Current Research Projects

The unit’s research focuses on three different topics, whose common perspective is based on (quantitative) life course research: (higher) education, labour market returns and social inequality, e.g. inequality according to social origin, gender or ethnicity. In doing so, we contribute to research on the Institute of Sociology’s key topics of #Inequality, Class and Ownership External link and  #GenderRelations, Care and Social ReproductionExternal link.

Our central concern is to understand the importance of national institutions and individual decision-making processes for the structuring of unequal educational and employment histories. For example, we investigate why young women continue to choose different degree subjects and professions than young men and how this contributes to the reproduction of gender inequalities in the labour market; why boys and young people from immigrant families are disadvantaged in the education system today; why university students’ social background also influences their choice of degree subjects and what consequences this has for their university careers; or to what extent tuition fees actually reproduce origin-related inequalities in the higher education system.

Our research projects include theory-based empirical analyses of social phenomena. We primarily conduct our studies using quantitative empirical social research methods, applied to secondary data from representative population surveys as well as our own data collected using various methods (written, telephone and digital). Increasingly, we also use qualitative research methods as well as integrative multi-method designs to obtain a more comprehensive picture of social reality. With regard to statistical methodological research, our focus is on statistical modelling, e.g. multi-level models, interaction effects and missing data.

Research Projects on Gender Inequalities

  • Prof. Dr. Kathrin Leuze: Occupational Gender Segregation and its Significance for the (Re)production of Gender Inequalities in the German Labour Market (funded by the DFG)

    In Germany, the occupational principle plays a central role in linking the education and training system and the labour market and is therefore particularly relevant for the genesis of inequalities over the life course. The project therefore investigates the significance of the occupational principle for the (re)production of gender inequalities in the German labour market. In the first phase of the project, we initially described the development of occupational gender segregation in Germany between 1976 and 2010 and analysed how the share of women in occupations is causally related to other occupational characteristics, e.g. the occupational wage level or the share of part-time work. The results of these analyses are used to examine the influence of these occupational characteristics on non-monetary aspects of labour market inequalities between women and men. In the second phase of the project, we will investigate the significance of the gender differentiation of the occupational structure in Germany for the development of the gender wage gap since the mid-1970s. Theoretically, we investigate three different mechanisms for this: 1) the devaluation of job contents typical for women and 2) the declining demand for specific human capital in “women's jobs” due to technological change. The wage analyses are based on an innovative data set on individual wages over the life course: NEPS Starting Cohort 6, which is linked to register data from the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) and thus additionally contains very valid wage and company information for the respondents.

    Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)
    Project duration: April 2015 – November 2018 (second funding phase)
    Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. Corinna Kleinert, Dr. Ann-Christin Bächmann, Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories, Dörthe Gatermann, German Association for Public and Private Welfare, Dr. des. Anna Erika Hägglund, Family Federation of Finland


    Althaber, A., Leuze, K. (2020): Der Einfluss der beruflichen Geschlechtersegregation und beruflicher Arbeitszeitarrangements auf Teilzeitarbeit. Gleiche Übergangsbedingungen für Frauen und Männer? Sonderband “Berufe und soziale Ungleichheit” der Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, herausgegeben von Christian Ebner, Andreas Haupt und Britta Matthes, online first.

    Bächmann, A.-C., Gatermann, D. (2017): The duration of family-related employment interruptions – the role of occupational characteristics. Journal for Labour Market Research 50, 143–160.

    Hägglund, A.-E., Bächmann, A.-C. (2017): Fast Lane or Down the Drain? Does the Occupation Held Prior to Unemployment shape the Transition Back to Work? Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 49, 32-46.

    Hausmann, A.-C., Kleinert, C., Leuze, K. (2015): Entwertung von Frauenberufen oder Entwertung von Frauen im Beruf? Eine Längsschnittanalyse zum Zusammenhang von beruflicher Geschlechtersegregation und Lohnentwicklung in Westdeutschland. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 67, 217–242.

    Hausmann, A.-C., Zucco, A., Kleinert, C. (2015): Berufspanel für Westdeutschland 1976-2010 (OccPan). Dokumentation zur Erstellung und Anonymisierung. FDZ-Methodenreport, 09/2015, Nürnberg.

    Hausmann, A.-C., Kleinert, C. (2014): Berufliche Segregation auf dem Arbeitsmarkt: Männer- und Frauendomänen kaum verändert. IAB-Kurzbericht 09/2014, Nürnberg.

