Part-time women teachers and their career progression: A life history approach

BROWN, Suzanne (2019). Part-time women teachers and their career progression: A life history approach. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The theoretical-methodological approach taken to this research was at the interface of ideas drawn from feminist research, life history, practice architectures (Kemmis et al, 2014) and time. This approach enabled an understanding of the lives of an under-heard, and under-represented, group of women in the teaching profession to be developed and theorised in a new way, thereby resulting in an original contribution to knowledge. This approach enabled the rigorous and transparent gathering of new and rich data from the women's perspectives of how and why a part-time pattern of working in secondary schools has limited their career progression. This type of data has, to my knowledge, not been previously gathered. Thematic analysis (Braun and Clark, 2006) was used as the interpretative framework. The three emergent themes: Practices, Perceptions and Tensions were subsequently analysed and theorised using a framework which was situated at the theoretical-methodological interface of ideas drawn from feminism, life history, practice architectures (Kemmis et al, 2014) and time. This newly gathered and theorised life history data means that an understanding of the lives of a group of women and their relationships with career progression is now available. This contribution is available to inform debate and challenge assumptions of part-time working in secondary schools and of those who enact it. Furthermore, this research makes a contribution to knowledge by helping to explain why so few senior positions in schools are occupied by those following this pattern of working. Findings emerged of the ways the participants navigated the competing and 'greedy' (Edwards, 1993) demands on their time across and within different timescapes (Adam, 1990, 2004). Inflexible school-based practices which assumed a continuous availability to work, situated within a patriarchal and linear model of time (Adam, 1990, 2004) contributed to the difficulties encountered by the participants. They navigated these practices at their own cost in terms of not having enough time to themselves, and by managing their time in highly efficient ways. Stress, guilt and anxiety emerged from the data and shaped the participants’ relationships with regard to their own career progression. Glimpses of a disconnection emerged between school-based practices and wider socio-political policies and legislation which encourage equality of opportunity and the entitlement to request flexible working. A lack of transparency in procedure and policy in school contributed to this disconnection. The participants appeared to operate in the margins of the school system, in a liminal space where their professional contributions were not as valued as their full-time colleagues, their voices were not heard and their career progression was both unlikely and resisted. These findings are significant with regard to wellbeing and the equality of opportunity for those occupying a flexible pattern of working in schools, particularly those who assume a role as a carer. The study also has wider implications for professional practice in schools around recruitment, the gender pay gap and phased retirement.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Stevenson, Jacqueline [0000-0002-3097-6763]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Jacqueline Stevenson
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 24 Dec 2019 11:46
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:08

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