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Using quantitative and qualitative longitudinal data to understand womens careers Jane Elliott Centre for Longitudinal Studies Institute of Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Using quantitative and qualitative longitudinal data to understand womens careers Jane Elliott Centre for Longitudinal Studies Institute of Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using quantitative and qualitative longitudinal data to understand womens careers Jane Elliott Centre for Longitudinal Studies Institute of Education

2 Using quantitative and qualitative longitudinal data to understand womens careers What can quantitative longitudinal data tell us about womens employment behaviour? What does qualitative evidence have to offer? Diversity of approaches to qualitative research: –Understanding processes –Understanding cultural context –The reflexive self?

3 Understanding changes in British womens employment behaviour (1) Increase in womens employment in Britain since the 1950s –Women spending less time out of the labour market if/when they become mothers –Greater availability of part-time employment since 1960s –Changing attitudes towards working mothers –Persistent gender inequality in employment

4 Understanding changes in British womens employment behaviour (2) This leads to the following research questions –What is the role of part-time employment in womens careers? –Does time spent out of the labour market impact on occupational attainment? –Does time in part-time employment impact on occupational attainment? –Is part-time work a bridge or a trap? –Do women choose to work part time?

5 Data: National Child Development Survey (1958 cohort) Representative sample of over 17,000 infants born in March 1958 Sample followed at ages 7, 11, 16, 23, 33, 42 Retrospective life history data collected at age 33 –work history –partnership history –fertility history –housing history Provides longitudinal (event history data) on over 5000 women aged 33 in 1991 (Data now available for women aged 42)

6 Hypothetical life history x Born 1958 Leave school 1974 Get married st Child nd Child 1987 Job 1Job 2 Working full-time Job 3 Working part-time

7 Approach to Event History analysis Data is available for each month of womens life histories between age 16 and 33. This data was discretised to form a data matrixdata matrix Logistic regression was used to estimate models to indicate which factors were associated with transitions back into the labour market. Logistic regression models do not allow for the link between woman/months at the level of the individual woman. More sophisticated mixture models i.e. random effects models were therefore estimated using the SABRE software to exploit the structure of the data.

8 Summary of main results from mixture models using NCDS data

9 Issues that remain despite advantages of longitudinal quantitative data Is it possible to talk about causality when we only have observational data? Problems of model uncertainty are frequently understated Need for good theoretical basis to underpin models (Goldthorpe 2001) Need for qualitative data to understand mechanisms and processes Important to understand cultural constraints and role of choice

10 What does qualitative evidence have to offer? Provides greater detail –Improving validity –Understanding processes Reveals cultural norms and constraints on behaviour Potentially gives access to reflexivity and the role of identity in shaping behaviour

11 Qualitative material Biographical interviews with women born in 1958 Each interview lasted approximately 90 minutes Focus on issues of balancing work and family life & on career since leaving university Interviews tape recorded and transcribed in full for analysis

12 Interview extract 1: Understanding processes & duration effects I want to get a job just purely from the financial side of things, but obviously it's very limited in terms of, you know, school hours and school holidays and things like that. So I want to do something at least part-time, but I'm not sure yet whether my best bet is to do a word-processing course or something to get up to date on skills like that, or whether to just go ahead and sort of like apply and temp or something like that. I think it's partly a confidence thing, that it's been more than sort of eight years since I was at work, and it's like having to throw yourself into the work market again, and everything. So I'm kind of sitting back and thinking that's what I might do, but I haven't actually done anything about it yet. (Int. 1: Graduate woman aged 40, born 1958)

13 Interview extract 2: cultural expectations & taking opportunities Um, What I'd said was, I'd like to do more[work] after she [daughter] started school. But the girl who was doing the job in 1992 um... decided to go to New Zealand, I think, um so the job was being advertised as full-time. Again it was full-time or nothing. And so I decided to apply for it then, my thinking at that stage being um, if I don't apply now, um, there won't be another chance for maybe four or five years. (Int. 2: Graduate woman aged 40, born 1958)

14 Qualitative interviews: gendered assumptions a) her partners career would take priority over her own, b) her employment, rather than her partners employment, would be structured around the needs of their children c) she would take primary responsibility for the day to day care of their children and for organising any external child care.

15 Interview extracts 3: gendered assumptions So obviously, you know, we sort of stayed in this area because that's where his job was, really. (Int 1) He um did a PhD at Manchester. He did a BSc in biochemistry, then a PhD, and that's why we came down here on a three-year post-doc post. (Int 2) He became qualified, and then we worked abroad, but he - well, in fact we both worked abroad, but we went because of his job abroad. (Int 4) I was still at Manchester but then I stayed for my um solicitors' exams because Charles, he had a fourth year of his degree to do in Manchester, and I was able to do my solicitors exams at Manchester Poly. (Int 6)

16 Interview extracts 4: from motherhood to parenthood? You can't be Miss Top-of-the-ladder career-woman when you've got to take the day off at a moment's notice because a child's spent the night being sick. You know? Um, and that's very much the case. One of you's got to sort of at least be available to do that. And I mean my husband's job is the sort of job where, you know, he's got to go every day. It's not the kind of thing where he can work at home some of the time or, you know, fit round with other things (Int. 1: Graduate woman aged 40, born 1958) I know that in some ways I've chosen not to be the career one in the house, because - or the successful one, in terms of career, in the house. Um... because I really believe that one parent has to not be as career minded, if you've got children. (Int. 4: Graduate woman aged 40, born 1958)

17 Interview extracts 4: from motherhood to parenthood? Although Dave's a teacher, so I think one (of the) partnership must be a teacher, it's a prerequisite. With children they get the holidays, so he's at home now in the Easter holidays with them. So that's not a problem. (Int. 2: Graduate woman aged 40, born 1958)

18 Ambiguity, change and reflexivity? I was determined to get my qualifications in my own name…Um, it was my ambition really to get a - some sort of a lectureship or job in clinical audiology…I decided to marry the chap! [laughs] Because they asked me at the interview for the job in ***, why have you applied? And, well, the honest answer was, well, I married a chap and he's moving down here, I need a job, thought I'd better move with him…anyway, he was looking for posts, and I knew I would need a post as well if he got something. Refused to apply for anything until he had got something… And when we got married, I um I told him five years for children. Didn't want children straight away. I said, five years, give me five years. And then I was still saying five years! [laughing] (Extracts from interview 2)

19 Ambiguity, change and reflexivity? So I decided to go back to work, um full-time, just to see what it was like. I said then - I remember saying that I didn't want to hold it against him for the rest of his life that he'd stopped my career. You know, all this blah! So I went back to work full- time when he was um five months old …(Extract from interview 2)

20 Summarising the qualitative interviews Interviews structured around gendered expectations about responsibility for children. However, this dominant theme is subverted in some places in the interviews Individuals do not present themselves as having stable, unified preferences –room for tension and ambiguity

21 Identity Structural constraints ChoicesBehaviour Model of behaviour using only quantitative longitudinal data?

22 Structural constraints ChoicesBehaviour Cultural context Reflexivity Identity Combining qualitative and quantitative evidence? Identity

23 Advantages of combining qualitative and quantitative longitudinal research Suggests process and mechanisms that may provide the causal links in the model Suggests new variables to include Brings results to life for non-specialist audience Provides evidence of cultural norms and constraints (& how these change) Qualitative evidence is a reminder of the reflexive self, agency and social change.

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