Women and men go to university: Mathematical background and gender differences in choice of field in higher education

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Abstract

Gender segregation in higher education is well documented. Female students major in mathematics, technology, and sciences less often than men, and they concentrate in humanities and social sciences. Using multinomial logit on the 6,139 applicants to Tel Aviv University in Israel in 1994, I examined the claim that one of the roots of gender segregation in higher education lies in course-taking patterns in high school. The main findings are as follows: Women are underrepresented among the applicants to the mathematics-related fields of study; mathematical background in high school is particularly effective in narrowing the gender gap in applying to selective and attractive, but not mathematically related, fields of study at the university; women rely on high qualifications more than men when applying to selective and male-dominated fields of study. Several explanations of the findings will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-290
Number of pages14
JournalSex Roles
Volume48
Issue number5-6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2003

Keywords

  • Field of study
  • Gender composition
  • Gender gap
  • High school history
  • Higher education
  • Israel
  • Selectivity

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