females. Depicted as attractive sex objects, female characters are ill-equipped to take on opponents. Skilled and equipped, male characters are seen as heroic. Both female and male game players seek to emulate game characters. Damaged self-esteem and eating disorders have been known to result. Characters in Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo are discussed based on gender performance.

Miller, sj. (2016). Teaching, affirming, and recognizing trans and gender creative youth: A queer literacy framework. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Miller, sj. (2015). “A queer literacy framework promoting (a)gender and (a)sexuality self-determination and justice.” English Journal, 104, (5), 37-44.

Miller, sj. & Gilligan, J. (2014). Heteronormative harassment: Queer bullying and gender non-conforming students. In Carlson, D., and Meyer, E. (Eds.), Handbook of gender and sexualities in education (p. 217-229). New York: Peter Lang.  

Miller, sj. (2014). Moving an anti-bullying stance into schools: Supporting the identities of transgender and gender variant youth. In Steinberg, S., and Ibrahim, A. (Eds.), Critical youth studies reader (p. 161-171). New York: Peter Lang. 

Miller, sj. (2014). Hungry like the wolf: Gender non-conformity in young adult literature. In Hill, C. (Ed.). The critical merits of young adult literatureComing of age (p. 55- 72). New York: Routledge.

sj Miller uses the young adult text Liar, by Justine Larbalestier, to help teachers better understand gender non-conforming adolescent experiences.  By establishing a context surrounding the somewhat fantastical life of Micah, a part-wolf teenager, Miller explains how teachers can create and sustain and environment where gender variant teens can thrive.

Miller, sj. (2013). “Shifting the tide of bullying through teacher education: Tools for the classroom.” In Miller, sj, Burns, L., and Johnson, T.S. (Eds.), Generation BULLIED 2.0: Prevention and intervention strategies for our most vulnerable students (p. 147-182). New York: Peter Lang. 

This piece provides a toolbox of strategies for secondary teachers and teacher educators that will reduce and even eliminate social inequities such as unequal access, unequal opportunity to learn, and unfairly biased with regard to race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, age, appearance, and ability. The chapter’s toolbox of strategies includes literature, lesson plans, websites, and activities that give any teacher or teacher educator a starting point to help stop unfair bullying in any school or academic community.

Miller, sj, Burns, L., and Johnson, T.S. (2013). Generation BULLIED 2.0. Prevention and intervention strategies for our most vulnerable students. New York: Peter Lang. 

Miller, sj. (2009). (Dis)Embedding gender diversity in the preservice classroom.  In Steinberg, S. (Ed.), Diversity and multiculturalism: A reader (p. 193-209). New York: Peter Lang.

This chapter argues that teacher education must address gender diversity and offers resources for doing so, including lists and descriptions of suggested activities, discussions, and approaches in both K-12 and teacher education classrooms, and listed resources (such as terms, YA literature, and bands with gender-fluid people).

Miller, sj. (2016). Reading YAL queerly: A queer literacy framework for inviting (a)gender and (a)sexuality self-determination and justice. In Carlson, D., and Linville, D. Beyond borders: Queer eros and ethos (ethics) in LGBTQ young adult literature (pp. xx-xx). New York: Peter Lang.

Miller, s. (2016). Queer literacy framework. In Brockenbrough, E., Ingrey, J., Martino, W., and Rodriquez, N. (Eds.). Queer studies and education: Critical concepts for the 21st century. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Morrell E., and Duncan-Andrade, J. (2002). “Toward a critical classroom discourse:
Promoting academic literacy through engaging hip-hop culture with urban youth.” English Journal, 91, (6), 88-94.   

Recognizing and confronting oppressive practices, critical teaching of pop culture actually helps students to acquire and develop literacies needed to deconstruct dominant narratives and work toward a more egalitarian and inclusive society.

Myers, K., and Raymond, L. (2010). “Elementary school girls and heteronormativity:
The girl project.” Gender and Society, 24, (2), 167-188.

