CFP: Intersectional approaches to educational research through a gendered lens


TITLE OF THE SPECIAL ISSUE: Intersectional approaches to educational research through a gendered lens

Guest Editors:

CONTACT PERSON: Dr Victoria Showunmi,


This Special Issue of the European Educational Research Journal is led by EERA’s Gender and Education Network, and it is on the theme of gender, intersectionality and educational research, a topic which was a focus of the Network at the 2019 ECER annual conference.  It will feature papers from early career and established researchers. 

Race, class, and gender were once seen as separate issues for members of both dominant and subordinate groups. Scholars now generally agree that these issues along with ethnicity, nation, age and sexuality and how they intersect are integral to individuals’ positions in the social world (PH Collins 2006; Arrighi 2001; Collins 1993; Cuadraz, G. H., & Uttal, L. (1999).  Ore 2000; Rothman et al.2005; Weber 2004) Scholars using the intersectional approach will socially locate individuals in the context of their ‘real lives’ (Weber 2006). They also examine how both formal and informal systems of power are deployed, maintained, and reinforced through axes of race, class and gender (Collins 1998; Weber 2006). Research using the intersectional approach broadly extends across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Understanding of the cumulative impact of structural inequalities arising from gender, race, class, disability and LGBTQI+, on educational institutions and student and staff participation, experience, and achievement within education, requires that intersectional perspectives are further developed (Fuller 2017, Showunmi 2017, Lumby 2011). Historically, critical researchers, especially feminist and race scholars, have decried the inability of the educational sector to challenge power hierarchies and undermine the dominance of white, masculine, heterosexual and ableist knowledges and practices. These  reproduce the negative intersecting effects of gender, race, class, ethnicity, disability and LGBTQI+ (hooks 1989; Abu-Lughud Soziologin 1991; Kandiyoti 2002; Narayan 1993; Skeggs 1997; Smith 2012).  However, there are a myriad of reasons why intersectional understandings have not successfully challenged the status quo.  Arguably we lack the core theories to enable us to engage with the complexity of dominant processes and develop effective transformational praxis relating to different forms of intersectionality (Abbas, Taylor and Amande-Escot, 2019). 

There are three  areas that are pertinent to transforming educational systems through intersectional approaches and where there are promising existing bodies of research to build on. They are relevant across Europe and to all educational sectors: from early years to all types of post-compulsory education. Firstly, in relation to exucational leadership, we need to increase the number of people with lived experience of combined intersectional inequalities at all levels of education. Senior positions are dominated by White men, and Black women have the lowest representation of any ethnic and gender group (Lumby 2011).   In addition, LGBTQI+ and people with disabilities are virtually invisible publically and in the research literature regarding leadership  (Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, 2017 Lee, 2020).  Secondly, a wealth of research suggests that pedagogies and curricula that are inclusive, inspiring, and representative of diverse students, their cultures, communities, and ways of knowing, are needed if future generations are to succeed in building equity from their intersecting identities and positionalities (Abbas, 2019).  Change and social justice cannot be achieved unless we understand how intersectional lenses can enrich and inform praxis. Finally, how do we understand and prevent the marginalisation of critical intersectional knowledges in research and teaching? It is important to focus inclusively on each marginalised group in the context of intersectionality. In the past, Black women, LGBTQI and those with disabilities, for example, have been neglected in relation to all of the fields we have identified.  

We would like to invite researchers, theorists and evidence-based practitioners to submit discursive papers that engage in issues regarding the development of   intersectional approaches. We are interested in papers that generate new analytical, critical and methodological perspectives. The aim is to highlight ways of combating the role of education in generating and increasing inequalities.

 The following themes are relevant:

  • Exploring the combined effects of forms of inequality in education
  • The role of curricula and pedagogies in challenging the dominance of whiteness, ableism, masculinity, cis-genderism and other structural inequalities
  • The value of broader or narrower notions of intersectionality
  • How insights into intersectionality can effectively tackle the marginalisation of critical and equalising knowledges within educational contexts
  • Intersectional approaches to gender, race, disability, sexuality, socio-economic backgroundand leadership


January 2022    


Abbas, A. (2019) ‘Tackling intersecting gender inequalities through disciplinary-based higher education curricula: A Bernsteinian approach’  in Taylor, Amade-Escot  and Abbas (eds) (2019)  Gender in Learning and Teaching: Feminist Dialogues Across International Boundaries. Routledge.

Abbas, A., Taylor, C. & Amade-Escot, C., 26 Apr 2019, Introduction: Debates across Anglophone and European Didactics traditions in Taylor, Amade-Escot and Abbas (eds)  Gender in Learning and Teaching: Feminist Dialogues Across International Boundaries. Routledge.

Arrighi, B. A. (Ed.). (2001). Understanding inequality: The intersection of race/ethnicity, class, and gender. Rowman & Littlefield.

Collins, P. H. (1993). The sexual politics of black womanhood. Violence against women: The bloody footprints, 85-104.

Collins, R. L. (1998). Social identity and HIV infection: The experiences of gay men living with HIV.

Collins, P. H. (2006). Sisters and brothers: Black feminists on womanism. The womanist reader, 57-67.

Cuadraz, G. H., & Uttal, L. (1999). Intersectionality and in-depth interviews: Methodological strategies for analyzing race, class, and gender. Race, Gender & Class, 156-186.

Fuller, K. (2017). Women secondary head teachers in England: Where are they now?. Management in Education31(2), 54-68.

Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (2017) Encouraging disabled leaders in higher education: recognising hidden talents, Stimlus Paper by Martin, N.

Lee, C. (2020) Why LGBT teachers may make exceptional school leaders, Frontiers in Sociology, 5, 2,

Weber, L., & Fore, M. E. (2007). Race, ethnicity, and health: An intersectional approach. In Handbooks of the sociology of racial and ethnic relations (pp. 191-218). Springer, Boston, MA.

Ore, T. E., & Kurtz, P. (2000). The social construction of difference and inequality. Mayfield Publishing.

Rothman, S., Lichter, S. R., & Nevitte, N. (2005, March). Politics and professional advancement among college faculty. In The Forum (Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 1-16).

Showunmi, V., & Kaparou, M. (2017). The challenge of leadership: ethnicity and gender among school leaders in England, Malaysia and Pakistan. In Cultures of Educational Leadership (pp. 95-119). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Weber, L., & Fore, M. E. (2007). Race, ethnicity, and health: An intersectional approach. In Handbooks of the sociology of racial and ethnic relations (pp. 191-218). Springer, Boston, MA.