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Gender differentiation in transitions to work and family-related roles

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1 Gender differentiation in transitions to work and family-related roles
Ingrid Schoon Institute of Education, University of London In collaboration with Andy Ross, Peter Martin, and Steven Hope The aim of this paper is to examine gender differences in the transition to adult roles, focusing on the assumption of work and family related roles in times of social change. In particular the antecedents for career decisions among men and women are examined, as well as variations in timing and combination of adult roles. The findings are based on two British Birth cohort studies, following the lives of over 20,000 individuals born in 1958 and 1970 respectively. The two cohorts are born just before and during the major socio-demographic changes that affected most developed Western Countries, giving us the unique opportunity to gain a better understanding of the changing nature of life course transitions in times of social change. Debates about changes in timing, sequencing, and co-ordination of transitions in modern society are a central issue in current social science research – yet there is still a lack of systematic empirical evidence about how the life course has changed, if at all – and how it has differentiated across social groups – The aim of this paper is to close some of these gaps ESRC Gender Equality Network (GeNet) International Conference City University London, 28 March 2008

2 Transitions and Career Trajectories
leaving ft education entry to paid employment step into committed relationship parenthood Career trajectories: dynamic context in which transitions take place

3 Transitions in Context: A Life course approach
Embeddedness of human development in a changing socio-historical context Social change and its influence on timing and sequencing of transitions Reciprocal interactions between individual and context Linked lives: transgenerational approach Development as life long process: accumulation of experiences Career development in context A basic proposition made here is that human development takes place in a socio-historical context, and that for a better understanding of the processes shaping individual adaptation it is necessary to identify the interplay between individual and environment over time. The adopted approach is guided by assumptions formulated within a life course perspective of human development with its emphasis on multiple interacting spheres of influence, as well as the temporal dimension and developmental effects of social change and transitions (Elder, 1979, 1998). According to the life course approach, the course of human development is shaped by a set of principles including lifelong development, individual agency, timing of events, linked lives, and embeddedness of development in a socio-historical context. Social trajectories of education, work and family, provide a framework for individuals to negotiate their life, and offer opportunities and constraints for individual agency. Social change may affect the course of these trajectories, such as the timing or the sequencing of events (Elder, 1998). Furthermore, life chances and opportunities are not equally distributed, and vary according to social origin, gender, race, age, and the wider socio-historical context experienced. Adopting the life-course perspective makes it possible to investigate how individual lives are mutually shaped by personal characteristics and socio-historical environment, enabling the integration of process and structure, and to link individual time with historical time. The life course perspective shifts our attention from the static to the dynamic, examining the timing, sequencing and duration of transitions. It has been argued that social change can influence the timing and sequencing of transitions (Elder, 1998). Emphasising agency as well as social embeddedness of human development makes the life course approach well suited for a gender sensitive approach. The life-course perspective assumes reciprocal socialisation processes between individual and context, and can be useful for a better understanding between social structures and individual attainments on a mirco level.

4 Gender and context Life course as personal construction
Selective processes Interests and goals Role expectations and demands The life course is to a considerable degree a personal construction But it entails selective processes and a sifting and sorting of persons into and out of various contexts Society exists as a shifting structure of groups and of positions to be occupied, a structure that is differentiated along an number of dimensions, including socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age and gender That differentiation begins from the prenatal period, but one’s position in society is largely assigned by the family’s social position. The sifting and sorting of young people lead to differentiation on the basis of interests and goals (Clausen, 1995) . Particularly in adolescence personal choice becomes a major factor in determining where one will fit, or seek to fit, in the larger social sytem. The individual’s purposive choices are however shaped in turn by society and one’s position within it. External, sometimes change events exert their influence on the developing person. The interaction of persons in contexts with varied features, expectations, demands, rewards, and stresses, at any period of the lifecourse may strengthen commitments or lead to changes in commitments, and to changes in the timing and sequencing of transitions. For a better understanding of gender differences in the transition to adult roles it is thus vital to examine lives in context, and to study transitions as they unfold, capturing data on antecedents and preparations for these transitions, as well as their development over time.

