Faire vite et surtout: le faire savoir. Les interactions verbales en classe


Faire vite et surtout : le faire savoir. Les interactions verbales en classe sous l’influence du genre

As soon as secondary education and universities were allowed to female students, we assessed a spectacular progression of their academic records. So, we are facing a paradox which we cannot completely explain with the reproduction theory (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1964): if the dominant group uses the educational system to reproduce their domination, as we can see with social inequalities, how can we explain that the dominated gender has a better schooling course than the dominant gender?

However, their brilliant courses stop when women have access to university. Their better marks do not open the gates to the most prestigious degrees. Moreover, their degrees are always less profitable on the labour market than the men’s, whether in France or in

To enlighten this paradox, we have conducted a research on verbal interactions in the classroom. We have observed 15 sessions in various disciplines in secondary school, in Geneva.

In the classroom, speaking spontaneously or speaking to answer the teachers’ questions looks like a competition. Female students do not often take the floor and do not learn how to highlight their competences and knowledge. But as they are not struggling for speaking, they have time to learn. For many male students, their goal is only getting the teachers’ and classmates’ attention, and not producing the correct answer. The best students can make it, fast and accurately. The others only have time to answer quickly but not to learn.

But then, the labour market and the educational system follow two different logics. At school, the evaluation process implies continuous assessments to check each student’s progression. At the workplace and, in most cases, at the higher level of university, boosting one’s career means demonstrating your worth. Female students cannot learn this skill while they are sitting wordless during the lessons.



Publication information


Heri Rakoto-Raharimanana


Société Internationale d'Ethnographie, Revue Internationale d'Ethnographie, Numéro 4



Media Type:





Research labels:

Education – vocational training
Childhood – adolescence
Language(s) – discourse – communication


Gender Studies, Education Sciences, Sociology