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Gender Segregation in Australian Science Education: Contrasting Post-Secondary VET with University

Gender Segregation in Vocational Education

ISBN: 978-1-78560-347-1, eISBN: 978-1-78560-346-4

ISSN: 0195-6310

Publication date: 18 November 2015

Abstract

Young men and women dominate different niches of science education in Australia, but how this divide varies between university and post-secondary vocational education and training (VET) is not well understood. Therefore, I compare courses in both sectors to assess if the male–female gap at later stages of education mirrors adolescent career plans and subject choices made in secondary school. Multinomial logistic regressions estimated on data from the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth (Y06) illustrate the extent to which the gender divides in secondary and post-secondary education correspond with one another. Y06 started with the 2006 Australian Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Each year until 2013, a nationally representative sample of youth, who were nearly 16 years old in 2006, reported their schooling and work experiences. I find that Australian women rarely specialise in physics, engineering and technology (PET); in contrast, they dominate the life sciences. While post-secondary science is segregated by gender everywhere, the disparity within VET is much deeper due to a large share of PET enrolments. VET students, who come from modest socio-economic backgrounds and have less academic success at school, learn in more segregated environments than their university peers. This analysis suggests that gender divides will be particularly hard to close within post-secondary VET, even if schools succeed in eradicating gender differentials in students’ career aspirations, science performance, self-concept and choices of science subjects.

Citation

Sikora, J. (2015), "Gender Segregation in Australian Science Education: Contrasting Post-Secondary VET with University", Gender Segregation in Vocational Education (Comparative Social Research, Vol. 31), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 263-289. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0195-631020150000031009

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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