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Disparities in work-integrated learning experiences for students who present as women: an international study of biases, barriers, and challenges

Purpose – This study identifies gendered disparities among women students participating in work-integrated learning and explores the effects of the disparities on their perceptions on perceived opportunities, competencies, sense of belonging, and professional identity.
Design/methodology/approach –Aseries of semi-structured focus groups were run with 59 participants at
six higher education institutions in four countries (Australia, Canada, Sweden, United Kingdom). All focus
groups were designed with the same questions and formatting.
Findings – Thematic analysis of the transcripts revealed two overarching themes, namely perceptions of self and interactions with others in work placements. Theme categories included awareness of self-presentation, sense of autonomy, perceived Allies, emotional labour, barriers to opportunity, sense of belonging, intersections of identity, and validation value.
Originality/value – This study fills an important gap in the international literature about gendered
experiences in WIL and highlights inequalities that women experience while on work placements.

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