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The ‘mirrored ceiling’: young undergraduate student women’s expectations of gendered career opportunities and constraints

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journal contribution
posted on 09.08.2021, 13:58 by Emma BatesEmma Bates, Louise HoltLouise Holt
This paper examines young women university students’ expectations of gender inequalities in the workplace, drawing upon semi-structured interviews with twenty-one young women at three mid-high ranking universities. Our original findings show that the young women were factoring-in expectations of the gendered workplace as a backdrop to their career choices and life-planning. Critically, these young women are relatively privileged and educationally successful, yet are framing their career choices in light of expectations of gendered constraints. We label this phenomenon the ‘mirrored ceiling’, as these expectations are reflected back onto young women’s current experiences and life-mapping. Crucially, these pervasive understandings of gendered workplaces and career trajectories were transpiring at a critical moment when young women are making crucial choices about their careers and lifecourses. The specific environment of the university is a pivotal space of formal and informal learning, and the circulation, sharing and (re)production of the mirrored ceiling. This is also a key moment in time and space when careers services, and specific industries could intervene in proactive ways to demonstrate how gender inequalities are being challenged. This paper therefore uncovers an important, and previously overlooked factor influencing gendered career pathways, which needs addressing by careers services and broader university practices.

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Social and Cultural Geography

Publisher

Taylor and Francis

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Taylor & Francis under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Acceptance date

24/03/2021

Publication date

2021-07-14

Copyright date

2021

ISSN

1464-9365

eISSN

1470-1197

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Louise Holt. Deposit date: 14 May 2021