This article is based on a grounded theory study of groups of preadolescent (ages 5-11) girls. The study looked at the way they co-constructed heteronormativity, or the ways in which heterosexual behaviors and interests among young girls are taken for granted and seen as normal. Through a series of interviews, the girls discussed interests ranging from television shows to music to interactions between boys and girls. The findings indicate that girls created heterosexual norms as a group on all subjects.

Newsom, J.S. (2015). The Mask You Live In [Documentary]. The Representation

This documentary examines the pressures faced by boys and men in the United State regarding masculinity. The documentary argues that these pressures are detrimental to boys and men, and suggests ways in which we can respond.

Newsom, J. S. and Acquaro, K. (Directors). (2011). Miss Representation [Documentary]. The Representation Project. 

This documentary explores sexism in society and the media, drawing on interviews from teenage girls, social scientists, and celebrities such as Katie Couric, Condoleezza Rice, and Rachel Maddow. The documentary offers a critique of the portrayal of women in powerful positions within the media and suggests steps to take for change.

No Outsiders Project Team (2010). Undoing homophobia in primary schools. Sterling, VA: Trentham Books.

Primary teachers describe how they challenge norms and silences around sexual orientation and gender expression that marginalize LGBT people and their families and subject them to discrimination and embedded homophobia in England. Greater equality and social justice clearly result from planned curriculum innovation, policy development, and critical turning points in lessons enacted by thoughtful teachers.

Orenstein, P. (2011). Cinderella ate my daughter: Dispatches from the front lines of the new girlie-girl culture. New York: HarperCollins.

Numerous pitfalls for girls are discussed with a sense of humor: marketing schemes of the “Disney princess brand” and “pink explosion” of products marketed toward girls. The pattern of teen-icon role models who move from wholesome to whoresome is described.

Pinar, W. (2004). What is curriculum theory? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Politicians have taken control of curriculum, conversation between students and teachers about the past and its implications for the world today, by making teachers accountable for students’ accomplishments through standardized testing. Such rote and passive learning deprives students of opportunities to think critically. Democratization of liberal culture, the historic mission of American education, has been abandoned. Teachers must educate the public and resist the anti-intellectualism in public education if they are to raise a generation wise enough to resist a lie when it is offered and recover curriculum.

Polak, M. (2007).  “‘I think we must be normal…there are too many of us for
this to be abnormal!!!’: Girls creating identity and forming community in pro-Ana/Mia websites.” In Weber, S. and Dixon, S. (Eds.), Growing up online: Young people and digital technology (p. 81-94). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

ProAna/Mia websites combine guidelines and recovery narratives for girls who want to maintain a disordered eating lifestyle. As a forum, websites have potential to be a positive catalyst for those seeking help in overcoming their disease.  Girls experience empathy and build community when expressing themselves through poetry, images, and writing.

Pough, G. D. (2004). Check it while I wreck it: Black womanhood, hip-hop culture, and the public sphere. Holliston, MA: Northeastern.

Hip-hop valued for potential to remove stereotypes of women in Black and pop cultures.

Pozner, J. L. (2010). Reality bites back: The troubling truth about guilty pleasure TV. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Far from being simple “guilty pleasure,” reality TV actually promotes cultural biases re gender, race, class, sexuality, and consumerism — and shapes perceptions of who we are.

Sears, J. T. (1999). “Teaching queerly: Some elementary propositions.” In Letts IV, W. J., and Sears, J. T. (Eds.), Queering elementary education: Advancing the dialogue about sexualities and schooling (p. 3-14). Lanham, MD:  Rowman and Littlefield.

