Gender and personal development planning in higher education
In the United Kingdom it has been just over ten years since Personal development Planning (PDP) was proposed by the National Commission into Higher Education (Dearing, 1997) and since then it has become a central feature that has been put into operation across the sector. This has come about as the result of an awareness that in a globalised education and work place market, students will need to be more competitive in developing and marketing their academic and other skills. However, this inner directed process has spawned a discourse of voluntarism that dissolves engagement with political issues such as the gender implications of programmes of study and associated careers. This paper argues that a gender-neutral focus on the ‘person’ can potentially lead to the maintenance of inequalities for career pathways for men and women. This is also played out with regard to the discourse of work-life balance which, in effect, is taken as applying more to women than men, but which is formulated within gender-neutral discourse. These parallels are discussed with regard to the increasing focus on the Bologna process and the ‘knowledge economy’.