Cross‐National Gender Gaps in Educational Expectations: The Influence of National‐Level Gender Ideology and Educational Systems

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In recent decades, a dramatic shift has occurred in higher education throughout much of the industrialized world. For the first time in history, women are completing more education than men. Through the 1970s, women lagged behind men in the number of tertiary degrees completed in most nations. Since the 1980s, women have begun to reach parity with men and, in many cases, surpassed men in terms of their educational attainment. Today, out of the 30 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), women comprise 53 percent of tertiary students, surpassing men in all but five countries: Germany, Japan, Korea, Switzerland, and Turkey (UNESCO 2005; see fig. 1). Most striking about these changes is that they are occurring across a large number of countries. This increasingly upward shift in women’s educational status will no doubt cause further transformations in these societies and have large implications for gender stratification worldwide.

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