  • Prof. Dr. Kathrin Leuze: The Importance of Horizontal Segregation by Degree Subject for Educational and Labour Market Inequalities Between Highly Qualified Women and Men

    The research project focuses on gender inequalities among highly qualified women and men in both higher education and the labour market and asks what significance the gender-typical choice of field of study has in this respect. On the one hand, women today may be more highly qualified than men, they receive better grades and they complete a university degree more often than men. On the other hand, they are still disadvantaged in the labour market and have a higher risk of not being employed at all or working part time after their degree, or they may find themselves working in other professions and lower status positions. Since women still study different subjects than men, the project examines the significance of horizontal segregation of degree subjects for two phenomena: first, for gender inequalities in academic achievement, especially with regard to switching degree course, and, second, for the development of unequal labour market opportunities in the life course of university-educated women and men.

    Cooperation partners: Prof Dr. Susanne Strauß, Jasmin Meyer, University of Konstanz


    Leuze, K., Strauß, S. (2016): Why do occupations dominated by women pay less? How ‘female-typical’ work tasks and working time arrangements affect the gender wage gap among higher education graduates. Work, Employment and Society, 30, 802-820.

    Leuze, K., Strauß, S. (2014): Female-typical Subjects and their Effect on Wage Inequalities among Higher Education Graduates in Germany. European Societies, 16/2, 275-298.

    Leuze, K., Strauß, S. (2013): Die Bedeutung von typisch „weiblichen“ Studienfächern für Lohnungleichheiten zwischen Akademikerinnen und Akademikern. Career Service Papers 11/2013, 37-54.

    Leuze, K., Strauß, S. (2009): Lohnungleichheiten zwischen Akademikerinnen und Akademikern: der Einfluss von fachlicher Spezialisierung, frauendominierten Fächern und beruflicher Segregation. Zeitschrift für Soziologie 38/4, 262-281.

    Leuze, K., Rusconi, A. (2009): Should I Stay or Should I Go? Gender Differences in Professional Employment. WZB Discussion Paper Nr. SP I 2009-501, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, Berlin.

  • Prof. Dr. Kathrin Leuze: Individual and Institutional Factors Influencing Gender-(A)typical Career Aspirations in Adolescence

    It is well known from the literature that women and men work in different occupations and that this gender-specific “career choice” is associated with unequal labour market returns. Yet, little is known about why young women and men are interested in different occupations and why gender-specific career aspirations differ among industrialised countries. In a first step, the project therefore investigates the possible factors influencing the development of gender-(a)typical job aspirations and focuses on the importance of competences and grades, the parental home and the school environment. In a second step, these analyses will be extended to 30 EU and OECD countries. The study will examine the extent to which cultural and institutional differences between countries influence gender-stereotypical career expectations and whether this also explains differences in preferences for STEM occupations (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

    Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. Marcel Helbig, WZB Berlin Social Science Center and University of Erfurt, Dr. des. Anna Erika Hägglund, Bath University UK


    Hägglund, A. E., Leuze, K. (2020): Gender differences in STEM expectations across countries: How perceived labor market structures shape adolescents’ preferences. Journal of Youth Studies, online first. link.

    Leuze, K., Helbig, M. (2015): Why do girls' and boys’ gender-(a)typical occupational aspirations differ across countries? How cultural norms and institutional constraints shape young adolescents’ occupational preferences. WZB Discussion Paper Nr. P 2015-002, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung,

    Helbig, M., Leuze, K. (2012): „Ich will Feuerwehrmann werden!“ Zur Bedeutung von Kompetenzen, Noten und elterlichen Vorbildern für die Ausprägung geschlechts-
    (un-)typischer Berufsaspirationen. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 64, 91–122

  • Prof. Dr. Kathrin Leuze: Personality or Social Environment? What Factors Result in Young Women Failing to Make it Through the “Leaky Tech Pipeline”? (funded by the DFG)

    The project focuses on researching three crucial educational transitions in young women’s academic and professional careers: 1. the formation of aspirations to a mathematical/scientific and/or engineering/technical profession in secondary school and the transition to an appropriate degree programme, 2. the decision in the first semesters to change degree programme (or not) and successful graduation in the above-mentioned fields, and 3. the transition from success at university to a STEM profession. The systematic differentiation of subject groups serves to explain differences within the STEM area. In addition, the study looks solely at women to see where they end up in the “leaky tech pipeline” and to identify variations within the gender category. To this end, we are looking in particular at the interplay between personality and social factors. 

    Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)
    Project duration: April 2020 – March 2023
    Project staff: Ralf Minor                                                                                                                   Cooperation partners: Dr. Susanne Strauß, University of Konstanz


    • Stefani, Antje; Minor, Ralf; Leuze, Kathrin; Strauss, Susanne (2021): Is there really such a thing as a “leaky STEM pipeline”? Evidence from Germany, ECSR Annual Conference 2021
    • Stefani, Antje; Minor, Ralf; Leuze, Kathrin; Strauss, Susanne (2021): Is there really such a thing as a “leaky STEM pipeline”? Evidence from Germany, 28th Annual Workshop of the European Research Network on Transitions in Youth
  • Dr. Simon Bohn: Caring Masculinities – Determinants of Men’s Care Engagement and Transformation Practices of Men’s Relationships with Themselves and the World (Funded by the University of Jena’s Förderlinie Impulse Funding Line)

    Details zu diesem Projekt folgen in Kürze.

