Bethany White

  • Gender and women’s history
  • Class and social mobility
  • History of education
  • Oral history

 My current doctoral research explores the role that higher education played in working-class women’s lives in the decade between 1965 and 1975. Using a life-history approach to oral history interviewing, I explore the reasons why working-class women chose to attend higher education; how they experienced higher education while there; and what the impact of higher education was on women’s subsequent lives. My thesis thus explores and challenges the historical relationship between education and social mobility, as well as interrogating the role of family and social relationships and secondary schooling on women’s educational trajectories. At the same time, I provide an analysis of subjective experiences of higher education during a period of change in post-war education policy, in which the 1960s ‘new’ universities were established, universal access to higher education grants became available, and comprehensive secondary schooling began to replace the tripartite grammar school system. In this way, my research seeks to explore the role of higher education in working-class women’s lives at a specific historical juncture, while questioning the relationship between education, class, gender, and social mobility in twentieth-century Britain.