Occupational choice for girls: a sociological study of the constraints on the routes taken by a small group of girls in a college of further education

Sherratt, Norma Margaret (1982). Occupational choice for girls: a sociological study of the constraints on the routes taken by a small group of girls in a college of further education. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f816

Abstract

Any explanation of the routes girls take into employment or further/higher education (routes generally leading to the female sector of the labour force) must involve consideration of the constraints on any choices they make, the relationship between objective constraints and those stemming from their own aspirations, and the different forms taken by constraints according to class and ability divisions. The aim of this work is to trace the careers, in both the objective and subjective senses, of a group of girls as they make educational/occupational choices, in order to gain a greater understanding of these constraints. And it is shown that, in this case, of a group of sixteen-seventeen year olds just starting general GCE courses at a college of further education, whilst the eventual entry of all into female areas of employment can be understood as a product, primarily, of past experiences in the school and the family, the eventual entry of the majority into "dead end" female areas of employment, in contrast to those few who entered training for a "career", is best understood as the product of a process of "opting out" of education without any great increase in qualifications. And it is suggested that this is due primarily to the interaction between
awareness of objective constraints and a central life interest of "glamour". It is the modification of a subjective career dominated by notions of "having a career" to one in which, in response to a realisation of how long and difficult and boring it will be to maintain this aim, some form of displacement of occupational careers takes place, which forms the centre of the analysis. And the report concludes by suggesting the relevance of the concept of a "glamorous" career to any discussion of feminine careers; and in particular to any attempt to understand the routes taken by girls for whom neither "domestic" careers nor "occupational" careers seem adequate conceptualisations.

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