At the 8th International Gender and Education Association Conference in Exeter this year GEA was delighted to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Professor Tuula Gordon. Although Tuula was unable to be at the conference to receive the award in person, her friend and colleague Professor Elina Lahelma collected it on Tuula’s behalf. Below, Elina maps out some of Tuula’s many contributions to the field of gender and education.
Tuula Gordon is a Finnish sociologist and feminist researcher who has conducted ground breaking work within the field of gender and education. She has been a pioneer in Finland in bringing perspectives on gender and difference into studies of education and sociology of education. She has been very active within the Gender and Education Association: she acted as Finland’s regional representative, gave a key note speech at a GEA International Conference, and organized the Association’s first interim conference in Helsinki in 2004. She has also been an international consultant for the Gender and Education Journal.
Tuula moved to London in the early 1970s and undertook her Masters at the LSE and her doctorate at the Institute of Education in 1984. She returned in 1987 to Finland, where research on gender and education was then taking first steps. She was the key person in building a national network on gender and education research, currently called EDI (Education and Difference) which has been the most important Finnish network in the field.
Exploring the impact of gender has been fundamental to Tuula’s research, which has included studies of the position of girls and boys in schools, and youth transitions. Questions relating to ethnicity and nationality have also been central to her studies. From the very beginning, Tuula’s research has been international and visible. She has conducted research in relation to education, single women and feminist mothers in Finland, Britain and the USA (California). She has also conducted important work in developing and teaching feminist ethnography and life history methodologies; her work is interdisciplinary. She has worked as a dedicated and supportive supervisor with more than twenty doctoral candidates. She has published extensively – including 10 authored or edited books – and has led several major research projects.
Tuula has worked as senior lecturer, researcher, fellow, associate professor and professor at the Universities of Joensuu, Tampere and Helsinki. During 1997-2001 she was professor and first Head of Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Tampere. In 2010 Tuula retired, because of health problems, from her post of professor of sociology, University of Helsinki.
For more information see the autobiographical piece that Tuula produced for GEA’s (2007) newsletter