Reprinted from the UK’s Daily Mail

They are traditionally viewed as uneducated young women who are coerced into the lap dancing industry.

But the first academic study on the subject has found that one in four lap dancers has a university degree and works in strip joints to boost their income.

Strippers take home an average of £232 per shift – or £48,000 a year – after paying commission and fees to the club where they work.

Many are aspiring actresses, models and artists who hope to use exotic dancing as a lucrative platform for breaking into their desired industry.

Unemployed new graduates – mainly with arts degrees – are also dancing because they cannot find graduate jobs.

They decided to work as strippers because it pays much better than bar work and the hours means they can still attend interviews, training days or further education courses during the day.

The research, conducted by Dr Teela Sanders and Kate Hardy from the University of Leeds, found the vast majority of women claimed to have high levels of job satisfaction.

It concluded that career and economic choices were the key reasons for dancing rather than drug use or coercion. There was no evidence of trafficking in the industry, researchers found.

However, the academics claimed dancers’ welfare was often disregarded because women could be in danger when alone with customers in private booths.

They called for better regulations to improve dancers’ safety, including the banning of private booths in clubs.

Dancers are also open to financial exploitation by clubs who could impose charges and fines, the study showed.

One dancer told researchers: ‘There’s not enough security. I know of girls who have been raped and abused at work.

‘You cannot go to the police as you are a stripper, so there’s no legal standing.’

The findings come after a change in the law saw lap dancing clubs reclassified as entertainment venues, giving local authorities more power to limit the number of clubs in their area.

Dr Sanders said she had been surprised at the ‘endless supply of women’ wanting to be lap dancers.

‘These women are incredibly body confident,’ she said. ‘I think there is something of a generational cultural difference.

‘These young women do not buy the line that they are being exploited, because they are the ones making the money out of a three-minute dance and a bit of a chat.

‘You have got to have a certain way about you to do it. They say 80per cent of the job is talking. These women do work hard for their money – you don’t just turn up and wiggle your bum.

‘But there is an issue about whether these women become trapped in the job because of the money. I think people often stay longer than they want.’

All the 300 women interviewed during the year-long study had finished school and gained some qualifications.

Almost 90per cent had completed a further education course, while a quarter had undergraduate degrees.

Just over one in three dancers were currently in some form of education, with 14 per cent using dancing to help fund an undergraduate degree.

The researchers found arts degree graduates were most likely to turn to dancing after being unable to find other work.

Others used dancing to provide a more steady and reliable income when working in more unstable arts jobs.

One dancer had been doing a law degree which included a work placement during her third year.

While working, she got used to earning a good wage, decided she would struggle when she returned to university without an income, and began dancing as soon as she went back to finish her degree.

Amber, a 32-year-old who gave up a career in financial journalism to work as a lap dancer, said: ‘It doesn’t surprise me that dancers are well educated – I’ve met dancers who have degrees in astrophysics from top universities.’

For dish on our local strippers, check out You Say Who this week.