Returning to STEM: gendered factors affecting employability for mature women students

Herman, Clem (2015). Returning to STEM: gendered factors affecting employability for mature women students. Journal of Education and Work, 28(6) pp. 571–591.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13639080.2014.887198

Abstract

This paper adds to current discourses around employability by arguing for an explicit recognition of gender, in particular in relation to women’s employment in male-dominated sectors such as science, engineering and technology. This is not limited to young first-time graduates but continues and evolves throughout the life course. Mature women students, who are returning after career breaks, face a number of barriers in re-entering such employment sectors. Drawing on data from a longitudinal study of women graduates in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, who participated in a UK government-funded online programme aimed at supporting them to return to work, the paper examines three gendered factors identified as being of particular influence on outcomes – gender role normativity, locality and mobility, and structural and institutional barriers. The paper concludes by identifying strategies deployed by those that successfully returned to employment, including retraining, networking and doing unpaid or low-paid work

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