A college on every cape: Gender equality, gender segregation and higher educational expansion
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The great expansion of highereducational systemsin Western countries in the latter half of the 20thcentury had a profound impact on educational opportunities andis central to understanding the reversal of the gender gap in higher education.In Norway, major educational reforms starting in the late 1960s aimed at making higher educationmore accessible for large segments of the population, particularly young womenwho were graduating from high school at an increasing rate. This occurredthrough the upgrading, establishment,and gradual expansion of local and regional colleges acrossthe country, especiallyin female-dominated fields associated with work in expanding public welfare sectors. Theories and previous research havesuggested thatthe gendered profile of educational expansions contributed to the cementing of horizontalgender segregation patterns in education and the labor market.Weshed light on these processes using newand detailed data on the establishmentand upgradingof higher educational institutions between 1969 and 1993. Linking these data to individual-level register dataallows us to study how regional variation in educational opportunities affected the educational attainmentandfield of study choices of young women and men, using a difference-in-differences (DiD)/event studyapproach. While increased access to college education was a prerequisite for the reversal of the gender gap, our findingssuggest thatthe location of colleges mattered very little. Colleges had, at most, a very modest impact on local educational attainment and gendered field of study choices.We discuss the implications of these findings for policy and sociological theory.