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Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

Producing Alternative 'Gender Orders': Girls and Games

The CMCE Works in Progress Seminar Series, Session 2

The Works in Progress (WiP) Seminar Series provides students and faculty with a common forum within which to theorize, discuss, and debate issues in the areas of culture, media, media literacy, representation, technology, and education. The WiP Series offers a valuable space for students and faculty to share and discuss their current work in a supportive and constructive environment.


This event is wheelchair accessible.

Thursday, January 10, 2 – 4 p.m.

OISE/University of Toronto

252 Bloor St. West, 11th Floor

Room #11-164


Dr. Jennifer Jenson, Professor, Faculty of Education, York University

and Stephanie Fisher, PhD Student, Faculty of Education, York University


Producing alternative 'gender orders': Girls and games

This presentation reports on the first two years of a three year study investigating the (re)production of) 'gender differences' in the cultivation of game development knowledge and expertise in informal learning contexts.  Expanding on our previous research on gender and game play, this project explores how hegemonic discourses of female participation in mainstream games culture are taken up by girls who want to make their own digital games in after-school clubs and summer camps. The implications of this research are timely in light of the steady increase in educational initiatives meant to orient girls towards STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) through engaging in digital game development. This work is situated at the theoretical and methodological nexus of feminist techno-science and critical pedagogy, and upholds a post-structural understanding of the constitution of gender and power as fluid and produced through/within social relations. While our game development programs are also enmeshed within the same hegemonic discursive practices that assist in the 'natural' constitution of female subjectivities in gaming as subordinate in relation to males, participants are not helpless 'victims' of subjection, but rather are active in the construction of their own subjectivities, leveraging different aspects of their 'identity' (sex, race, class, etc.), and indeed resist this discursive positioning. We offer an alternative 'work in progress' understanding of the discursive (re)production of gender-technology relations at the (broad) intersections of gaming culture, industry and education, and illustrate how critical feminist activism can contest and create 'wiggle room' to introduce non-hegemonic knowledges, perspectives and epistemologies.