5 Lives in Context During the lifetimes of the 1958 and 1970 birth cohorts, British society witnessed considerable changes in almost every aspect of its way of life. While the 1958 cohort grew up during a period of extraordinary economic growth and social transformation described by Hobsbawm (1995) as a ‘Golden Age’, the 1970 cohort came of age in an era of increasing instability and insecurity - ‘the Crisis Decades’ (Hobsbawm, 1995), characterised by two major recession. Although born only 12 years apart, the two cohorts faced very different conditions and opportunities. Since the second half of the last century there have been far-reaching transformations in the sphere of work and the necessary skills to succeed (Gallie, 2000). Employment in manufacturing industries declined and was superseded by a rapid growth in the service industries. The rapid spread of new technologies lead to increasing demand for highly qualified recruits. Successive governments responded to these fundamental changes in the labour market by expanding higher education and by implementing new programmes of training (Halsey, 2000). These changes have had a far reaching impact on the experience of young people. In Britain the legal minimum school leaving age was raised from fifteen to sixteen years in 1972, making the 1958 cohort the first generation to be affected. The average length of schooling continued to rise, and more young people from all social groups participated in further education, once the preserve of the privileged few (Furlong & Cartmel, 1997). In order to secure employment, young people are under increasing pressure to continue full-time education beyond the age of 16 years, and to acquire formal qualifications. Most young people born in 1958 who left school during the 1970s could expect to find a job regardless of their educational attainment, whereas for young people born in 1970 school attainment became a key prerequisite. Young people with poor educational attainment had substantially more difficulty in gaining entry to employment, and their unemployment rates were consistently higher than for those in the 1958 cohort (Bynner, 2001). These changes in the labour market were accompanied by a dramatic increase of women participating in the labour force. The life of women has been transformed enormously in the second half of the century, and the reinvigoration of feminism has advanced the narrowing of gender gaps in educational and occupational opportunities. In the early 1970s young women tended to gain fewer formal qualifications and were generally underrepresented in the Universities. By the early 1980s the situation started to change. There is Evidence from data collected for two British Birth cohorts born in 1958 and 1970 respectively suggests that young people from less privileged family backgrounds generally show lower levels of school motivation, obtain fewer educational qualifications, and have lower aspirations regarding education and employment (Schoon, 2006). They also tend to make work and family related transitions earlier than their more privileged peers, with reduced career opportunities in later life (Bynner, 1998; Schoon et al., 2007). Although social change has affected all young people, it has not affected all in the same way. The preparation for adulthood has been elongated especially for those who can afford to invest in their education, i.e. those from more privileged backgrounds. A distinction has opened up between those who take a slower route to adulthood involving longer education and delayed assumption of adult roles, and those who follow the traditional fast track transition leaving school at minimum age, followed by early entry to the labour market and family formation, leading to a polarisation between fast and slow track transitions (Berrington, 2001; Bynner, 2005; Jones, 2002). Two British Birth Cohort Studies born 12 years apart in 1958 and 1970 : From ‘Golden Age’ to ‘Crisis Decades’ Changing labour market Expansion of the education system Increasing participation of women in the labour market

6 Two National British Birth Cohorts Age of Cohort Members by Historical Events
Boom Economy Recession Economy Knowledge Economy This chart illustrates the age of cohort members by when they experienced the historical events mentioned. The 1958 cohort was born just before the end of the baby boom in an era of liberalisation and extraordinary economic growth. This ‘Golden Age’ came to an end with the early 1970’s with the 1973 oil crisis, followed by two major recessions. The recessions staring in the late 1970s were the most serious since the past fifty years, and brought with them unprecedented levels of unemployment, especially youth unemployment rates soared to record levels. There has been a marked decline in manual and non-skilled work opportunities (the usual entry point for young workers) and an increase in white-collar and professional jobs. New technologies brought changes in labour market opportunities and demands for a more highly skilled labour force. While in the 1070s most young people could move straight from school at minimum school leaving age into a job – while in the 1990s most young people continued in further education. Increasing qualification levels have been observed in most industrialised countries – and the age when young people enter employment has been effectively delayed. In most Western societies, more education and skill development is required to meet the increasingly complex and challenging demands of employment. Thus, there has been increasing participation in further education – as well as a rapid and continuous rise of women entering the labour market (Gallie, 2000). There has also been a general increase in living standards – more people own their own homes and fewer families live in overcrowded houses with shared ameneties The cohort studies offer the unique opportunity to gain a better understanding of the context dependency of adjustment in changing times, and to assess the impact of social change on individual lives. The studies provide data on educational and occupational aspirations assessed during adolescence as well as adult outcomes. It it thus possible to identify precursors and concurrent factors influencing aspirations, as well as adult outcomes in work and family related roles. 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS): n=17,415 Birth Age 7 Age 11 Age Age 23 Age 33 Age 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70): n=16,571 Birth Age 5 Age 10 Age Age Age Era of liberalisation Revival of Feminist movement Oil crisis New technologies Onset of recession Collapse of housing market Second wave of recession Onset of recovery End of baby boom

