Irene Prix

Social class differences in gender-atypical pathways from school to work in Finland

Gender segregation patterns in education and the labour market have remained largely stable in recent decades: men are still most likely to study and work in fields dominated by other men, whereas women tend to be found in female-dominated educational and occupational fields. Neither Finland nor other European countries are an exception to this worldwide trend. Yet, little scholarly attention has been paid to the fact that these patterns vary between social classes and educational groups: higher educational levels are comparatively more gender-integrated than lower levels, while white collar domains on the labour market are less gender segregated than blue-collar occupations. How do these social class differences in gender segregation come about? Are men and women from the working class under greater pressure to adhere to gender-normative expectations? Is a gender-atypical field of study or occupation a personal risk that is more costly to take for the working class?
To get a clearer understanding of these issues, I focus on the role of social class in moderating entry into and persistence in gender-atypical educational and occupational pathways. Three objectives lie at the heart of this postdoctoral project. Over the course of three years, I will
1) clarify the role of social resources and role models with regard to entering and remaining in
gender-atypical fields of study at higher and lower educational levels,
2) examine differences in gender-atypical labour market transitions between educational
3) investigate the role of social class for exit patterns from gender-atypical occupations,
The statistical analyses used in this project are specifically tailored to meet these objectives and include non-linear and linear probability models, event history analyses and sequence analysis.
Targeted comparisons with Sweden and Germany will put the Finnish perspective in this  research into international context. Exceptionally extensive data sets of excellent quality are available to this study, such as Finnish and Swedish register-based data as well as the reputable German socioeconomic panel (SOEP). This project contributes to the sociological understanding of intersections between social class and gender and will benefit targeted policy interventions for reducing gender segregation in education and work.


I graduated with a master's degree in sociology from the University of Graz, Austria, in 2004 and subsequently gained a second master's degree from the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University, UK. Prior to defending my Ph.D. thesis (Limits of Meritocracy. How Fields of Study and Gender Segregation Affect Social Stratification in Finland) in 2014 at the University of Turku, I worked as a junior researcher at the Research Unit for the Sociology of Education (RUSE). From 2014-2016, I was a senior researcher on the INDIRECT project (Intergenerational Cumulative Disadvantage and Resource Compensation, PI: Jani Erola) at the Department for Social Research of the University of Turku.

Research interests

The central theme combining my research interests is social inequality, which includes issues of social stratification and class, gender, education and labour markets. While my research is mainly based on quantitatively-empirical methods, my interest in these topics includes also their theoretical/conceptual dimensions.

20014 Turun yliopisto, Finland
Tel. +358 29 450 5000

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