International conference on career orientations, education systems, and gendered school­-to-work transitions


November 23/24, 2012, University of Basel, Switzerland


Joint conference by the Swiss Association of Gender Research and the Sociology of Education Research Network of the Swiss Sociological Association

Organised by the zentrum gender studies and the Institute of Sociology at the University of Basel



With Profs. Drs. Mechtild Oechsle, Emer Smyth, Barbara Stauber and Angelika Wetterer : keynotes and discussions


There is substantial research on the relevance of education systems for individual school-to-work transitions. International comparative transition research attests to the importance of vocational education and training and its certificates for the quality of the first job upon career entry. However, the institutional perspectives applied in this research so far have largely been gender blind (Smyth 2005). The effects of stratification, academic selectivity, or occupational specificity of an education system on gender-(a)typical transitions from education to employment have hardly been an issue.


Studies on career choice so far have been the only ones to seriously adopt a gender perspective. It is known that career orientations clearly follow gender-typical patterns already at child and adolescent age. Gender-sensitive research of career choice examines how gender-(a)typical behavior in this respect can be explained in order to prevent individual paths of education and employment from being strongly determined along gender lines in the future. Research in the area of career choice, in turn, has paid little attention to the institutional make up of the education system. Institutional education offers, as a framework guiding choices in the transition to employment, have been considered, if at all, as a context factor but not as variable in its own right in explaining gender-typical paths from school to vocational training and employment.


To what extent, however, gender-typical career choices predetermine the transition to a gender-segregated labor market later on depends on the point in time of institutionally required career choice and the occupational specificity of the education system. The, by international comparison, very high degree of gender segregation in the Swiss labor market results from institutional arrangements requiring youths to make career choices at an early point in life – choices that during adolescence typically fall in line with gender stereotypes. At the same time, this high segregation is a product of an institutional linkage between education system and labor market such that early career aspirations determine labor market options in the long run.


The conference aims to systematically bring together gender-sensitive research on career choice and institutional transition research in addressing gender-(a)typical trajectories and transitions from school to vocational training and employment.


The contributions will focus on the opportunity structures of the education system and/or gendered processes of career choice and transition from a perspective informed by gender theory.


Local organizers: Karin Wohlgemuth, Nina Wehner, Karin Schwiter, Aline Schoch, Sasha Cortesi, Andrea Maihofer, Christian Imdorf