Hearing, policing, and using gender diversity: the role of institutional gatekeepers in researching youth and gender
This article comprises a critical reflection on our experiences of recruiting participants and organising focus groups through institutional gatekeepers for research about young people and changing gendered landscapes. We show how reflections on the research process can give (inadvertent) substantive insight into how gender is interpreted by gatekeepers in institutions – that is, gender as only about or for certain young people; gender as something to be contained by the institutional logics of equality and diversity; and how ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ views of gender diversity were understood through the nationalisation and racialisation of the student body. Crucially, we also trace how these institutional interpretations of gender diversity had epistemological consequences for the kinds of knowledge we were able to generate in the focus groups with young people, as meanings were re-framed and contested, and we were funnelled down particular routes. Furthermore, the article discusses how the act of research itself was leveraged by some institutions as institutional diversity capital and/or as part of classed enrichment agendas, highlighting new dimensions to both the co-option of research and the ‘doing’ of diversity work by institutions. Overall, the article provides empirical insight on gender and gender diversity in education and youth settings, and also key methodological insight into the social constitution of ‘Knowledge’ through gatekeeping, recruitment, and access.