A Lacanian Ideology Critique of Gender in Mathematics Education

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Virginia Tech


In this study I employ Lacanian psychoanalysis and ideological criticism to analyze the development of "gender and mathematics" research over the past fifty years. This study is motivated by the original Marxist-Lacanian claim by Valerie Walkerdine in the 1980s that women's relationship with mathematics must always be considered as fundamentally problematic, and by the complex and often contradictory claims that are made in research artifacts that report on this topic. Many approaches to this topic that focus on "closing the gender gap" or aiming for "gender equity" warrant an ideological critique to situate these motivations within the political realm of mathematics education research. Artifacts analyzed in this study were gleaned from a comprehensive electronic library search of over 600 entries, where 178 were retained as yield. A complete ideological critique was performed on a subset of these. Findings include (1) historical alignment of the ideologies evidenced in the research with the ideological influences of the political situation at the time of publication, including scientism, neoliberalism, evolutionism, and solutionism, (2) the ideology of interpellationism which indicates the role of scientific ways of knowing in capitalist political economy, and (3) theoretical foundations of what I call the feminine-quilted-speech indicate how at the present moment in the field, we have the opportunity to shift the ideological underpinnings of research on gender and mathematics. The study avows the role of gender as an agent of capitalist accumulation in school mathematics, through a notion I develop called the masculine-quilted-speech.



Lacan, psychoanalysis, gender, mathematics education, ideology critique