Since the Third French Republic was established in 1875, French education has operated under a mandate to provide compulsory citizenship training to all children and to select an elite group of talented students who will receive a more rigorous form of schooling. In the twentieth century, France has experienced two major education reform movements aimed at democratizing this mandate — one between 1920 and 1930, and the other between 1960 and 1980. Both reform waves concentrated on changing the selection process for this elite group, which had almost exclusively included middle- and upper-class males. In these waves of change, which resulted in the standardization and centralization of France's schools, much attention was paid to issues of class, but little was paid to issues of gender equity. Mavrinac examines the effects of these reforms on gender equity and the effects of increased school centralization on girls' access to equitable education. She concludes by highlighting the lack of connection between movements for school reform and gender equity proposals and suggests that, despite its modification in recent years, the patriarchal structure of the educational bureaucracy remains powerfully in place.

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