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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The experience of underemployment for female university graduates: a phenomenological study Genschorek, Charlotte Marie


The purpose of this study was to investigate the experience of underemployment for female university graduates. In this investigation, the term underemployment was used to refer to the underutilization of one's formal education on the job, also known as overeducation. Borgen, Amundson, and Harder's (1988) definition of underemployment was adapted for use in this study: Participants were considered underemployed if they possessed more formal education than required to perform the duties of jobs held at the time of the study (as determined by 1993 National Occupational Classification [NOC] skill levels) and if they felt overeducated for their work. An opportunistic sample of 10 women was gathered through referrals, personal contacts, networking, and active recruitment. To participate, co-researchers met several criteria, including but not limited to being: (a) female, (b) university graduates with at least Bachelors' degrees, (c) objectively and subjectively underemployed (as defined in this thesis), and (d) living and working in the lower-mainland. In terms of design, a phenomenological approach was used. Data was collected through unstructured, open interviews. To extract common themes of experience from the protocols, Giorgi's (1975a, 1975b, 1985) phenomenological analysis procedures were followed. A general structural description of this experience was generated from the findings. Final results were compared with existing literature and implications for counselling theory, research, and practice were offered. Rather than relying on male-based data, the researcher hopes this information will help counsellors develop more appropriate models and interventions with which to assist underemployed female university graduates.

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