Briefing Paper

Daring to be Different: The Choice of Nonconventional Fields of Study by International Women

Download the Research Report (8.6 MB, PDF)

Why do individuals select a given field of study? Why do most students choose to study fields that are very traditional for their gender while only few other adopt fields—and thus future occupations—that are considered highly nonconventional for their gender by most social standards?

Despite the awareness and knowledge about gender disparities brought about by the feminist movement in the 70s and the subsequent creation of women's studies programs on numerous U.S. campuses, there is a strong tendency to maintain the current social definitions of what are appropriate disciplines and jobs for men and women

It is important for the study to identify the relationship between the women's view of gender in society and their levels of feminism, on the one hand, and the selection of a nonconventional field of study, on the other, because a key assumption is frequently made that the increased presence of women in nonconventional fields of study will lead to societal changes. Presumably, these changes will happen not simply because the new professionals in key areas of social and economic life will be women but because women will bring to these arenas more advanced understanding of gender and social inequalities, and therewith better solutions to these problems.

Share