Masculinities, Margins and Mobilities: Understanding how first-in-family males in Year 12 transition to Australian university

Year: 2017

Author: Stahl, Garth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

First-in-family males remain severely underrepresented in Australian higher education (Lamb et al. 2015). The central question of this project is "How do 'first-in-family' (FIF) males transition to and experience Australian university study in different locales and institutions?" The main aim of the project is to understand the role that gender - interacting with low SES status and ethnicity - plays in FIF males becoming socially mobile. Investigating how boys become socially mobile and pursue higher education to expand their opportunities requires an intersectional analytical framework for in-depth analysis of their acclimatisation to new learning environments. This presentation focuses on understanding how experiences at high school, the use of formal and informal support, and geographical locations contribute to FIF males' transition to university. My interest is in how the boys are constituted in their institutions and how this constitution influences their aspirations. Research on social mobility has documented that 'school effects' (Donnolly 2015) play a significant role in the transition to the first year of university (Gofen 2009) where such experiences either positively or negatively influence FIF students' success at university. According to Donnolly (2015) the concept of 'school effects' draws on multiple theoretical frameworks to interrogate how school cultures (intakes, organisational practices and processes) influence how students transition into university. This presentations focuses on institutional factors influencing first-in-family males to pursue university. Specific attention is given to career guidance counseling, timetabling, mentorship, teacher-student relationships, curriculum in relation to ATAR scores. It is argued that these institutional factors contribute to how students are portrayed and how they strategically play the game. The funded research draws on semi-structured interviews with school leaders and Year 12 first-in-family males across six different school sites in the northern suburbs of Adelaide and the western suburbs of Sydney.