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and full information about these fields? What are the situations in which individuals find themselves and how do these situations impact the choices that they make related to fields of study and careers?

For example, return for a moment to the issue of “work-family balance.” Women and men face the same question: How do I balance the needs of my family with those of my employer and/or my career? But the decision about this balancing act is made within a particular social context and then within a particular household situation. The choice made by the household about, say, care of minor children is influenced by many factors including: the presence of affordable, high-quality daycare; employers’ willingness to permit workers to leave earlier in the afternoon to attend to children; the relative income provided by each member in the couple; and social norms related to gender and the care of children.


This paper provides a framework within which to understand segregation processes at three levels: macro, middle and micro. Measurement tools at the macro level in this chapter provide metrics with which to make comparisons of segregation in computer science, mathematics and statistics and the chemical sciences across work contexts (e.g., industry, government, and academia), across nations/economies, and across time. Theories at the intersection of social organizations and the social construction of gender reveal how institutional processes, at the middle level, play a role in occupational segregation. Finally, at the micro level, individuals’ interactions and choices, as well as the constraints and meanings of those choices, can be analyzed to understand the gendered outcomes associated with decisions about education and work.

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