Translating Research

When Marco Urbani declared his psychology major he did not realize that he would be in a female dominated field. In this day in age it’s hard to believe that major fields are divided by gender, but it is still the case today.

In 2011 19% of women graduated with an engineering degree while 85% graduated with a nursing degree. According to a study conducted by Ann L. Mullen, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, gender has an impact on the choice of a college major in a liberal arts context.

In the study, Mullen went to an unnamed liberal arts university and interviewed 50 juniors and seniors. In these interviews students were asked why they chose their field of study, what fields they originally planned on studying, and the factors linked to their final choice of study. The research was published in Gender & Society this past December.

The results showed that in the social sciences and humanities women tended to sociology, anthropology, psychology, area studies, and English. Men stayed with political science, economics, philosophy and history. In the sciences women tended to pick biology, while men majored in more physical sciences, computer science, and engineering.

Mullen concluded that these gendered choices were influenced by the expectations of future family roles and how choosing a field will construct their intellectual identity.

Mullen states in her article “Women would be more likely to switch over to a male dominated field compared to men.” Mullen explains that if we want these gender distinct majors to disappear it would take about 1/3 of men or women to change majors in order for the distribution of men and women to be equivalent across all fields.

Urbani, does not feel odd being in a female dominated field. “It’s the major I chose, its what I want to study and its what I love”

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