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Dr Shireen Chilcott

Research student

Shireen Chilcott

Office Hours:

Tuesday 3pm until 4pm.

Research overview

My research interests include gender, gendered labour market inequalities, occupational segregation by gender, class and poverty. My current research focuses on the intersection between gender and the labour market by examining the position of women in four occupations in the non-traditional Construction Industry.

Thesis Title

Explaining the uneven gender distribution of workers across archtiecture, town planning, electrical work and plumbing.

Thesis Outline

My thesis asks 'why are there more women in the highly skilled professions of architecture and town planning, than the lesser skilled trades of electrical work and plumbing?' These occupations are interesting because they deviate from the general pattern in the UK labour market, which is for women to be disproportionately represented in occupations deemed to be low skilled and low paid and for men to predominate in high skilled, well paid occupations. In these four occupations it is the highly skilled professions of architecture and town planning, requiring high levels of education and specialist training into which women are advancing, as opposed to the lesser skilled trades of electrical work and plumbing.

To investigate this counter finding a comparative analysis of the four occupations was undertaken with reference to two theoretical frameworks, which have been mobilised to explain gendered labour market inequalities. One is human capital, which proposes that men make more of an investment in education, training and work experience than women. The other is closure, which suggests that women's access to certain occupations is restricted. There is however a third standpoint that these two theoretical frameworks may be interconnected and this thesis investigates this position and it also develops the concept of the leaky pipeline.

My research revealed that the generic entry requirements in architecture and town planning render these professions equally accessible to women and men. However, in electrical work and plumbing I suggest that the prerequisites attached to accessing and completing this specialist training, might act as mechanisms of partial closure which impede women's entry, and restrict women's progression along the occupational pipelines. I conclude that in relation to electrical work and plumbing, specialist human capital and partial closure are interconnected by these prerequisites. I also found that the female electricians and plumbers I interviewed experienced partial closure on site, in the form of the chilly climate, and this had consequences for the type of work undertaken.

Current Teaching

SOCL 101: An Introduction to Sociology.