Desegregation stalled: The changing gender composition of college majors, 1971-2002

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Gender segregation in baccalaureate degree fields declined rapidly in the first half of the period from 1971 to 2002; at the same time, women's representation among baccalaureate degree recipients increased most rapidly relative to men's. The desegregation of the early period resulted mainly from women's increased entry into business-related fields and declining proportions of women majoring in traditional fields such as education and English. Men did not contribute to integration by moving toward fields numerically dominated by women. Fixed-effects regression models suggest that feminization of fields discourages later cohorts of men from entering them, as predicted by the devaluation perspective. The stalling of desegregation came from a combination of men's disinclination to enter fields that are "too" filled with women, and the slowdown in women making less traditional choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-677
Number of pages21
JournalGender and Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Education
  • Gender segregation
  • Higher education
  • Segregation
  • Sex segregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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