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'. A book from this project entitled 'Lad Culture in Higher Education: Sexism, Sexual Harassment and Violence' was published by Routledge in 2020.
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.