Social selectivity and gender-segregation across fields of study: Comparative evidence from Austria

Franziska Lessky, Erna Nairz, Marcus Wurzer

Publikation: Wissenschaftliche FachzeitschriftOriginalbeitrag in FachzeitschriftBegutachtung


This study explores stratification within the Austrian university system by focusing on social selectivity and gender-segregation across fields of study. We investigate how much the choice of field of study is associated with parental educational background and the gender of the students—especially, how these characteristics
vary across individual (teaching) subjects. Teacher training is often regarded as typically chosen by women and preferred by so-called educational climbers. However, previous studies focus on clusters of fields of study and do not take into account the differences between individual (teaching) subjects. We address this
research gap by focusing on a comparison between those who have chosen to undergo a teaching program in a specific subject and those who have studied this specific subject without pedagogical training. By using administrative data from first-year students at Austrian state universities (N = 23,400) in 2016–2017, and
applying logistic regression analysis, the results demonstrate that in almost all analyzed fields of study, similar patterns of gender-segregation according to the choice of fields of study can be observed, regardless of whether it concerns a teacher training subject or a corresponding equivalent academic subject. Educational climbers tend to opt more frequently for teacher training subjects than for their corresponding fields—especially in some of the mathematics-oriented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. We contribute to comparative sociological literature by introducing the approach of comparing teacher training subjects to their academic equivalents and revealing a more nuanced picture regarding horizontal inequalities in higher education.
Seiten (von - bis)1 - 21
FachzeitschriftInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2022