Sex Segregation as Freedom of Expression? Occupational Aspirations in Cultures of Affluence
Sex segregation by occupation and field of study is often presumed to reflect fundamental differences in men’s and women’s intrinsic natures and aspirations. But historical and cross-national comparisons reveal a great deal more variability than such a simple narrative would suggest. Moreover, this variability often takes on surprising patterns. Focusing especially on scientific, technical, engineering and mathematical (STEM) fields, I will consider some possible explanations for counterintuitive patterns of cross-national and historical variability in sex segregation, and I will present early results from a project that explores eighth-graders’ attitudes toward mathematically-related work in approximately 50 countries between 1995 and 2011.