Career and gender: why do women choose male professions?


Project description (completed research project)

Statistics show that men and women do not choose the same professions. Professions in the field of mathematics, computer science, the natural sciences, and technology are favoured by men and avoided by women. This causes not only supply shortfalls when recruiting employees in natural science/technology occupations but also reinforces the prejudice that certain (personality) characteristics were “typically female” or “typically male”. Prejudices of that kind are an important cause of the unequal career and life opportunities for women.


This project explores what causes young women to choose gender-atypical professions (for example, physicist, mechanic). To this end, the researchers investigate the influence of family and school on young women’s ideas about their future careers. Do women choose occupations in the area of the natural sciences and technology because of personal role models (parents, teachers) or because school subjects in the natural sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry) attracted them? To answer these questions, young people in Matura schools and vocational schools in German-speaking Switzerland are surveyed by means of questionnaires and interviews.

Original title

Geschlechtsuntypische Berufs- und Studienwahlen bei jungen Frauen

Project leader(s)

  • Prof. Walter Herzog, Institut für Erziehungswissenschaft (IfE), Universität Bern
  • Dr. Elena Makarova, IfE, Universität Bern
  • Belinda Aeschlimann, IfE, Universität Bern
  • Julia Ignaczewska, IfE, Universität Bern



Further information on this content