Alumni from Britain’s top girls’ public schools 20 times more likely to reach elite positions

Cheltenham Ladies' College,
CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

DSPI’s Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, Aaron Reeves, was the co-author of a recently published study into the influence of educational background on women achieving elite status.  

The paper entitled Is there an old girls’ network? Girls’ schools and recruitment to the British elite was authored by Professor Reeves, alongside researchers from the University of Exeter and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Its findings show that the alumni of 12 leading girls’ public schools are 20 times more likely to reach the most powerful elite positions in British society than women who attended other schools. The study also found that this figure, though high, still compares unfavourably with their male counterparts, who are 35 times more likely to reach the elite positions. The findings were based on a comprehensive historical analysis of Who’s Who, the leading guide to the most prominent and influential people in the UK. 

Professor Reeves said: “There have been numerous films, books, and TV shows dedicated to exploring how Britain’s fortunes as a country have been tied to the actions, ideologies, and rivalries of the alumni of certain elite boys’ schools. And yet, there has been surprisingly little attention given to the alumni of elite girls’ schools, especially given the enduring influence that some of these schools have had on propelling their alumni in positions of power and influence.” 

Read the study Is there an old girls' network? Girls’ schools and recruitment to the British elite by Eve Worth, Aaron Reeves and Sam Friedman here.