Maintaining the gap: women’s early career experiences of entry into the UK graduate labour market

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Gender inequality in the workplace remains a persistent issue that impacts upon women from their first point of entry into the labour market. In this paper, we explore the experiences, of 20 women in the UK as they take their initial steps onto the career ladder upon graduation. Adopting an interpretive methodology that uses a Bourdieusian framework based on habitus, capital, and field, we highlight that women continue to face structural and individual barriers that influence, and in many cases limit, available career opportunities. By intersecting gender with social class and ethnicity, intra-gender differences are identified that demonstrate the deep-seated nature of disadvantage faced by working class and ethnic minority female graduates in securing employment in comparison to their white, middle-class peers. We conclude by recommending that careers support and guidance should be introduced earlier in the education system to raise aspirations and challenge the perpetuation of gender inequality.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Education and Work
Early online date24 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Feb 2024

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