The article draws on qualitative educational research across a diversity of low-income countries to examine the gendered inequalities in education as complex, multi-faceted and situated rather than a series of barriers to be overcome through linear input–output processes focused on isolated dimensions of quality. It argues that frameworks for thinking about educational quality often result in analyses of gender inequalities that are fragmented and incomplete. However, by considering education quality more broadly as a terrain of quality it investigates questions of educational transitions, teacher supply and community participation, and develops understandings of how education is experienced by learners and teachers in their gendered lives and their teaching practices. By taking an approach based on theories of human development the article identifies dynamics of power underpinning gender inequalities in the literature and played out in diverse contexts and influenced by social, cultural and historical contexts. The review and discussion indicate that attaining gender equitable quality education requires recognition and understanding of the ways in which inequalities intersect and interrelate in order to seek out multi-faceted strategies that address not only different dimensions of girls’ and women’s lives, but understand gendered relationships and structurally entrenched inequalities between women and men, girls and boys.