Social class background and gender-(a)typical choices of fields of study in higher education

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British Journal of Sociology;Volume70, Issue4



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By employing a Bourdieu‐inspired class scheme that differentiates between classes’ volume and composition of capital, and by analysing Norwegian administrative register data for birth cohorts between 1987 and 1992, this paper examines the relationship between social class background and gender‐(a)typical choices of higher education. Fields of study in higher education in much of the Western world remain segregated by gender despite the gender gap in educational attainment having been reversed. However, some changes have taken place due to the influx of women into male‐dominated, high‐status fields. Few recent studies have examined the relationship between social class background and gendered educational choices in light of these changes; furthermore, the focus of previous research has been limited to the vertical dimension of class. The results presented in this article suggest that men and women are more likely to make gender‐atypical choices when this leads to social mobility and that focusing solely on the vertical dimension of class may mask horizontal differences.




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