7 Transitions in Times of Social Change
With the onset of the 21st century new, more global and pluralistic views regarding the nature of transitions into adulthood are emerging. It has been argued that since the 1970s transitions into adulthood have become de-standardised, i.e. more variable and protracted, and less uniform due to changing gender relations, expansion of the education system, a decoupling of educational qualifications and professions, and the increased risk of youth unemployment (Beck, 1992; Buchmann, 1989; Giddens, 1991). it has been argued that there has been an ‘ideational shift’ characterised by changing social practices and the breakdown of many class, gender, and age based constraints shaping demographic events (Lesthaeghe, 1995). Individual biographies have become more removed from traditional life scripts and more dependent on individual decision making (Beck, 1992; Giddens, 1991). As individuals were freed from the traditional constraints of family, gender, and social structure they were able to exercise more agency and choice in the construction of their biographies, leading to individualised biographies (Beck, 1992). The notion of individualisation, or increasing individual choice has however been questioned, as there is persisting evidence of unequal access to educational and career opportunities – based on social origin, gender and ethnicity (Bynner, 2005; Furlong & Cartmel, 1997; Heinz, 2002b).- leading to differentiation of transition experiences across social groups within a population Although changes in life course transitions have been debated within the social sciences, there is still a lack of systematic empirical research on the structure of the life course, how it has changed and differentiated across social groups (Elder & Shanahan, 2007). The examination of changes in life course patterns requires longitudinal data collected acorss multliple domains from representative samples who have been followed over time Such data are rarely available – and empirical evidence about transformation of the life course in successive birth cohorts is relatively sparse. Comparing experiences of individuals born in two birth cohorts makes it possible to analyse the influence of social change, as the birth year of a cohort locates it in a specific historical time and related socio-historical changes. De-standardisation prolonged education delayed step into financial independence delayed step into family formation Individualisation Differentiation slow versus fast transitions gender differences

8 Timing of Transitions Focus on Key Transitions:
Entry into full-time Employment Step into Parenthood

9 Employment & Parenthood (Men only)
BCS70: n = (men 5114, women 5441) NCDS: n = 9440 (men 4717, women 4723) Pathways into adulthood: female careers . Mmen’s occupational careers are mostly dominated by full-time work,

10 Employment & Parenthood (Women only)
BCS70: n = (men 5114, women 5441) NCDS: n = 9440 (men 4717, women 4723) Pathways into adulthood: female careers While the pattern of delayed assumption of adult roles regarding entry into paid employment, delayed marriage and childbirth applies to both men and women, women generally make the transition into adult roles earlier then men. In comparison to men they are earlier to leave the parental home, start their first partnership, enter a marriage, and have their first child. While men’s occupational careers are mostly dominated by full-time work, women’s career development is shaped by their multiple roles as both mother and worker. The general increase in female labour market participation has not let to a substantial redivision of household and family responsibilities, which are still largely the domain of women (Blossfeld & Drobnic, 2001; Narusk & Kandolin, 1997). Parenthood, in particular, is associated with longer spells of being out of the labour force and part-time careers among women, while men’s career are less affected by their parenting roles.

11 Changing Transitions Extended education Delayed step into parenthood
Increasing female attachment to labour market Persistent gender differences: Timing of transitions Interdependence of transitions

12 Differentiation of transitions: Slow versus fast track transitions
Fast track: leaving school by age 16 Intermediate: leaving school between 17 and 18 Slow track: leaving school after age 19 (academic track)

13 Fast versus slow track transition

14 Antecedents to transition pathways
Socio-economic family background Gender Socialisation experiences Individual characteristics (capabilities, goals, motivation) Socio-historical context

15 Predictors for staying on in ft education (academic track)
Socio-economic Family Background Own Characteristics R2 NCDS men 0.20 0.22 0.42 NCDS women 0.25 0.18 0.43 BCS70 men 0.21 0.27 0.48 BCS70 women 0.19 0.41 Socio-economic family background: Parental social class, mothers education, mothers age at first birth Own characteristics: exam at age 16, school engagement, job aspirations (Hierarchical Regression Model: Nagelkerke R2 change and overall R2 )

