FEMINISM COUNTS: Quantitative Methods and Feminist Research
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FEMINISM COUNTS: Quantitative Methods and Feminist Research 7th November 2008, University of Warwick Research as evidence: understanding the world in order to change it Kate Purcell Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick. What I’m going to talk about.

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FEMINISM COUNTS: Quantitative Methods and Feminist Research 7th November 2008, University of Warwick Research as evidence: understanding the world in order to change it

Kate PurcellInstitute for Employment Research, University of Warwick


What I’m going to talk about

  • A little bit of biography; where I’m coming from epistemologically, ontologically and methodologically;

  • Feminism and doing research that provides evidence to inform policy and practice;

  • The importance of measuring, counting and mapping inequalities and differences;

  • Higher education expansion;

  • Occupational change;

  • Careers;

  • The power of mixed methods research.


Background the personal is political research evolution over the last 30 years
Background: the personal is political – research evolution over the last 30 years

  • Methodologically: policy-related quantitative research – ethnography – economic sociology

  • Industrial relations /industrial sociology/ FEMINISM / gender at work/ Labour market change/ Economic and organisational restructuring /occupational change

  • Gender inequalities in employment and careers

  • The implications of HE expansion on labour market change

  • Participation in HE, subject choices and the 'Knowledge Economy’

  • Higher education, partnership and family formation


Feminist methodology
Feminist methodology? over the last 30 years

  • Critical - of concepts, definitions and categories;

  • Reflexive;

  • Concerned to minimise power relativities – particularly between researchers and researched;

  • ‘Real world research’ and eclectic – interested in ALL evidence;

  • Politically informed and engaged.


Data sources and methods drawn on over the last 30 years

  • National administrative data sources (e.g. Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, Censuses of Population and Labour Force Survey data

  • Longitudinal graduate surveys (1995 graduates recontacted in 1998/9, 2002/03 and 2005, 1999 graduates surveyed in 2003-4 and first sweep of new 2006 higher education applicant census)

  • Follow-up qualitative interviews with sub-samples of respondents

  • (See www.warwick.ac.uk/go/glmf for details)


Participation by young people in Higher Education, Age Participation Index (API) GB 1961 to 2006


Students in higher education: by type of course and gender Participation Index (API) GB 1961 to 2006(UK, 1970/71 – 2000/01)


Why? Participation Index (API) GB 1961 to 2006

  • Human capital – in particular, university-educated labour – is increasingly regarded as crucial to economic development and competitiveness

    • 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, organisational

    • 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.

  • Change in sexual division of labour and global concern with the eradication inequalities.


Ucas tariff points by gender
UCAS tariff points by gender Participation Index (API) GB 1961 to 2006


Self assessment of key skills prior to he entry by gender
Self-assessment of key skills prior to HE entry, by gender Participation Index (API) GB 1961 to 2006



Degree of clarity about career ambitions, by gender origin and gender

Source: Futuretrack Stage 1 survey (2006)


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






The combined effects of various factors on the gender difference in annual earnings of 1995 graduates seven years after graduation


Sector of employment at time of survey, by gender difference in annual earnings of 1995 graduates seven years after graduation

Source: Class of ’99 survey (Purcell et al. 2006)


Occupation held at time of survey difference in annual earnings of 1995 graduates seven years after graduation

%

Source: Class of ’99 survey (Purcell et al. 2006)


  • We have taken economic theory and econometric techniques as far as we can, yet there are still unexplained inequalities in earnings and career outcomes.

  • AND OUTCOMES (-EVEN REWARDS FROM WORK) ARE NOT JUST EARNINGS;

  • AND OTHER DIFFERENCES CAN BE COUNTED…..

  • Qualitative research (oral accounts of work histories, reasons given for decisions taken and accounts of employment experiences) indicate:

    • different contributory factors in different work contexts

    • the importance of partnership and fertility intentions

    • the importance of public versus private employment experiences

    • the role of values and motivations

    • social background, cultural capital and self-confidence as contributory factors


The impact of sector and occupation: three examples far as we can, yet there are still unexplained inequalities in earnings and career outcomes.

