Jessica Benson Egglenton

Jessica Benson Egglenton

Understanding higher education inequalities in England: Policy discourses and lived experiences of white, working-class girls


Discipline/professional area

Outline of research project

My research aims to understand inequalities in progression to higher education in England, both as they are constructed in widening participation policy and how they are experienced by girls at an intersection of class and ethnicity/race with relatively low rates of HE participation. At a micro-level, narrative interview methods will be used to understand the lived experiences of white, working-class girls who have progressed to university: what shaped these journeys; in what ways are they classed, gendered and raced; how these young women ‘make sense’ of their educational success. At a macro-level, policy discourse analysis will examine how the ‘problem’ of HE participation inequalities, the ‘solution’ of the WP agenda, and the individuals and groups that are the target of this agenda are constructed. Bringing these levels together, the research will ask how white, working-class girls' narratives of progressing to HE support and/or subvert dominant policy discourses.

Director of studies
Professor Colin McCaig

Professor Colin McCaig
Professor Nicola Ingram 
Dr Jean Harris-Evans 

Expected Completion date
September 2025

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