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Figure E-4-3 shows horizontal segregation of women among doctoral degree recipients in Brazil in 1996 and 2008. If metaphors like the “leaky pipeline” are invoked, then why are there such broad variations across fields in women’s participation? That is, why is women’s representation in some STEM fields so low, while women have a higher level of representation in other fields? Why are these gender differences more pronounced in the United States and other affluent countries than in transitional and developing countries? As shown in Figure E-4-3, one third of doctoral degrees in engineering were awarded to women in Brazil in 2008, while in that same year in the United States, just 20 percent of doctoral degrees in engineering were earned by women.


FIGURE E-4-3. Women’s Representation among Ph.D. Recipients in Brazil by Field, 1996 and 2008

SOURCE: Doutores Estudos da demografia da base técnico-científica brasileira - Brasília, DF: Centro de Gestão e Estudos Estratégicos, 2010.

Micro Level

At the micro level, we shift our focus closer to the individual level in relation to the institutional level processes just considered at the middle level. At this level we are particularly interested in the calculus of choice. Here we reach what can often be a slippery slope: while we can conceptualize individuals as active agents of their own lives, the extent to which individuals are effectively channeled into some areas or blocked out of others can represent significant constraints on these choices. To what extent do the choices about careers and curriculum of individuals continue to be made along gender lines? To what extent do actors possess accurate

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