Theses Doctoral

Transient Tapestries: International School Teachers' Readings of Gender and Womanhood

Mitchem, Melissa Christine

International schools have proliferated globally since the second half of the twentieth century to meet the demands of a global mobile community and of families seeking an education in English for young people. While research on international schools has accompanied this growth, few studies have explored gender dynamics at international schools, which bring together diverse students, families, teachers, administrators, and staff. This study explored how four white women teachers at an international school in Morocco read womanhood and gender in different social locations.

Employing feminist concepts and theories such as nomadic subjectivity, transnational feminism, and postfeminism, I produced a narrative ethnography of their readings through interviews, journals, and a focus group over the course of the 2020-2021 school year. Individual narratives reveal how the four women teachers engaged gendered discourses divergently, with two participants leaning towards postfeminist ideas of gender equality and individual empowerment and the other two participants highlighting the gender inequities they perceived in their lives. I also looked across all participants to explore their shared experiences as white, foreign-hire women teachers, which included a superficial belonging in Moroccan communities outside of the international school and readings of gender and womanhood shaped by structures such as whiteness and coloniality. This study offers a needed perspective on gender dynamics in international schools as experienced by teachers and also suggests the importance of location and culture in studies on women, gender, and teaching.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Teaching of Social Studies
Thesis Advisors
Schmidt, Sandra
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 8, 2023