Occupational sex segregation persists in all European and OECD countries; yet in some countries, it is more pronounced than in others. In this paper we seek to explain these cross-national variations by analyzing the realistic occupational aspirations of 15-year-old pupils in 29 EU and OECD countries. Based on socialization and rational choice approaches we develop hypotheses for how cultural norms and national institutions might influence the gender-typing of occupations. These are tested by applying 2-step multi-level models to the OECD's 2006 PISA study merged with country-level data from various sources. Results indicate that girls develop gender-(a)typical occupational aspirations in response to structural education and labor market differences across countries, while boys' gender-(a)typical aspirations are mainly influenced by country variations in normative prescriptions of gender-essentialist cultures and self-expressive value systems. The findings point at the necessity for differentiating both between micro- and macrolevel explanations and between explanations for women and men.
occupational aspirations socialization rational choice cross-national comparison EU OECD