Professor of Gender and Education, Lancaster University

My research explores aspects of gender and education. Questions I investigate include: how do learner and gender identities intersect? What motives 'laddish' behaviours? What are the advantages and disadvantages of single-sex and co-educational schools or classrooms? How do fears operate in education, and with what effects? Why is 'effortless achievement' so appealing, and is it gendered?

My research is guided by an overarching interest in gender issues in education, with particular interests in fears of failure, constructions and performances of 'laddish' masculinities and femininities, and single-sex and mixed-sex learning environments. I have undertaken various projects on boys' and girls' motives for 'laddish' behaviours in secondary schools, leading to several articles and a book - 'Lads' and 'Ladettes' in School: Gender and a Fear of Failure, published by Open University Press. This was awarded first prize for books published in 2006 by the Society for Educational Studies (SES). I edited a book (with Carrie Paechter and Emma Renold) entitled Girls and Education 3-16: Continuing Concerns, New Agendas, that was published in January 2010 by Open University Press. I am currently researching and publishing on fear in education, and also 'laddism' in higher education. I have just completed two projects. The first explored 'laddism' among university sports science students funded by the Society for Educational Studies (with Steve Dempster, Lancaster University and Lucie Pollard, Greenwich). The second was funded by the SRHE (with Vanita Sundaram, University of York) and entitled 'Are 'lad cultures' a problem in Higher Education? Exploring the perspectives and responses of HEI Staff'. We are currently writing a book from this project to be published by Routledge in 2018.

I am currently working on a project funded by the Swedish Research Council entitled 'Staging the successful student in higher education' with Anne-Sofie Nystrom and Minna Salminen Karlsson (Uppsala University, Sweden). This project explores constructions of student identities and wellbeing in highly competitive degree programmes - Law, Medicine, Engineering Physics - in Sweden and England.

I have also conducted research on the PhD examination process in Britain and published (with Penny Tinkler, 2004) The Doctoral Examination Process: A Guide for Students, Examiners and Supervisors (Open University Press).


  • –present
    Professor of Educational Research, Lancaster University