16 Increasing Individualisation?
Greater importance of individual characteristics in shaping transitions Or Changing norms and expectations? General increase in further education Increasing importance of academic credentials Increasing participation of women in continued education

17 Developmental-Contextual Model of Career Development
Aims to uncover processes by which the family and the larger societal context influence individual commitment and pursuit of a career Takes developmental perspective (considering timing and biographical experiences) Examines multiple pathways shaping career development in men and women Replication of model in two birth cohorts Testing for gender and cohort differences in pathway coefficients To examine the multiple pathways shaping career development in men and women a Developmental-Contextual Model is proposed (Figure 2) specifying the pathways linking family background, individual agency factors, parenthood histories and adult occupational attainment. The model postulates that the influence of parental social background operates via the proximal family environment (Bronfenbrenner, 1979), here conceptualised by material conditions experienced in the family home, and the parental educational expectations for the teenager. Insert figure 2

18 Developmental-Contextual Model of Career Development
Family background Parental Social Class Birth Material Hardship Parental Educational Expectations Proximal family environment Age 16 Job aspirations School Motivation Individual agency factors Exam Score Age 16-29 Age at first birth Parenthood histories Adult occupational attainment Own occupational status Age 30/33 Schoon, Martin & Ross, 2007

19 Findings Persisting social inequalities
Teenage girls appear to have higher occupational aspirations then men, they are more motivated at school and achieve better exam results. Parents expect that their daughters will participate longer in further education then their sons, thus supporting their career endeavours. Nonetheless women are less likely than men to achieve to the same occupational level. One explanation for this gap in women’s strivings and their achievements appears to be associated with the step into parenthood, which appears to occur earlier in the lives of women than men. The findings suggest that the general increase in female labour market participation has not let to a substantial redivision of household and family responsibilities, which are still largely the domain of women . As women have entered the workforce and taken on new roles, they have retained their position as the person responsible for childcare. For women the roles as mother and labour-force participant appear to be independent and in conflict, while for men their roles as father and worker are interdependent and easier to combine, suggesting that institutional arrangements have failed to accommodate the realities of women and couples in the workforce . The direct link between parental social class and timing of first birth is mediated via socialisation experiences in the family, in particular through the experience of economic hardship and the associated parental educational expectations for their child. Parents with only few economic resources are less likely to expect their child to continue in further education than parents in more privileged circumstances. The link between economic resources and parental expectations is less strong in the later born cohort, possibly due to generally raised expectations for further education among parents which might in turn be a response to changing nature of the labour market and increasing demands for a highly skilled workforce. Parental educational expectations had a significant influence in shaping their children’s academic motivation, their job aspirations and exam performance, as well as the timing of parenthood. High levels of parental aspirations were positively associated with the child’s aspirations and achievement, regardless of social class factors, This finding confirms the importance of parent-child relations in supporting occupational development of their children in addition and above the economic resources available to the family .Transition specific parent-child interactions can help young people to find a career direction and foster more adaptive outcomes. The associations between parental expectations and young people’s agency are however stronger for cohort members born in 1958 than for those born 12 years later, possibly suggesting a weakening of the bond between parental expectations and own strivings, which in turn might be more strongly influenced by other factors not included in the model, such as support from teachers or peers. The influence of economic hardship, on the other hand, has increased as a predictor of teenager’s school motivation and academic performance for the later born cohort. Economic hardship also has a slightly stronger effect on the timing of parenting transitions in the later born cohort. These findings might suggest that access to economic resources has become more important in shaping the transitions into adult roles for the later born cohort. The development and maintenance of motivation and aspirations is bound up with family circumstances, underlining the principle of linked lives, the embeddedness of individual choices with the lives of others (Elder, 1998). Being born into less privileged social backgrounds is a risk factor associated with lower levels of educational engagement and achievement, as well as occupational aspirations and attainment. School motivation in particular plays a central role in influencing occupational aspirations, academic attainment as well as timing of parenthood. The findings lend support to the expectation hypotheses (Bonell et al., 2005) suggesting that dislike of school fosters low expectations about future education and training opportunities, thus rendering early parenthood as a reasonable career alternative. There is also some support for this assumption regarding the link between job aspirations and timing of parenthood. The findings suggest that high job aspirations are related to a delay of first motherhood beyond the late 20s. Women with professional job aspirations are more likely than other women to delay childbirth into their thirties (or to remain childless). However, job aspirations do nothing to explain differences in timing of motherhood among women who were mothers already by age 28. Cohort members with high occupational aspirations who perform well in their examinations are more likely to delay the step into parenthood and pursue their occupational careers. The multiple paths determining adult occupational status, suggest that career development takes place within a life planning framework, where plans regarding education and employment are linked with other life roles such as becoming a parent. While job aspirations showed a stronger influence on adult occupational status among cohort members born in 1958, especially among men, exam performance has become a more important predictor for cohort members born in The findings underline the increasing importance of educational performance for occupational attainment in the later born cohort. Persisting social inequalities Influence of social background is mediated via socialisation experiences in the family Career development takes place within a life planning framework Early transitions influence later outcomes →Time inequality as major social divide

