Why Black girls don’t matter: exploring how race and gender shape academic success in an inner city school

Rollock, Nicola. 2007. Why Black girls don’t matter: exploring how race and gender shape academic success in an inner city school. Support for Learning, 22(4), pp. 197-202. ISSN 0268-2141 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The continued low academic attainment of Black pupils is now a well-established, familiar feature of the annual statistics of educational attainment. Black pupils tend to consistently perform below their white counterparts and below the national average. Key debates, examining how to address the difference in attainment gap, have tended to focus almost exclusively on the achievements of Black male pupils with little explicit attention paid to the needs and experiences of their female counterparts. Based on ethnographic research that explores how staff and pupils at an inner city secondary school construct academic success, this paper reveals how and why Black female pupils have become silenced in these debates. Employing a Bourdieusian framework, it is argued that while prevalent discourses on femininity serve to increase Black girls’ legitimacy in the context of dominant school discourses on academic success, those on ethnicity serve simultaneously to downgrade their legitimacy, both minimizing their opportunities for high status academic success and rendering them invisible in the debates on Black attainment.

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Black girls; exclusion; cultural capital; femininity/masculinity; achievement

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


8 November 2007Published
8 November 2007Accepted

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Date Deposited:

06 Jan 2020 12:26

Last Modified:

06 Jan 2020 12:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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