Gender, identity and change : mature women students in universities
Merrill, Barbara (1996) Gender, identity and change : mature women students in universities. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
WRAP_THESIS_Merrill_1996.pdf - Submitted Version - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1402628~S1
In recent years policy changes have encouraged access to and the participation of
adults in British universities. This thesis is a case study which looks at the experiences
of non-traditional adult women students in universities. Emphasis is placed on
understanding the experiences of mature undergraduate women students in universities
from the perspectives of the actors. This is a sociological study. I draw on and
integrate three theoretical paradigms: Marxist feminism, Marxism and interactionism. I
examine the significance of macro and micro levels in shaping the behaviour, attitudes
and experiences of women adult students.
Gender and class were important factors in shaping the past and present lives of
women in this study. However, in deciding to return to learn the women were actively
choosing to change the direction of their lives. An underlying question was to what
extent did studying change the way participants perceived themselves as women?
Learning and the influence of social science disciplines helped the women to
deconstruct and redefine the self. Being a student was influenced by the interaction of
structure and agency. The women's student identity was shaped by both their own
actions and institutional forces.
Adult students are not homogeneous. Younger, single mature women experienced
university life differently from older, married women as do full-time students compared
to part-time students. The women studied here adjusted to the institutional life of a
university through the formation of subcultures. To understand fully the experiences of
being an adult student the interactions between public and private worlds are
examined. A biographical approach using interviews was employed. A small sample of
male mature students was included to identify the extent to which experiences were
gendered ones. Despite the struggles the women interviewed valued the acquisition of
knowledge and learning in a university environment.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Women -- Education (Higher) -- Great Britain, Adult education of women -- Great Britain, Undergraduates -- Great Britain|
|Official Date:||July 1996|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Continuing Education|
|Extent:||v, 328 leaves|
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