Absolute ability/achievement does not explain gender differences in educational tracks, but the role of comparative advantage (i.e., being better in one subject compared to another) might. I studied the influence of having a comparative advantage for educational track choices using longitudinal data collected among 1,352 individuals (age 15-16) in upper secondary education in the Netherlands. I found large gender differences in track choices. Compared to girls, boys are on average 15% more likely to enter the most male-typical track (with a focus on science) and 16% less likely to enter the most female-typical track (with a focus on languages). I additionally found that having a comparative advantage in one field over another is important for which track adolescents choose, but it does not explain why boys and girls choose different track choices at such a young age.
Maaike van der Vleuten, PhD, started in October 2019 as a postdoctoral fellow at the Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) at Stockholm University as part of the GENPARENT project. She obtained her PhD at the department of Sociology at Utrecht University and continued as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Radboud University at the department of Sociology. Both in which she was part of the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology.