Exploring gender inclusion and exclusion in female- and male-dominated fields of study

A systematic difference in choices of education among young girls and boys is a significant contributing factor to the gender segregated labour market. This project aims to explore gender traditional and gender untraditional choices of higher education.

Research into choices of higher education and its consequences for social inequality has been extensive, and a vast body of research has attempted to understand the complex processes behind young people’s educational choices. Much of the research focuses on the stabilizing factors , that is, investigate why and how social structures like social class and gender continue to influence individual choices, and thereby how social inequality persists in education and in the labour market. This project wishes to contribute to the understanding of how change can come about, by exploring the motivations and experiences of students entering male dominated and female dominated occupations.

The study aims to explore the motivation and reasoning behind young people’s choices, and how they describe, negotiate and play out their future professional roles. Also, I am interested in what kind of practical and theoretical knowledge and competence that are assessed value among the students, and how this relates to gender. Using interview and observation data, the study follows 30 students starting a bachelor’s degree in nursing and in nautical science. The interviews include both the gender minority and the gender majority.

The research questions sought answered are:
What are the students’ reasons and motivation for starting their education?
How do the students experience entering male dominated and female dominated educations?
What knowledge and competence do the students value as important in their profession, and how does this relate to gender?

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