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Courses, qualifications and career choices: does higher education amplify or reduce gender inequalities? Kate Purcell Warwick Institute for Employment.

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Presentation on theme: "Courses, qualifications and career choices: does higher education amplify or reduce gender inequalities? Kate Purcell Warwick Institute for Employment."— Presentation transcript:

1 Courses, qualifications and career choices: does higher education amplify or reduce gender inequalities? Kate Purcell Warwick Institute for Employment Research GENDER, CLASS, EMPLOYMENT AND FAMILY INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE City University, London, March 27-28, 2008

2 CURRENT CONTEXT Human capital – in particular, university-educated labour – increasingly regarded as crucial to economic development –successive UK governments have invested in increasingly high levels of education on assumption that knowledge-based skills and innovation are increasingly crucial for competitiveness; –evidence that educated labour is more innovative and adaptable; –development of social and material educational infrastructure. Economic restructuring – global, sectoral, organisationa l –SO changing demand for skills and knowledge due to transformation of UK manufacturing from labour-based to knowledge- based (e.g. growth of science-based industries – chemicals, biotechnology, ICT (– depends on highly skilled and educated labour); growth and globalisation of market services. Impact of technology on information management and communication. Global concern with the eradication inequalities.

3 Entry to Higher Education, Age Participation Index (API) 1961 to 2006

4 What does this mean? Increase in graduate labour supply Reflects increase in range of skills and knowledge being developed on undergraduate programmes Upskilling of population or increase in credentialism? Increase in womens participation in higher education Change in the gender balance of power – decrease in female dependency? Contribution to gender equality of opportunity?

5 Changing structure of occupations UK Source: Unpublished estimates of employment: Warwick Institute for Employment Research / Cambridge Econometrics, 2005

6 Previous research on graduate careers and outcomes Higher education choices gendered – in terms of subject choices and qualifications achieved Women benefit from degree financially more than men BUT Graduate women are more likely to be in non-graduate employment than male peers and are less likely to be satisfied with career progression Gender pay gap – that widens as careers progress (from first job to outcomes 7 years on) Gendered graduate labour market – in terms of sectoral, occupational outcomes Living in partnerships and having children widens gender pay gap and impacts on career planning. Women value high earnings less and having work of social value more than men BUT similarities in career attitudes and expectations High-flying women make different choices, report reduced bargaining power than male peers Surprising incidence of women in early-mid-30s making career changes as a result of values (desire for generativity?) and for expediency in terms of accommodating family-building plans.

7 Sector of employment at time of survey, by gender Source: Class of 99 survey (Purcell et al. 2006)

8 Occupation held at time of survey % Source: Class of 99 survey (Purcell et al. 2006)

9 The impact of sector and occupation: three examples Subject studied HumanitiesLawEngineering MalesFemalesMalesFemalesMalesFemales Gender ratios44:5650:5090:10 Average earnings£30,033£24,114£43,458£33,824£31,837£28,789 Gender pay gap 20%22 %10% Using degree subject knowledge in current job 31%37%85%79%75%50% Using degree skills69%74%94%89%86%75% Source: Seven Years On: a survey of the career paths of 1995 graduates (Purcell and Elias 2005)

10 Initial population census with targeted follow-up of under-represented groups. Reliance exclusively on web-based data collection. Contact with universities and colleges to maintain contact and rebalancing. Substantial resources devoted to: retention of sample members; co-ordination across HECSU wider research programme; dissemination of research findings. Longitudinal pilot survey, question testing, consultative approach to identification of priorities at each wave. Futuretrack - The Research Design

11 Futuretrack Wave One: Population and response

12 Outcomes of applications, all applicants

13 Multivariate analysis results*: factors relating to a successful application Strongest association is with tariff points Age and gender (19-20 age group has increased likelihood of success, as do men) Social background significant, but effect not large Ethnicity matters - but only for a few groups: Asian Pakistani, Asian other, Black African, Black other have lower probability of success Expectation of place in 1992 university Small effect from Father has HE quals

14 Subject applied for, comparing male and female distributions (accepted applicants)

15 Career decision-making prior to HE application…. Why did they apply to study on full-time HE courses? Why did thy choose to study at that particular university or college? Why did they choose that subject or discipline? What access did they have to career information and guidance?

16 Reasons for applying to HE by gender

17 Percentage giving 'it will enable me to stay at home' as reason for choice of HEI, comparing ethnic origin by gender

18 Reasons for choice of subject by gender

19 Subjects of study showing gender ratios

20 Not enough information about items identified, comparing selected school students responses by gender

21 Not enough information about the implications of post-16 subject choices, comparing selected school students response by gender

22 Degree of clarity about career ambitions, by gender

23 Career planning by subject

24 Clarity of ideas about eventual occupation, main Business and Management sub-groups

25 Clarity of ideas about the occupation I eventually want to enter and the qualifications required to do so

26 Self-evaluated key skills, by gender

27 Self-rated excellent or very good numeracy skills by selected subject groups

28 Ethnicity and the gender confidence gap

29 Questions to be followed through How far are vocational reasons related to actual or anticipated (gendered) caring roles? How far do attitudes and aspirations change as a result of HE participation and acquisition of skills and knowledge – and how does this differ according to subject and the gender balance of membership groups? How (and why) do gender outcomes differ during and beyond HE? Does the gender confidence gap increase or shrink over the HE career? How far is numeracy competence related to a) self-confidence and b) career outcomes?

30 For further information on research discussed and related projects: see HECSU has developed a website primarily for Futuretrack members to provide information designed to encourage them to keep in touch with the project at: Futuretrack methodological enquiries to the research team at

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