The Career Aspirations and Expectations of Young Black Women: The Maintenance of Inequality

Mirza, Heidi. 1988. The Career Aspirations and Expectations of Young Black Women: The Maintenance of Inequality. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This study is an investigation into the career aspirations and expectations of 62 second generation, Afro-Carribean, young women. The belief that, in a meritocratic society, the occupational outcomes of the pupils should be a reflection of their educational achievements, regardless of class, race, or gender, is subject to critical appraisal.

Investigations conducted in two South London Schools, over a period of 18 months, explored the occupational choice processes of 198 male and female pupils aged between 15-18 years. The results of the investigation suggest that the higher (in terms of social class) and distinct aspirations of young black women can be explained by their historically specific and culturally unique experience of the labour market.

Young black womens' particular expectations of the labour market are characterised, in the main, by a cultural disposition that supports female labour market participation. This participation, however, takes place within the limited opportunities afforded by a racially and sexually segregated labour market. The subjective rationalising of labour market limitations explains, in part, the distinct qualities that characterise young black womens' career choices.

Other evidence suggested that these distinct qualities also owed much to the west Indian female experience of schooling. Schools were seen to play a crucial part in both structuring and restricting black female occupational aspirations and expectations. Access to vital career information, active discouragement and discrimination, poor educational standards, leading to poor qualifications, were some of the material obstacles encountered by young black working class women when making their career choices.

In conclusion, the evidence suggests that, whatever the educational level or labour market disposition of these young black women, their occupational location is subject to a variety of factors, in particular, labour market structures and educational resources. Inequalities based on race, gender, and class remain an integral feature of this society in spite of its ideology of meritocracy.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Afro-Carribean women, career aspirations, labour market, education, race, gender, class

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Date Deposited:

05 Jun 2020 08:34

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:35


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