Embodied minds: College women’s experience and the panopticon of higher education

Rebecca Ropers, Kelly T. Winters, Leah Hakkola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article explores the ways in which women’s perceptions of their own bodies affect their experiences as students in higher education. Based on online focus group interviews with 25 college women,the authors use Foucault’s concept of the “Panopticon” to consider how students internalize and enforce gendered expectations related to ideal body types within college contexts. Centered in the belief that college is a time when people develop their identities,this study investigates how women students’ experiences in college are influenced by their embodied minds. We demonstrate how their feelings of being critically observed and judged influenced decisions related to their academic and social interactions as well as their academic success and feelings of belonging. The article concludes by urging educators and scholars to pay attention to the ways in which minds and bodies influence teaching and learning interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-132
Number of pages18
JournalNASPA Journal About Women in Higher Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


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