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The impact of partnership and family-building on the early careers of female graduates in the UK

Purcell, Kate; Wilton, Nick


Kate Purcell

Nicholas Wilton
Faculty Academic Director - Strategic Partnerships


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to outline the impact of partnership and familybuilding on the aspirations, expectations and orientations to work of a sample of highly qualified women working across a range of industry sectors. Design/methodology/approach – This paper draws on both qualitative and quantitative data collected in a longitudinal study of the early careers of UK graduates, incorporating both a largescale questionnaire survey and detailed interviews with a sample of respondents. Findings – This paper highlights the persistence of gender asymmetries in both employment and domestic partnership and shows the complex decisionmaking process which determines career prioritization among equally highly qualified partners. It also provides evidence of change in the values, priorities and orientations to work and the worklife balance of UK graduates as they progress through early career development. Practical implications – The extent to which highly qualified women use (and are sometimes precipitated by circumstances into using) the life stage associated with stable partnership formation and familybuilding to reassess values and priorities has implications for both policymakers and employers. In particular, employers need to take account of changing orientations in work and life stage in formulating effective recruitment and retention strategies for highqualified workers. Originality/value – This paper provides new data on how dualcareer partnerships negotiate the transition from, in career terms, single entities into dyads and the dynamics of gender role change and stability. © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Purcell, K., Wilton, N., & Pucell, K. (2010). The impact of partnership and family-building on the early careers of female graduates in the UK. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 29(3), 271-288.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 26, 2010
Journal Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal
Print ISSN 2040-7149
Electronic ISSN 1758-7093
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 3
Pages 271-288
Keywords graduates, dual-career couples, gender, family roles, equal opportunities, United Kingdom
Public URL
Publisher URL