A woman’s conquest of the male bastion of inspection: The case of Lilyane Forestier (1964–1991)

Research papers
By Clémence Lebossé, Carine Érard

The purpose of this study is to bring to light Lilyane Forestier’s conquest of a male bastion from the 1960s onward: first at the Inspection Jeunesse et Sports (French Inspectorate for Youth and Sports) in 1964, followed by the school inspectorate responsible for sport and physical education in 1976. A PE teacher from the city of Paris from a working-class background, Lilyane Forestier was not, on the face of it, a likely candidate for her future career and achievements. Yet by forging her own path and seizing key opportunities while also developing specific “gender strategies,” Forestier was able to climb the ladder and, in doing so, to promote a conception of sport and physical education which, though perceived at times as going against the grain, contributed in some way to furthering a differentialist vision of individuals. Having conquered much of the male bastion of school inspection and inspectorates, Forestier was able to achieve a degree of freedom that she saw as a significant level of autonomy. However, this apparent autonomy also represented a kind of power that ultimately served to exercise a form of domination, particularly in terms of gender hierarchy. A key figure of French school inspection who retired in 1991, she never joined the Inspection Générale (General Inspectorate), a body from which Yvonne Surrel—the first woman to be appointed to the body in 1961—stepped down in 1977, the year of her retirement.

  • Woman
  • inspection
  • inspectorates
  • PE
  • gender strategies
  • power strategies.
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