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In this paper, we draw on pro-feminist, anti-essentialist espistemological and theoretical frameworks, in conjunction with adopting autoethnographic narratives, both to provide critical insight into and contextualize the particular testimony and witnessing of our own personal involvement in the gendering of a government-commissioned research project on boys’ education. The research project was undertaken in a politically volatile environment, when the ‘what about the boys?’ debate was at its zenith in Australia. As pro-feminist men attempting to ameliorate some of the negative impacts of the boys’ debate, whilst contributing to the new sociology of masculinities field, we had to negotiate a complex gender politics operating within the bureaucracy, including aligning with allies, to undertake this research in ways that remained honest to our own politics and the research evidence we collected. Our experiences and negotiation of the gendered and politicized relationships between the bureaucrats who commissioned the research and us as researchers constitute the foci of this paper. The paper demonstrates the ways in which doing research produces a ‘set of findings’ beyond those that are the subject of the research questions. The approach adopted in the research rejected ‘epistemological innocence’ by making evident our own ‘positionalities’ and in so doing demonstrates the ways in which this research was socially framed, managed and contested and tells us much about the topic of the research and about the gendering of research.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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