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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 488497
Michele researches ways that ideas about gender and youth circulate in popular and institutional settings such as media texts and schools, and how these ideas shape young people’s views of themselves, their world and their imagined futures. She focuses on issues relating to girlhood and power, and is particularly interested in the ways in which such ideas are formed in the interstices between academic study and the public imaginary. She has been a pioneer in the combining of tradional research methods with digital methods that tap into young peoples' communicative pratices.
Before completing her doctorate Michele had a successful career in the Secondary education sector. She has led national teacher development programmes with regard to widening participation, and prior to that worked in a range of secondary schools. She was also a Lettrice at the University of Bari in Italy.
She undertakes consultancy work with NGOs, governments, and schools, with a focus on gender, equalities, and youth/media cultures. She has a strong commitent to widening participation in HE, and to the teaching/research nexus. She has held both ASKE and CETL teaching fellowships.
Michele has held two teaching fellowships at Brookes and has been nominated four times for the SU teaching awards. As well as modules in the undergraduate Communication, Media and Culture programme, she teaches discursive archaeologies and qualitative digital media methodologies in a range of postgraduate contexts.
At undergraduate level Michele leads the Advanced Digital Media and Youth Identities and Audiences, Users and Producers modules, and the Honours module Citizen Journalism and Civic Engagment. She also contribues to the Understanding Culture, Research Methods, Special Topics in CMC, and Gender, Culture and Sexuality modules.
At postgraduate level Michele teaches on the MA in Publiishing and in Education, and on the Ed.D programme.
Michele offers PhD and M.Res supervision in areas relating to youth and media engagement; gender and girlhood; audiences and identities; media and institutional discourses, narratives and taxonomies.
Michele's research interests lie in gendered aspects of power relationships, in discourses and experiences of girlhood, and in the potential of participation in research to address inequalities. She is currently leading a study investigating girls' imaginings of leadership, exploring ways in which they draw on local figures and transnational celebrities as well as their own experiences. Data is gathered via focus group workshops, surveys and closed social media groups. A summary of key findings from the pilot can be found here
In 2014-15 she led an international project developing models of participant action research to explore and address gendered barriers to leadership in youth in Scotland and The Netherlands.
Her doctoral thesis employed Foucault’s (1969) Archaeological model to investigate the circulation of discourses of gender, success and 'ability' with regard to girls. This study is interdisciplinary in its exploration of the ways in which discourses are reproduced in educational and popular culture settings; it developed an innovative model for data collection in schools, on television and on-line. It has purpose-built research website, www.smartgirls.tv.
Michele was co-organiser of 'The Neoliberal Life Cycle of Success: Alternative Perspectives' seminar series in 2015-16, and of the ‘Communities, Culture, Diversity and Cohesion’ series of public events on academica and ethics in public life. (with Prof. Beverley Clack), with a focus on feminist methodologies, research relationships and community benefits. While working within Education, she developed a range of Action Research projects at national and local levels and supported teacher-researchers on the BPRS scheme.
MeCCSA Women's Media Studies Network (Vice-Chair)
GEA: Gender and Education Association
Feminist and Women's Studies Association
Centre for Diversity Policy Practice and Research (Oxford Brookes)
2017-18: PI for project researching girls’ engagements with popular leadership discourses and representations of women leaders. This project explores an issue of pressing national and international significance identified by the European Commission (2010) and the World Economic Foundation (2016)—that of the under-representation of women in decision-making roles. It aims to understand what girls apprehend female leadership to mean in their local contexts, and also in global contexts of transnational celebrity and popular discourse. This project is supported by funding from the GEA and the OCMS.
2014-2015: Led participant action research (PAR) project with WAGGGS Europe looking at gendered barriers to leadership in youth in different European contexts. This involved working with volunteer leaders in Scotland and The Netherlands in both single-sex and mixed settings to identify and address challenges in their own settings through PAR approaches.
2008-2012: smartgirls.tv. This investigation of 'successful girl' discourses in educuatonal and media settings is a muliti-site, mixed method project that brings together the voices of girls interviewed in their schools, with participants in a dedicated website forum (www.smartgirls.tv), and stories for and about girls in film and television. It is published as Girhood, Schools and Media: Popular Discourses of the Achieving Girl (Routledge 2015)
'The Neoliberal Life Cycle of Success: Alternative Perspectives' seminar series blog https://nottheneoliberallifecycle.wordpress.com/about/
In this timely collection, contributors from a number of disciplines discuss neoliberal visions of success, and the subsequent effects they have on the construction of the lifecycle. Frequently mentioned in popular political discourse, the notion of neoliberalism is often deployed as shorthand for the consensus that austerity is necessary and the hard-working individual can survive it. This volume unpicks and interrogates the term by engaging with the interface between the political ubiquity of neoliberal forms and its lived experience in neoliberal societies, cutting across a multiplicity of factors including gender, age, and access to education. Impressive in its wide scope and analysis, Interrogating the Neoliberal Lifecycle presents an informed discussion not only of the limits of the neoliberal paradigm but also of possible alternatives.
