Girls and Physical Education: Beyond the Clichés

Research Questions
By Sébastien Laffage-Cosnier

Since the early 2000s, studies on the analysis of corporal practices provided to girls in French schools have occupied an important place in the historiography of physical education. Segregation and differentiation of content according to students’ gender are part of the most widely demonstrated mechanisms. To illustrate the plurality of body education within the French school system, this work aims to reveal the presence of innovative prototypes, true exceptions to the dominant process. More specifically, it intends to show that there is a form of democratization of sport among female students enrolled in the Gambetta school of Vanves, in which experiments by doctor Max Fourestier have been carried out. The analysis of two photographs depicting the girls during a physical education session taught in the late 1960s shows that the proposed corporal practices, in part, aim to escape from the normative injunctions linked to the traditional gender distribution of roles.


  • girls
  • physical education
  • sportivisation
  • photography
  • school innovation
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