Masculine Markets and Feminine Care: A Gender Analysis of the National Performance Review


DeLysa Burnier is a professor of political science at Ohio University. She is the former director of the master’s of public administration program and is currently a presidential teacher at Ohio University. Her research interests include economic development, gender, and public administration, as well as interpretive approaches to policy analysis. Her recent work has appeared in Administrative Theory and Praxis and the Journal of Public Affairs Education.


This essay aims to uncover how and in what ways gender figures in the three National Performance Review reports. The analysis uncovers the different ways that gender operates in the reports and, in doing so, highlights why policy language matters. At the analytic level of the word, the reports are gender inclusive. At the analytic level of the sentence, the figurative language, metaphors, and bridging assumptions privilege experiences and actions that are socially constructed as male and rely on traditional gender stereotypes about work, family, and government service use. At the analytic level of discourse, masculine market and feminine care discourses are identified and explicated. That care discourse emerged amid a movement to make government more businesslike and market oriented suggests that perhaps care values and practices deserve greater intellectual scrutiny.