Queering elementary education means creating classrooms that challenge categorical thinking, promote interpersonal intelligence, and foster critical consciousness. Teachers model honesty, civility, authenticity, integrity, fairness, and respect, bracketing the simplest classroom activities in which sexual identities are routinely equated with sexual acts to privilege the heterosexual condition and presume sexual destinies. Queer teachers develop curricula and pedagogy that afford every child dignity rooted in self-worth and esteem for others and ask what factors contribute to the homophobia and heterosexism that make it so difficult for a child to cope with his or her sexual orientation.

Siegel, M., Kontovourki, S., Schmier, S., and Enriquez, G. (2008). “Literacy in motion: A case study of a shape-shifting kindergartener.” Language Arts86, (2), 89-98.

Children move across multiple modalities and identities and quickly read the text of classroom power to sort out who and what counts as literate.  Because they do, teachers need to recognize more than a single literacy at school, expand ways to name strategies noted, and include changing texts and practices already a part of students’ worlds.

Schiller, G., Scogliotti, J., Baus, J., and Hunt, D. (Directors). (2010). Before and After Stonewall[Documentary]. First Run Features.

This two-part documentary reveals the history of the gay community and the gay rights movement in the United State before and after the New York City Stonewall Riots that marked a turning point in that movement. The first part is narrated by Rita Mae Brown, and the second part by Melissa Etheridge.

Unlusoy, A., de Haan, M., Leseman, P. M., and van Kristum, C. (2010). “Gender differences in adolescents’ out-of-school literacy practices.” Computers and Education, 55, (2), 742-751.

The shift to multimodal media for seventh grade girls in the Netherlands was more balanced across modalities and more often for educational purposes than was the shift for boys.

Walkerdine,V. (2006). “Playing the game: Young girls performing femininity in video game play.” Feminist Media Studies, 6, (4), 519-537.

Fighting, killing, winning, and competing to play video games, girls eight to eleven negotiate complex contemporary performances of masculinity. Problematic is maintenance of femininity by displaying care, concern, and sensitivity during performances of masculinity to become a successful player. Being a girl concurrently in gaming positions requires a female to disavow any desire for control, authority, and self-interest.

Walsh, C. S. (2006). Disrupting girls in virtual communities of practice: Discursive performativity as agency, in AARE 2006: Conference papers, abstracts, and symposia, AARE, Melbourne, Vic., 1-9.

Adolescent girls employ a form of linguistic agency or “discursive agency” that challenges/resists patriarchy by making use of a wide range of multimodal design practices often unavailable in print-dominated classrooms.

Weber, B. R. (2009). Makeover TV: Selfhood, citizenship, and celebrity. Durham, NC:
Duke University Press.

To cultivate selves who compete in the global marketplace, persons must be prepared to give up considerable power. Transformation themes include a flawed “inner me” that needs an intervention to release a beautiful, idealized self. Appearance may block how others “read” authentic person; a disconnect between persona and inner being also warrants a change.

Wohlwend, K. E. (2009). “Damsels in discourse: Girls consuming and producing identity texts through Disney Princess play.” Reading Research Quarterly, 44, (1), 57-84.

Kindergartners rewrote familiar plots and subtly altered character roles to take up more empowered identity positions when repeatedly enacting film texts associated with Disney Princess dolls. They drew upon media knowledge and valued school literacy practices.

Welbourn, M. P., and Kee, D. W. (2010). “Henry the nurse is a doctor too: Implicitly examining children’s gender stereotypes for male and female occupational roles.” Sex Roles, 62, (9-10), 670-683.

Masculine and feminine gender roles appear to be converging for women but not for men; children’s gender role stereotypes are more restrictive for males and evaluations of gender-norm violations more negative for males. Men haven’t moved into traditionally female occupations at the rate women have moved into traditionally masculine ones, nor have young male students been encouraged to engage in more female activities or occupations.  Teachers can encourage boys to aspire to be what they want to be to engage in both masculine and feminine roles without negative social consequences. Also, teachers need to continue to work for more equal representation of occupations instead of allowing students to believe traditionally female occupations have lower value.