Green for All? Gender Segregation and Green Fields of Study in American Higher Education
Cornell University, Harvard University
Using the example of green fields of study in higher education, which emerged largely in response to the growing prominence of the environmental movement over recent decades, this article posits that new and emerging fields of study can be an important source of change in gender segregation across fields of study. We suggest that new and emerging fields of study, when framed outside of existing gender divisions, may transcend established gender divisions and be characterized by greater gender integration in both STEM and non-STEM disciplines. Patterns of gender segregation among over 9 million bachelor’s degree recipients between 2009 and 2013 confirm that green programs are systematically characterized by greater gender equality relative to non-green fields, regardless of their STEM classification. Further, the more gender imbalanced the “parent” field, the greater the difference we find in the gender composition of green and non-green programs. These results imply that green programs are promoting greater gender equality across the higher education system, underscoring the effect of the organizational structure of higher education, such as the structure of fields of study available to students, on gender segregation in the academy.