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Gendered Choices and Transitions: part- time pathways, full-time lives NON PARTICIPATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION Gender, life stage and educational decision-making:

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Presentation on theme: "Gendered Choices and Transitions: part- time pathways, full-time lives NON PARTICIPATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION Gender, life stage and educational decision-making:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Gendered Choices and Transitions: part- time pathways, full-time lives NON PARTICIPATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION 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

2 Structure of Presentation Background to our research Background to our research Overview of project Overview of project Population evidence from the LFS Population evidence from the LFS Vignette illustrating gender, life-stage and class influences on decision-making Vignette illustrating gender, life-stage and class influences on decision-making Conclusions Conclusions

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

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

5 Interview Samples Focus of our entry point sampling strategy: 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 further diversify sample 16 networks, members approx. 5 nominated by entry point further diversify sample

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

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

8 Highest Qualification by Age and Gender - % of age cohort

9 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%) 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) 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 At all qualification levels females less likely than males to be in top occupationsBUT Females at all Q levels more likely to be pursuing additional Qs, gap exists controlling for marital status and for number of children

10 Vignette 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 Authority 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 Authority

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

12 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 work…theyve never thought that gaining A levels was… a route that was worth doing…Id talk about some careers and theyd say well love you have to be clever to do that A. Because my parents, theyre very sort of, my dads a car mechanic and my mum has just worked in shops and done bar work…theyve never thought that gaining A levels was… a route that was worth doing…Id 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? 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 shop…I liked erm typing A. …I just didnt really...think I could do a lot else. I didnt want to work in a shop…I liked erm typing

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

14 Illustrative quotations Int. Do you think youd like to do it [become health professional] now? 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 children…Id like to be a dietician…I mean thats four years of full-time study and you …cant do it 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 children…Id like to be a dietician…I 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. …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.

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

16 Illustrative Quotation I meet amazing people in my job now and I think wow. I mean weve got nurses qualifying all the time…that have been like NAs for years…they had children…they do it and I just really like that…you can go off and do things…in life I meet amazing people in my job now and I think wow. I mean weve got nurses qualifying all the time…that have been like NAs for years…they had children…they do it and I just really like that…you can go off and do things…in life

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

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

19 Further Information Project team, details and Working Paper series Project team, details and Working Paper series


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