The construction of gender in literacy

Barbara J. Guzzetti, Katina Zammit

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we describe how gender has been treated in research that examines literacy as a cognitive achievement or performance (e.g., Reilly, 2012), as well as a social or sociocultural practice (e.g., Gee, 1992; Street, 1996). We begin with an overview of research on gender and sexuality by problematizing the social models and considering how the discourses of education can reproduce stereotypical, heteronormative binary gendered identities. We then examine how educational discourse and practices influence the engagement of males and females in literacy, critiquing gender differences in literacy assessments and their interpretation. In the next section, we discuss gender as an influence on literacy achievement, and present and critique results of national and international survey research reports of literacy achievement and engagement analyzed and compared by gender. We then examine literacy as a social practice utilizing research conducted from the perspective of literacy as a social or sociocultural practice (Gee, 1992; Street, 1996), considering gender and literacy practices of those who identify as female, male and beyond the binary. We close by identifying gaps in the literature on gender and literacy and suggesting directions for future inquiries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Education
Subtitle of host publicationFourth Edition
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780128186299
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Femininities
  • Gender
  • Gender binaries
  • Gender differences
  • LGBTQ+
  • Literacy
  • Literacy achievement
  • Masculinities
  • Transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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