Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management
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Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management

Getting In, Getting On, Getting Out

Edited by Adelina M. Broadbridge and Sandra L. Fielden

Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management provides an international overview of current practice and theory surrounding gendered employment in management, illustrating the impact of gender on key stages of career development.
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Chapter 2: The internship class: subjectivity and inequalities – gender, race and class

Elaine Swan


This chapter will show how internships are increasingly the first step into a career, but a step structured by inequalities. The chapter argues that gender, race and class affect access to internships. Thus, many unpaid internships are in feminized professions, and the cultural performance of femininity inflects the subjectivity expected on many internships. The focus of this chapter is the category ‘internship’ but there are various terms for work-related experience. The names vary with the length of the experience, depending on whether they are school or university related and their timing in a degree course (Lawton and Potter, 2010; Perlin, 2011; Allen et al., 2013). Terms include: work experience, placement, practicum, industry experience, sandwich placements. Interns may be school students, undergraduates, graduates, postgraduates and even people mid-career looking to change careers (Perlin, 2011). Internships vary in length from a few days, a few weeks to a whole year. They may be paid, but some are unpaid because internships are constructed as an ‘opportunity’ not a ‘job’ with clear role description and conditions. This is the case in many countries including the USA, Germany, Australia and the UK. For example, a recent survey in the UK found that just under a fifth of internships did not pay a wage and just under a third paid less than the adult minimum wage (Lawton and Potter, 2010).

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