Gender & Education Conference Australia

My paper has been accepted for presentation at the Gender and Education Conference in Melbourne, Australia in December 2015.

The costs of transportation, accommodation, and conference fees amount to the equivalent of four months worth of rent for me.  I am applying for grant funding from any source I can find.  If I receive funding from those grants, I will update this page.  I welcome any suggestions of sources of funding, so if you know of any grants, please let me know.

This is an opportunity to present my findings at an international conference for the first time (and possibly only time because of my finances).  My doctoral research is focused on the university experience of the daughters of single mothers in the UK.

I am a first-generation student from a working-class family. Growing up, I never imagined that I would be the first in my family to go to university, let alone the first to go on to earn my doctorate and find a passion for a career in academia. My career aspiration is to find a university position that allows me to support underrepresented students, such as first generation students, in their effort to achieve their academic goals and persist through to degree completion.  I am funding my PhD through student loans, so I will have a mountain of debt when I finish in 2015.  I chose to do this because my passion, my purpose, my calling is to work with and advocate for (through research) underrepresented students in university.

My paper title is: People like me: the university experiences of the daughters of single mothers in the UK

Abstract: “I started university doubting that ‘people like me’ are good enough. … My story reifies the neo-liberal narrative that if you work hard, if you make sacrifices and that if you ‘want’ to then anyone can achieve, no matter their background, their problems or their financial status. What’s sad is that that narrative is wrong.”

Many of the existing widening participation policies in the United Kingdom are primarily focused on access to higher education and not on participation within higher education, including achievement, retention, and persistence. Findings from the 2011 census indicate that single parent families represent 26 percent of all families with children in the UK. This figure mirrors findings from the 2011 census in Australia. Some studies have suggested that the children of single mothers are less likely to participate in higher education. For many students from backgrounds that have been traditionally less represented within higher education, such as first-generation students, their sense of belonging impacts upon their overall university experience.

This presentation examines the intersectionalities of gender, socio-economic class, and family status as they impact upon the university experiences of the daughters of single mothers who are first-generation students in the United Kingdom through a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with and reflective writings from 26 students who are currently pursuing or have recently completed an undergraduate degree. Data was collected during spring and summer of 2013. The theoretical and conceptual frameworks upon which this doctoral study are built include feminist theory, intersectionality theory, and social exclusion.

I realise that most of my family and friends cannot afford to donate.  I am always and forever grateful for the love and support that you have all provided me over the years and I certainly do not expect you to give if you cannot afford to.  I also understand if some of you would rather not support an individual person's conference trip.  Alternatively, may I suggest donating to Reclaim the Night Brighton 2014: or come along to one of the monthly FemRock events in Brighton to help raise funds for local charities:

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Thank you!!!
  • GEA Conference 
    • £135 (Offline)
    • 81 mos
  • Mark Roth 
    • £200 
    • 81 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • £250 
    • 81 mos
  • Travel grant from my department 
    • £250 (Offline)
    • 82 mos
  • Travel Grant from Sussex 
    • £1,000 (Offline)
    • 82 mos
See all


Jessica Gagnon 
Brighton, South East England, United Kingdom
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