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'Having It All' and the Discourse of Equal Opportunity: Reflections on choices and changing perceptions

Aveling, N. (2002) 'Having It All' and the Discourse of Equal Opportunity: Reflections on choices and changing perceptions. Gender and Education, 14 (3). pp. 265-280.

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Schooling has come to be viewed as an important site for the reproduction of gender relations and as a site for intervention and change. This article reports on a longitudinal study that explores the ways in which a group of young women--who had gone to school during an era of 'equal opportunity'--made decisions about their future careers and the ways in which they thought their life-paths would unfold. More than a decade later, the problem of 'having it all' had begun to surface for some of them. Those women who had already become mothers increasingly found that instead of effortlessly being able to combine the demands of small children with the pressures of a challenging job, a more workable option was to put their careers 'on hold'. While these women have demonstrated that they can succeed on male terms, a number of competing discourses, coupled with a workplace culture that enshrined male patterns of participation as the norm, ensured that their work patterns essentially replicated the employment patterns of women of an earlier generation. Certainly, this group of young women are reconciling the expectations of 'equal opportunity' with a quite different reality.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Carfax Publishing Ltd.
Copyright: 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd.
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