Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Studies in Higher Education


Taylor & Francis


School of Medical and Health Sciences / School of Nursing and Midwifery / School of Arts and Humanities




Andrew, L., Robinson, K., Costello, L., & Dare, J. (2022). Competing worlds: The private lives of women nurse students and gender equity in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 47(6), 1171-1183.


© 2020 Society for Research into Higher Education. A longitudinal qualitative study of undergraduate women nursing students demonstrated the profound and pervasive influence of the heterosexual intimate relationship on their university engagement and achievement. Hitherto, the importance of women’s private lives have been underappreciated in the arenas of student equity and retention. The study showed that traditional ideas of gender held within the intimate relationship were highly detrimental to student autonomy and capacity to engage, and that the university’s organisation and delivery of the curriculum exacerbated the situation. Participants made personal sacrifices, which, while enabling continuation of their studies, were deleterious to academic achievement and wellbeing. For eight women, this involved separation from their partners. These results have generic implications given the renewed focus on gender equity in higher education. They have specific implications for nurse education, given the rising numbers of mature-age women nurse students, and predicted nursing workforce shortages.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.