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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Dimensions of educational stratification : non-standard employment, workplace task discretion, and educational beliefs Pullman, Ashley Michelle


My dissertation consists of three distinct yet interrelated studies. Its purpose is to extend research and theory on inequality by investigating three educational outcomes: non-standard employment, workplace task discretion, and intrinsic and extrinsic educational beliefs. As a body of work, my research generates insight into how the level and type of educational attainment affect divergent life course pathways. The first study examines gender inequality in early career part-time and temporary employment in Canada. Through two types of decomposition analyses, I research non-standard employment across four cohorts graduating between 1990 and 2010, studying the extent to which gender stratification within fields of study or systemic employment inequality contribute to dissimilar outcomes. I find that rates of non-standard employment vary substantially across disciplines. Furthermore, the over and under-representation of women in certain fields is a main factor explaining gender differences in temporary employment but cannot fully account for disparities in part-time employment. The second study researches the relationship between education and workplace task discretion in 30 countries. Through regression and decomposition analyses, I examine the direct association between education and task discretion and the extent to which skill and occupational sector function as mediators. I compare individual-agency and critical-institutional theoretical perspectives as explanations for direct and indirect associations. My findings mainly support critical-institutional accounts and yield evidence of a relative relationship between education and task discretion. That is, in contexts where task discretion is higher overall and more equal among occupations, education, skill, and occupational sector are less significant mechanisms of stratification. The third study considers how intrinsic and extrinsic educational beliefs change over adulthood. My research is based on a longitudinal study that repeatedly surveyed the same graduating British Columbia high school cohort over 28 years. Through hierarchical growth modelling, I contrast demographic and experience-based explanations to consider the influence of social origin and individual education and employment participation over time. The findings suggest that both life course experiences and social position have an influence on initial educational beliefs in early adulthood and the rate of change over time. Additionally, educational beliefs are more variable in early adulthood and become more stable later in participants’ life courses.

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