Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Dr Gill Main

University Academic Fellow: Young People and Precarity

I joined Leeds in May 2015 as a University Academic Fellow in Young People and Precarity, working with Professor Pia Christensen within the School of Education, and Professor Tracy Shildrick within the School of Sociology and Social Policy. 

My research interests are within the field of child and youth poverty, social exclusion, and well-being. Before moving to Leeds, I worked with Professor Jonathan Bradshaw as a Research Associate at the University of York, UK.

My recent research on children’s subjective well-being formed part of the international Children’s Worlds study, conducted alongside an international team from fifteen diverse countries. Previously, my research focused on child poverty and social exclusion as part of the UK Poverty and Social Exclusion Study, led by Professor Dave Gordon from the University of Bristol and spanning six UK universities. 

My academic background is in social policy, and my doctoral research, conducted in partnership with The Children’s Society, focused on the creation of an index of child poverty based on children’s own perceptions of their needs. I have published several articles and book chapters on the topics of child poverty and social exclusion, and children’s subjective well-being.

Research Interests

My primary interests are in children and young people’s well-being, poverty and social exclusion. I also interested in child and youth transitions. I am primarily a quantitative and mixed methods researcher with particular interest in survey design and analysis, and the use of survey and mixed-methods (qualitative and quantitative) research with children.

My doctoral research included a substantive focus on child poverty and children’s subjective well-being. The research also included a methodological focus on the development of a mixed methods design incorporating children’s perspectives into the research. My recent research on the UK Poverty and Social Exclusion Study and the Children’s Worlds study centred on children’s own views of their well being and what is important to them in their everyday lives.


During 2015/16, I will be teaching on the BA and MA in Childhood Studies.

I teach on the BA module ‘Children’s Rights and Social Justice’, co-teaching the MA module ‘Children and young people: citizenship, participation and Social Justice’, and delivering sessions on the MA core modules ‘Theorising Childhood and Youth’ and ‘Research with Children and Young People’.

PhD Supervision

I welcome PhD students in the broad fields of childhood, youth, family, social policy and education. In particular, I would like to hear from doctoral students interested in the following areas.

  • Child and youth poverty, inequality, social exclusion, education and well-being.
  • The incorporation of children and young people’s perspectives into quantitative measures of different aspects of their lives.
  • The participation of children, young people and families in all aspects of research.
  • Quantitative methods in research with children and young people; for example methodological projects interested in how children can be involved in the development and use of measurement instruments, and substantive projects using existing or creating new quantitative data on children’s lives.
  • Mixed methods research designs.

Key Publications

Journal articles


  • Main G, Besemer K, ‘Children’s material living standards in rich countries’, in Handbook of Child Well-being, ed. by Ben-Arieh A and others, 1 (Netherlands: Springer, 2014), 1445-1481

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