Gelijk of verschillend? : motieven, ervaringen en toekomstplannen van vrouwelijke en mannelijke leerlingen in het middelbaar agrarisch onderwijs

Q.H. Kools

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


The subject of this thesis is sex-inequity in education, or more specific the position of girls and boys in non-traditional forms of education.

This thesis is directed towards girls and boys in agricultural education who choose 'non-traditional' fields of study. In this research, education will be viewed from a chronological approach to investigate three main concepts, namely: motives involved in choosing a field of study, experiences during the schoolperiod and future plans. Research after motives of study-choice reveal differences between girls and boys, which lead to sex-segregation in fields of study. In this research, we will look at the motives of girls and boys who choose the same field of study, to see if these motives differ between the sexes. In studying the experiences of students in education, the 'token-theory' of Kanter (1977) and Ott (1985) will be used. People who form a minority in a group (e.g. based on biological sex, race or sexual disposition) are called 'tokens'.

According to the token-theory, tokens are disadvantaged in a majority-group because they are extra visible an they are seen as a representative of their sort instead of as an individual. According to Ott (1985), these disadvantages are stronger for female tokens than for male tokens. In this research we will investigate if girls in 'male' fields of study and boys in 'female' fields of study do experience these disadvantages of their token-position. The last issue in this research are the plans for the future of girls and boys. Literature reveals that girls think about their future in a different way than boys: they are more concerned about the combination of a professional career and family life than boys. Girls also have other professional ambitions than boys. It is the question if these differences also show in the case of students who have chosen the same agricultural field of study. In all the above mentioned angles of incidence, 'sex-identity' will be taken into account. Sex-identity is controversial to biological sex and it reveals to cultural influences on a person's identity, in which both female and male aspects are present. It is possible that this notion offers a more plausible explanation for differences between boys and girls of for differences between boys and girls mutually.

The main research question is: 'are there differences between female and male students in secondary agricultural education with regards to their motives of study choice, experiences in school and future plans, and if so, is there an explanation for these differences in (background)characteristics of students or of schools?'

The above mentioned question was investigated in two phases: firstly via an interviewstudy and secondly in a testing study via a written questionnaire. The first study was designed to obtain more insight in the research question and to sharpen the hypotheses for the testing study. The research was carried out in 'male' fields of study with more than 85% of boys (animal husbandry, plantbreeding and horticulture) and a 'female' field of study with more than 85% of girls (floristry).

Results of the interviewstudy reveal differences in motives, experiences and future plans between female and male students who choose the same field of study. The information of the interviews served not only as hypotheses for the testing study, but also as a starting point for the construction of the written questionnaire for the testing study.

A total of 1197 female and male students have participated in the testing study. The results show differences in motives between girls and boys for 3 out of 4 fields of study. Girls more often choose from interest in this field of study whereas boys more often choose from professional considerations. On behalf of sex-identity, no differences were found. Backgroundfactors which explain the differences are agricultural background, biological sex, opinion of others about study-choice and future plans.

The experiences of girls in 'male' fields of study (animal husbandry and plant breeding) are worse than the experiences of boys in these fields of study. In their opinion of certain situations (coarse jokes, being laughed at, feeling excluded), girls more often express their dislike of the situation than boys. In contrast to these bad experiences in classroom, girls in male fields of study (animal husbandry, plant breeding, horticulture) do state they enjoy school better compared to boys in these fields of study. So at classroom-level the experiences of girls in male fields of study are worse than those of boys, whereas at school-level their experiences are better than those of boys. This also holds true for boys in female fields of study: they also have more pleasure in going to school than girls in this field of study.

These findings indicate that students in non-traditional fields of study (girls in animal husbandry, plant breeding and horticulture or boys in floristry) have more pleasure in their field of study, while they have rather negative experiences in classroom. Sex-identity offers a slightly extra insight: it appears that feminine types in non-traditional fields of study (animal husbandry, plant breeding, horticulture) and masculine types in non-traditional fields of study (floristry) more often dislike certain situations than other types of sex-identity and more often choose to exclude themselves form these situations. The token-theory in which is stated that 'tokens' experience more negative effects from their position can not be confirmed: at some points tokens do have better experiences (pleasure in school) and at some points (feeling excluded) they have worse experiences than not-tokens. Differences between female and male tokens were not found, so the supplementary token theory in which is stated that female tokens have worse experiences than male tokens, cannot be confirmed either. Backgroundfactors which appear to have an effect on differences in experiences are age, form at school and the opinion of mother on study-choice.

There are also differences between girls and boys concerning future plans. Girls on the whole intend a lesser amount of working days than boys and more often choose to continue studying after having completed this training. Boys more often intend to choose a profession as independent entrepreneur, whereas girls prefer a job in paid labour or 'something else'. On behalf of sex-identity, slight differences in some fields of study were found: it appears that masculine and androgyne girls make choices which resemble choices of boys, whereas feminine boys make choices which resemble those of girls. Backgroundfactors which explain differences in future plans are agricultural background, biological sex, agricultural pre-education, the desired amount of days of work in future and the existence of an emancipation policy at school.

The results of this study indicate to agricultural schools that the population of students is more diverse than might be expected regarding study-choice. There appear to be differences between girls and boys who choose the same field of study, and more attention for diversity seems desirable. Girls in 'male' fields of study have worse experiences in the classroom than boys, which is a clear signal to schools. To schools this means they might offer more attention to 'culture' and 'sphere' in classroom, especially with regards to manners.

Original languageDutch
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • van den Bor, W., Promotor
  • Dekkers, H.P.J.M., Co-promotor, External person
Award date2 Feb 1999
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789058080080
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • education
  • agricultural education
  • students
  • girls
  • boys
  • discrimination
  • netherlands
  • female equality
  • emancipation of women

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