‘Now I want to do something interesting, something fun’. A mixed-methods study into the determinants of horizontal gender segregation at a Belgian university.


  • Mieke Van Houtte Ghent University, Department of Sociology
  • Pieter Vanderwegen Ghent University, Department of Sociology
  • Hans Vermeersch Ghent University, Department of Sociology


educational choice, masculine fields, feminine fields, mixed methods, horizontal gender segregation


This study examines by means of quantitative and qualitative data analyses which factors

determine the choice for more masculine or more feminine fields of study by male and female

bachelor students. The quantitative analyses are based on data of 4758 bachelor students, of

which 1808 males and 2950 females, taken from STUBARO 2011-2012, a yearly online survey of

students of Ghent University. The qualitative data are data of 15 female and 8 male students in

gender-atypical fields, gathered by means of in-depth interviews and focus groups. Family

background only slightly explained the gendered choices. More important were the students’

occupational values, as more feminine values decreased the likelihood of being in more

masculine fields of study, and vice versa. Previous educational careers appeared to be most

important, namely mathematics, which determined the enrolment in masculine fields somewhat

more for men than for women.






Research Articles