Amanda Sheehy

A teacher, whose research explored how gender equality is promoted in primary schools, is set to graduate.



Dr Amanda Sheehy did her PhD alongside teaching part-time, looking at teachers’ reflections on their own constructions of gender and the implicit messages that they may convey to pupils.

“I feel such a sense of accomplishment to be graduating,” she said. “There are plenty of milestones at various stages when undertaking doctoral research, and many moments from which to take pride but the official ceremony of graduation is an opportunity to celebrate the overall personal achievement and celebrate the skills, confidence and knowledge acquired along the way.”

Amanda has been a primary school teacher since 2006, after gaining her PGCE at Worcester. “I have, over the years, been interested in the way that pupils often seem to place restrictions on their own behaviour because of their gender,” she said. “I have worked hard to try to challenge gender stereotypes in my own school and wanted to find out more about it.”

She continued to work three days a week in school and studied part-time. Her thesis focussed on the role of primary school teachers in promoting gender equality for their pupils. She conducted interviews with 14 teachers from schools in Worcestershire and London who reflected on their own gender constructions, who and what had influenced them and how their understandings of gender might be inadvertently passed on to their pupils. She said: “Their reflections were fascinating and illuminated many of the ways we are influenced by society however, what was most striking was the powerful effect of the process of reflection itself in bringing about change in attitudes amongst educators. “

“I loved every minute of my research,” she added. “That said, undertaking a research study alongside working and managing family life through a pandemic was not without its challenges. Independent research can be a lonely business so it was good to have contact with other research students and a wonderfully supportive supervisory team.”

Since completing her PhD, Amanda has begun to share the findings of her research though academic publication. She has contributed a chapter to an edited book and had an article published in a journal, with more in the pipeline. She also shared the key findings with headteachers from schools across the county and has been invited to deliver workshops in some schools. “I intend to extend this offering in the future as it is extremely rewarding, enabling me to play a part in achieving fairer outcomes for children of all genders,” she said. “I continue to teach in a primary school where my new knowledge has enabled me to enhance my own practice and share this with my colleagues.”

She also now works as an associate lecturer at the University of Worcester and is involved in research projects.

The University’s annual autumn Graduation Ceremonies will take place as planned from September 12-14 in the beautiful and historic Worcester Cathedral, followed by celebration receptions at the City Campus. No Worcester graduates have been affected by the marking and assessment boycott.


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