At the Intersection of Gender and Family Type: Does Family Structure Matter for Gendered Educational Aspirations?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:43
Oral Presentation
Belinda AESCHLIMANN, Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training SFIVET, Switzerland
Andreas HADJAR, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Whether or not family structure is a source of inequalities and a mechanism behind (dis)advantages in life chances is a subject of ongoing debate. On the one hand, previous research on family structures showed that single-parent households are more at risk in regard to economic resources (income). On the other hand, further studies indicated some advantages, for example a higher degree of agency – in terms of the capacity to act independently and make decisions – among children raised in single-parent families. With respect to vocational aspirations and choices, it is still rather under-researched how two-parent families differ from single-parent families. This paper focuses on the intersection between gender and family structure regarding aspirations to participate in STEMM courses.

We conduct empirical analyses based on survey data of upper secondary school students (N = 2445) in their pre-final and final year at school in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. The data was gathered within a project of the Swiss National Foundation Research Programme on “Gender Equality” (NRP 60). Our empirical analysis of vocational aspirations towards STEMM professions involves two steps. First, the different types of families are compared with respect to the percentage of male and female offspring with a gender-typical vocational aspiration. Second, more complex mechanisms are investigated in light of multivariate analyses (controlling for socio-economic status). Results of the descriptive analyses show that gendered vocational aspirations do not vary by family structure, while multivariate analyses indicate a weak effect for girls: if they are raised by their mother only, they are more likely to aspire a gender-typical profession and less likely to aspire a STEMM profession.