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Gendered Choices and Transitions: part-time pathways, full-time lives


Vignette illustrating gender, life-stage and class influences on decision-making ... 16 some grade C GCSEs, initial post-comp ed. secretarial quals, now has NVQ3 in ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Gendered Choices and Transitions: part-time pathways, full-time lives

Gendered Choices and Transitions part-time
pathways, full-time lives

Gender, life stage and educational
decision-making Researching adult
non-participation in Higher Education Alison
Fuller Paper presented to Women in Lifelong
Learning Network Conference 18 May,
2007 Birkbeck, University of London
Structure of Presentation
  • Background to our research
  • Overview of project
  • Population evidence from the LFS
  • Vignette illustrating gender, life-stage and
    class influences on decision-making
  • Conclusions

Background to our research
  • Policy and research interest in widening
    participation in HE
  • 50 of 18-30s target
  • Persistently uneven patterns of participation
    across the population
  • ESRC TLRP funded projects

Research Project Aims
  • To examine the extent to which HE is conceived as
    within the bounds of the possible for
    potentially recruitable but non-participating
  • To explore how attitudes to HE and decisions
    about participation are distributed across,
    embedded and negotiated within inter-generational
    networks of intimacy

Interview Samples
  • Focus of our entry point sampling strategy
  • - Level 3 as highest qualification
  • - Gender, life stage and other factors incl.
    generation, SEG, employment status, age,
    occupation, geographical location
  • 16 networks, members approx. 5 nominated by entry
    point further diversify sample

Theoretical Orientations
  • Life-course and stage in context (history,
    biography and structure)
  • Changing relationship between individual and
  • Inter-relationship between forms of social
  • Decision-making as a personal and collective

Evidence from LFS
  • The Labour Force Survey provides a useful dataset
    for investigating the characteristics of people
    with different levels of qualifications and
  • of economically active population with highest
    level of qualification in Great Britain
  • level 3 20 ,
  • level 4 30
  • Below level 3 50

Highest Qualification by Age and Gender - of
age cohort
Highest Qualification, Additional Qualifications,
Gender and Occupational Structure
  • L3 Females are less likely than L3 males to be in
    highest status occupations (16 v 24)
  • 44 of females with L4 qualifications are in
    top occupations, (62 of males)
  • At all qualification levels females less likely
    than males to be in top occupations
  • BUT
  • Females at all Q levels more likely to be
    pursuing additional Qs, gap exists controlling
    for marital status and for number of children

  • A. is female 32, married, 2 children aged 6
    (autistic) and 3 father mechanic, mother shop
    worker, white British employed part-time HR
    administrator, left school at 16 some grade C
    GCSEs, initial post-comp ed. secretarial quals,
    now has NVQ3 in office administration and works
    part-time as an HR administrator in Health

Gendered and Classed Early Transitions
  • Transition from compulsory to post-compulsory
    education and to work
  • parents attitude to education and work
  • Gender stereotypical area of study and occupation
  • Normal biography (non-decision making?)

Illustrative quotations
  • A. Because my parents, theyre very sort of, my
    dads a car mechanic and my mum has just worked
    in shops and done bar worktheyve never thought
    that gaining A levels was a route that was worth
    doingId talk about some careers and theyd say
    well love you have to be clever to do that
  • Int. So why did you choose to do those subjects
    office/secretarial at college as distinct from
    anything else though?
  • A. I just didnt really...think I could do a lot
    else. I didnt want to work in a shopI liked erm

Current life-stage gendered decisions
constraints on choice
  • Gender stereotypical divisions between A and her
  • Distribution of caring responsibilities
  • Part-time/full-time working
  • Partner has recently finished PT HND in building
    surveying, now working FT as surveyor

Illustrative quotations
  • Int. Do you think youd like to do it become
    health professional now?
  • A. Ive looked into things like that but theyre
    full-time and theres a limited erm colleges in
    the UK. So you know it would mean moving off to,
    and I cant do that now with young childrenId
    like to be a dieticianI mean thats four years
    of full-time study and you cant do it
  • some time this term, we need to determine
    where, which school pre-school hes 3 yr old
    going to do it, and how Im going to juggle.
    Taking one to X and one to Y and getting back to
    pick them up and work in the middle some.

Anticipating the Future
  • A has desire to pursue a career which will
    involve higher level study
  • Her expanded horizon for action created by
    development of social capital bridging and
  • female colleagues/mothers whove done it and
    partners experience
  • Anticipated life-stage

Illustrative Quotation
  • I meet amazing people in my job now and I think
    wow. I mean weve got nurses qualifying all the
    timethat have been like NAs for yearsthey had
    childrenthey do it and I just really like
    thatyou can go off and do thingsin life

Gender, life-stage, class and educational and
career decision-making
  • Gendered and classed nature of As young
    adulthood and current life stage gender
    specific normal biography
  • Reflected in gender stereotypical occupations and
    caring responsibilities
  • Expanding horizon for action related to current
    household class, employment, availability of
    LLL and LM opportunities, development of social
  • Life concept includes an orientation towards
    higher level study and career which is
    illustrative of elements of constraint and choice

For Discussion
  • Why are females more likely than males to be
    studying for additional qualifications? Why L3
    hollow for females?
  • How important is it to identify the
    inter-relationships between gender, class and
  • What are the implications for LLL policy?

Further Information
  • Project team, details and Working Paper series
  • Email