The persistence of gendered learning myths in educational contexts and the wider imaginary continues to trouble feminist educational researchers and practitioners. The tracing of such myths and the categories they create through authoritative and elite discourses of the past suggests how they have functioned across different fields to preserve a hierarchised binary. Gendered myths seem to be lent authority by some of the more popular claims of contemporary neuroscience as they were by the nascent Victorian psychological sciences. Adopting Michele Le Doeuff’s (2003) heuristic of identifying which attributes are absorbed into masculine intellectual legacies and which ‘cast off’ to women allows for a focus on patterns of privileging of learning discourses across the humanities and sciences, and the ways these are constituted in historical and contemporary contexts
In this chapter I take as a starting point the figure of the ‘successful girl’ as she appears in popular and educational discourses as the ideal neoliberal subject (Harris 2005; McRobbie 2008), one that simultaneously reproduces and elides entrenched structures of privilege and power (Baker 2010) within a particular context that produces her as successful—that of ‘gifted and talented’ policy in the English education system of the early 21st Century. My interest lies in ways in which individual girls make sense of their lives in school contexts where they are enjoined to be successful within identifiably neoliberal parameters.
This report provides a summary of research into gender, youth and leadership. It draws on literature from the fields of psychology, education, youth and childhood, management, gender and cultural studies from a range of national and cultural contexts. It does not attempt to cover all literature in these diverse fields, but to identify key patterns and findings pertaining to the development of leadership in young people, gendered barriers to such development and examples of successful interventions.
Books (practitioner and student)
Michele provides consultancy and media commentary on matters relating to:
Vice-Chair of MeCCSA Women's Network
Member of the Feminist and Women's Studies Association
Member of the Gender and Education Association
Michele is interested in developing consultancy projects relating to girlhood and institutional cultures/practices. She has experience in designing online development tools as well as real-world intervention strategies. She has led and implemented a range of consultancy projects and evaluations for national and international clients in educational, voluntary and government sectors.
Selected conference and seminar papers
June 2017: 'Who Runs the World?: Girls, Leadership, and Celebrity' Symposium and Project Launch, Senate house, London
January 2017: '"I’m not bossy, I’m the Boss”: Girls’ mediated perceptions of power and leadership'. Paper presented at MeCCSA Annual Conference: Culture, Media, Equality and Freedom. University of Leeds.
October 2016: ‘Girls, mediated perceptions and experiences of leadership’ for the Oxford University International Gender Studies Centre seminar series, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
June 2016: 'Gender and discourse in audience studies' Seminar for the Oxford University Womens' Group, St Catherine's College, Oxford
June 2016: 'Working on Gender and Leadership' Opening keynote for the 15th Annual WAGGGS conference in Oslo
April 2016: 'Banning Bossy and Leaning In: Girls' mediated perceptions of leadership'. Paper presented at the International Association of Girlhood Studies, UEA, UK
October 2015:'Girls and the gendering of leadership'. Invited keynote for the 'ABC for youth participation in Europe' WAGGGS event, Bratislava, Slovakia.
June 2015. 'Girls’ negotiations with genre and gender on screen: the pedagogies of teen TV' at the Feminisms, Power and Pedagogy: 10th Biennial Conference of the Gender and Education Association at the University of Roehampton
June 2015: ‘”Something similar happens in TV-land”: Girls’ on- and offline audience strategies in relation to successful girl narratives’ at the Consuming Cultures: Women and Girls in Print and Pixels conference (OBU)
November 2014:' “He gave me all these options. And it kind of put me off”: Life-planning, anxiety and institutionalised choice in successful girl discourses'. Paper for seminar series: The Neoliberal Life Cycle of Success: Alternative Perspectives, Oxford Brookes University
May 2014.'Gender, Youth and Popular Discourses of Leadership'. Invited keynote for the WAGGGS International Convention on Gender, Youth and Leadership, Helsinki, Finland.
June 2013: ‘I was blonde and off a council estate’: Girls negotiating gender, class and success in television viewing. Console-ing Passions,International Conference on Television, Video, Audio, New Media and Feminism, De Montfort University, Leicester
November 2012: ‘Girls Online: Access, autonomy and anxiety’ Invited speaker at Children and Parents' Media Literacy research event,Ofcom, London
September 2012: ‘Researching with Girls: Spaces for reflection?’ Paper presented at A Tale of Two Cultures – Feminist Academia and Feminist Activism event held with the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice, Oxford Brookes University
June 2011: 'The Future Girl’s Problem Past: A Genealogical Approach to Feminised Success’ Paper presented at GEA: The Gender and Education Conference held at the University of Exeter
Before embarking on a research career in Communication, Media and Culture Michele led and worked on a range of national education initiatives including Excellence in Cities, Aim Higher, Widening Participation, the Best Practice Teacher Research Scheme and London Challenge. She has experience teaching in the secondary education sector, including as Head of English and Media and as Advanced Skills Teacher in an Education Action Zone.
From Initial reviews of Girlhood, Schools, and Media: Popular Discourses of the Achieving Girl (Routledge 2015):
The book is particularly innovative in its weaving together of media analysis and focus group/web data from girls who both respond to media, and articulate their own ‘smart girl’ identities. What also makes this book very original is its literature review on gendered notions of ‘genius’ and ‘gifted’ students. I have not seen that done anywhere else and it does offer some very interesting information for context
The author has definitely done the research to be considered an ‘expert’ on the topic and has been engaged to speak on the topic in a number of international and national venues
None of the competing literature weaves together media analysis with qualitative data. The element of on-line data collection is also a unique twist.
It will push thinking in new and innovative directions. The theoretical framework is novel, as is the tri-format for data collection
Blogs for GEA-funded Girls< leadership and Women in the Public Eye project:
Save the Cheerleader, Save the World: Girls, media and leadership in the 21st century
Meme Defectors? Girls’ encounters with leadership role models
Seminar series blog: https://notheneoliberallifecycle.wordpress.co