Accountability for gender equality
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The aim of this paper is to consider approaches to understanding and evaluating accountability in education from the perspective of concerns with gender equality in education. This task has a number of facets and complexities, because ‘gender’ is not one simple set of relationships, and the notion of gender equality in education can be read in a number of different ways. Thus developing adequate conceptualizations for the key terms (accountability, and gender equality and education) needs to take account of gender as a particularly fluid, contextually located and contested idea signaling processes, which link with different formulations of policy and practice to enhance gender equality and accountability in education. In this paper we look at a range of different meanings of accountability, distilled in the main GEM Report (UNESCO, 2017) and consider their implications in relation to debates about gender and gender equality in education. The aim of the paper is to develop a ‘bespoke’ interpretation of accountability and different forms of gender equality in education through which we can assess a number of research studies and country examples of forms of accountability. The structure of the argument is as follows: Section 1 presents a review of different meanings of gender and gender equality in education and considers how these can be used to interpret different facets of accountability. Section 2 considers gender issues associated with three of these facets of accountability – forms of participation, accountability structures and processes, and evaluations of accountability aims and outcomes. This section of the paper reports on some published research in this area, and highlights some research gaps. Section 3 looks at some of the gender effects of accountability mechanisms in education, looking particularly at current and recent historical examples, drawing out where outcomes appear to have enhanced gender equalities and where perverse effects are apparent and how these might be addressed. A conclusion attempts to bring the threads of the argument together commenting on some gender issues associated with who is accountable and who holds whom to account, some gendered effects of accountability processes, and how this varies across different sites, looking particularly at governments, schools, the organisations which support teachers, and present the concerns of parents.