Beth Jenkins

Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of History
 Beth Jenkins



I am a historian of modern Britain, with specific research interests in women, education and paid work. I sit on the Women’s History Network steering committee, and have previously worked for the Heritage Lottery Fund and widening-participation charity The Brilliant Club. I taught as a Lecturer in Modern British History at Cardiff University 2016-17, and I joined the University of Essex in 2018 as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow. I am currently working on two major research projects: The first project, based partly on my AHRC-funded doctoral research, will provide the first major study of the careers of women who attended civic universities in Britain from the late nineteenth century to the outbreak of the Second World War. Supported by a sample of 2,000 women who studied at the university colleges in Wales, the study foregrounds the educational experiences and subsequent employment of working-class and lower-middle-class women graduates. It situates their experiences in the industrial, rural and urban communities in which they worked, and explores their relationship with broader social and political reform movements. The project focuses particularly on the importance of local community, women’s experiences of changing class status, the social role of education, gender in coeducational institutions, and women’s formal and informal networks. My postdoctoral research, funded by the British Academy, will examine gender and professional culture in Britain between 1890 and 1950 through a comparative study of five major associations. Using statistical and qualitative evidence, I will study the impact that the changing dynamics of sex segregation and integration in the workplace had on occupational concerns, associational cultures and constructions of masculinity and femininity. More broadly, I am interested in whether women-only networks helped or hindered their long-term entry into the professional workforce.

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