The role of ability for gender differences in educational choices

Published on 12 August 2021 at 09:44

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.


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