20 The role of school engagement
Possible leverage for intervention Is influenced by socialisation experiences Reflects role choices and connection between person and activity Influences timing of transitions

21 School engagement A multidimensional construct:
Emotion (reactions to school) Cognition (planning and goal setting) Behaviour (involvement and effort) (Fedricks et al. 2004) Often used interchangeably with motivation (why we do what we do), although concept emphasis more what people do

22 Transgenerational Model of Status Attainment
Life course model: Considers both social structure and individual factors in shaping careers Accounts for the context in which individual agency takes place Considers importance of timing of transitions and age-specific developmental tasks

23 Transgenerational Model of Status Attainment
Academic Capability School Engagement Transition behaviour Own Social Status Family Social Status Childhood Adolescence Adulthood

24 Measures Family Social Status: Academic capability/IQ
parental social class, parental education Academic capability/IQ NCDS: General Ability Test BCS70: British Ability Scales (BAS) School engagement: School motivation, educational aspirations, occupational aspirations Transition behaviour: Age leaving school, timing of parenthood Own social status: own social class, highest qualifications

25 Transgenerational Model of Status Attainment (Women only: NCDS/BCS70)
Academic Capability .21/.23 .28/.23 .07/.05ns School Engagement .56/.53 .72/.82 Timing of Transitions Own Social Status .52/.60 .44/.44 .27/.20 .01ns/.06 Increasing social inequality in later born cohort: stronger influence of parental social status on won academic capability Primacy of social factors in influencing school engagement – over cognitive abilities School engagement significantly predicts timing of transitions In addition significant effect of social background Small, or even unsignificant influence of academic capability on timing of transitions Timing of strnasitions significantly influence own social status Time delayed influence of academic capability – potential catch-up – or accentuation of capabilities over time Family Social Status Childhood Age Ages 16-29 Age 30/33 Model Fit: NCDS: CFI=0.998; rmsea=0.032 / BCS70: CFI=0.996; rmsea=0.033

26 Transgenerational Model of Status Attainment (Men only: NCDS/BCS70)
Academic Capability .27/.22 .32/.19 .05/.05ns School Engagement .57/.58 .80/.84 Timing of Transitions Own Social Status .48/.59 .48/.58 .20/.15 .08/.11 Similar patterns among men: increasing social inequality Primacy of social social factors over own cognitive capability in influencing school engagement Significant influence of school engagement on timing of transitions And timing of transitions influencing own social status Time delayed role of academic capability Decreasing importance of family background Gender differences: School engagement more strongly influenced by family social status, especially in later born cohort Family Social Status Childhood Age Ages 16-29 Age 30/33 Model Fit: NCDS: CFI=0.999; rmsea=0.020 / BCS70: CFI=0.998; rmsea=0.021

27 School engagement and long-term outcomes
School engagement significantly predicts timing of transition behaviour School engagement, ability, and social background are significant determinants of careers Cognitive ability and social class operate in part via school engagement in influencing transition behaviour

28 School Engagement Primacy of socio-cultural influences over individual ability in predicting school engagement, especially among men → suggests malleability → possible role of social values and/or family support → alternative expectation theory → possible role of school environment

29 Role of ability more strongly related to adult social status than to transition behaviour Effects of cognitive ability increase with age Effects of social background decrease with age

30 Time inequality Social status is traditionally measured in employment focused and financial terms Time inequality as a major social divide: Timing of life course transitions is significantly influenced by social background Timing of transitions is a particular issue for women

31 Conclusion Need for models that move beyond static snapshots to dynamic understanding of transitions and careers Interventions aiming to prevent early school drop-out and early parenthood should address school engagement as an important leverage for shaping transition behaviours Acknowledge multiple temporal perspectives Support opportunities for career path flexibilities Recognise timing as a resource and commodity Dynamic of transitions – tension building up to decisions

32 Thank you Thank you

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