Source: Seven Years On: a survey of the career paths of 1995 graduates (Purcell and Elias 2005)


The SOC(HE) classification* far as we can, yet there are still unexplained inequalities in earnings and career outcomes.

  • Traditional graduate occupations

  • Modern graduate occupations

  • New graduate occupations

  • Niche graduate occupations

  • Non-graduate occupations

  • *See Elias and Purcell 2004 NIER article (on IER website)


The changing structure of graduate occupations in the UK, 1980 - 2000

Source: New Earnings Survey Panel Dataset 1975-2000


Use of skill clusters in current jobs by SOC(HE) 1980 - 2000

Source: Graduate Careers 7 Years On transcribed follow-up interview data ( 201 respondents)


Trends in the graduate labour market, by occupation, gender and earnings, 26-35 year olds in full-time jobs in 1993-94 and 2004-06

(Source: LFS data – plus ongoing work by Purcell and Elias, currently being revised for publication in 2009)


Partnership and careers 7 years after graduation: and earnings, 26-35 year olds in full-time jobs in 1993-94 and 2004-06

expectation of achieving a higher position within the next five years

Source: Graduate Careers 7 Years On Survey


Significant quantitative research findings that don’t get talked about enough and rarely make headlines

  • Higher education expansion has been disproportionately the increase of women’s HE participation

  • Women more likely than men to participate in HE; and they achieve better results.

  • But similarly-qualified female applicants to HE have lower chance of acceptance than males...

  • And gendered outcomes include:

    • persistent and increasing gender pay gap as careers progress;

    • gender segmentation in graduate jobs;

    • lower reported female satisfaction with career development;

    • persistent under-representation of women in ‘top jobs’;

    • significantly lower fertility among female graduates (around one third remaining childless at age 40).


The completion of motherhood: 22-26 year old women in 1981 by whether or not have had own children by 2001, by degree and occupation

Source: Longitudinal Census analysis (Purcell and Elias (2007 and work in progress)


Findings from quantitative analysis of 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

  • 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

  • Graduate women are more likely to be in ‘non-graduate’ employment than male peers and are less likely to be satisfied with career progression

  • Living in partnerships and having children widens gender pay gap and impacts on career planning.

  • BUT

  • Quantitative research: How many? How often? Which categories? When? and How much? Do not explain enough: the big question WHY? remains.


  • Qualitative research (oral accounts of work histories, reasons given for decisions taken and accounts of employment experiences) indicate:

    • different contributory factors in different work contexts

    • the importance of partnership and fertility intentions

    • the importance of public versus private employment experiences

    • the role of values and motivations

    • social background, cultural capital and self-confidence as contributory factors.


The qualitative follow up interviews
The qualitative follow-up interviews reasons given for decisions taken and accounts of employment experiences) indicate:

  • Women value high earnings less and having work of social value more than men BUT similarities in career attitudes and expectations and may plan lifecycle careers rather than sequential careers;

  • High-flying women, particularly those who want to have children, are coerced into or make different choices, report reduced bargaining power than male peers (- maternity leave, taking advantage of flexibility rights after childbirth, succumb to informal peer group pressures...)

  • Surprising incidence of women in early-mid-30s making career changes as a result of values (desire for generativity or withdrawal from impossible pressures?) and for expediency in terms of accommodating family-building plans.

  • Most people do not make work choices and career decisions purely in terms of their individual interests: the notion of careers and employment choices as individual needs radical rethinking.

  • Need to reconsider work group interconnections (– back to Kanter)!


[email protected] reasons given for decisions taken and accounts of employment experiences) indicate:Some of the statistics cited in the presentation are not fully referenced or derive from ongoing work. Please do not cite without permission.For further information and links relating to the research drawn on for this presentation and IER’s wider programmes of higher education and labour market research and related projects see also:http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ier/research/glmf


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