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Who cares? Gender dynamics in the valuing of extra-curricular activities in higher education

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Despite the assertion that higher education is becoming increasingly ‘feminised’ and that male students are the relative losers, gendered meanings continue to permeate higher education in ways that mean that the recognition of women's experiences are frequently marginalised. Our paper reports on research designed to explore student participation in extra-curricular activity from a perspective informed by a broader conceptualisation of the extra-curricular as a site of gendered, raced, and class practices intimately tied to the development of an employable self. We found that women frequently undervalue their participation and are more likely to be dismissive of extra-curricular activity as of value to their employability than men and that they rarely consider caring to be a form of capital which can be utilised or invested in to support their future employment. We argue that higher education institutions need to support students, in particular women, to recognise the value of their participation.
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Keywords: cultural capital; employability; extra-curricular activity; gender equity; higher education; students

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Research into Higher Education,Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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