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Is there an old girls’ network? Girls’ schools and recruitment to the British elite

Worth, Eve, Reeves, Aaron ORCID: 0000-0001-9114-965X and Friedman, Sam (2023) Is there an old girls’ network? Girls’ schools and recruitment to the British elite. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 44 (1). 1 - 25. ISSN 0142-5692

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Identification Number: 10.1080/01425692.2022.2132472


Private schools have long played a crucial role in male elite formation but their importance to women’s trajectories is less clear. In this paper, we explore the relationship between girls’ private schools and elite recruitment in Britain over the past 120 years–drawing on the historical database of Who’s Who, a unique catalogue of the elite. We find that alumni of elite girls schools have been around 20 times more likely than other women to reach elite positions. They are also more likely to follow particular channels of elite recruitment, via the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, private members clubs and elite spouses. Yet such schools have also consistently been less propulsive than their male-only counterparts. We argue this is rooted in the ambivalent aims of girls elite education, where there has been a longstanding tension between promoting academic achievement and upholding traditional processes of gendered social reproduction.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: International Inequalities Institute
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2022 11:09
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 06:24

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