Saffron Passam, a researcher from Aberystwyth University, discusses a collaborative relationship with Joanne Hopkins, chair of the Home Office Women’s Network and senior sponsor to the Gender Equality Network, whose role includes responding to the priorities of gender, diversity, and inclusion matters. In a joint project, they seek to develop a better understanding of the barriers facing female graduates from lower socio-economic backgrounds who may aspire to progress within the Civil Service.
Higher education has long represented an opportunity for upward mobility, considered an escape route from restricted occupations. But a graduate’s background is also acknowledged to impact where, and how, they enter the workforce, irrespective of their efforts and ability.
This issue is topical for the Home Office and across the Civil Service. Recent publications have highlighted that people from the poorest backgrounds are under-represented in the Civil Service Fast Stream programme. Similarly, the Sutton Trust showed that only 23% of senior Civil Service employees attended a comprehensive school, and 7% attended universities outside of the top 30. These figures indicate a huge range of untapped skills and experience.
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