  • Dr. Charlotte Büchner: Developmental Tasks and Gender-Specific Educational Inequalities (Habilitation Project)

    This habilitation (post-doctoral qualification) project deals with boys’ and girls’ differential school performance and educational success. Previous studies have shown that gender-specific differences in school participation in education and in the acquisition of qualifications are evident above all at upper secondary level and that these clearly favour girls. Boys are overrepresented at lower-track schools and leave school without qualifications more frequently, while girls are overrepresented at upper-track schools and more frequently obtain university entrance qualifications than boys. The concept of psychosocial developmental tasks suggests that girls and boys manage key areas of life in adolescence differently and that this is related to their different educational achievement levels. This empirical investigation is interested in the question of what differences exist between boys and girls in coping with the developmental tasks of bonding, regeneration and participation and to what extent these contribute to gender-specific educational inequalities that disadvantage boys. In addition to gender, the study also includes boys’ and girls’ educational milieus in order to develop more differentiated insights within a discussion of the theoretical concept. The empirical study is based on a survey from 2014, conducted and financed by the Chair of General Educational Studies and Empirical Educational Research at the University of Erfurt. A total of 1,192 students in grades nine and ten at German comprehensive and grammar schools in the Central Thuringia region were surveyed.

    Project duration: April 2017 – September 2021                                                                             Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. Florian von Rosenberg, University of Erfurt

Research Projects on Origin-Related Inequalities

  • Prof. Dr. Kathrin Leuze: Evaluation of the Consequences of the Reform of Degree Programme Structures and University Expansion on the Labour Market Returns of University Graduates (Funded by the Leibniz Center for Science and Society)

    Higher education reforms, such as the introduction of tiered bachelor’s/master’s degree programmes as part of the Bologna process, but also the expansion of higher education due to rising student numbers, have influenced the quantity and quality of the labour supply entering the labour market. The aim of the project is to evaluate the effects of the introduction of the tiered degree structure on the labour market returns enjoyed by graduates with different degree types (traditional German degree types, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees). Specifically, the interdisciplinary research project asks two overarching research questions: 1. How and why have the labour market returns of university graduates with different degree types (traditional German degree types, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees) changed over the last decades? (sociology) 2. Can these changes be causally attributed to the introduction of the tiered degree structure (bachelor’s and master’s degrees) or to the general expansion of the higher education system? (economics). The project thus aims to investigate the effects of changes in the higher education system caused by educational expansion and the Bologna Process on modern contemporary societies, especially with regard to the labour market for highly qualified people.

    Funding: Bridging project of the Leibniz Center for Science and Society (LCSS), University of Hannover
    Project duration: April 2019 – March 2021
    Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. Stephan L. Thomsen, Dr. Martina Kroher, Johannes Trunzer, Leibniz University Hannover, Dr. Markus Lörz, German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW)


    Leuze, K., Lörz, M. (2019): Bildungsverläufe im Hochschulbereich. In: Köller, O.; Hasselhorn, M.; Hesse, F.; Maaz, K.; Schrader, J.; Solga, H.; Spieß, K.C.; Zimmer, K. (Hrsg.): Das Bildungswesen in Deutschland. Bestand und Potenziale. Bad Heilbrunn: UTB Verlag Julius Klinkhardt, 629-662.

    Lörz, M., Leuze, K. (2019): Der Masterabschluss als neues Distinktionsmerkmal? Zu Bedeutung der Studienstrukturreform für herkunftsspezifischer Einkommensunterschiede. In: Lörz, M.; Quast, H. (Hrsg.): Bildungs- und Berufsverläufe mit Bachelor und Master. Determinanten, Herausforderungen und Konsequenzen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 341-370.

  • Ralf Minor: Economic Issues in Higher Educational Pathways – Empirical Evidence on Whether and Where to Study and with Which Success (PhD Project)

    This PhD project, which forms part of the research on higher education, concerns economic influences on participating in, accomplishing and succeeding in tertiary education. It particularly focuses on investigating aspects of social justice and segregation in relation to students’ different starting points or the effects of political interventions. The three working papers developed in the context of this PhD project have different focuses. While the first paper examines the political intervention of levying and abolishing tuition fees on the basis of panel data, the second paper explores this instrument and the various forms it takes by means of a systematic review at the European level. The third paper examines the determinants of successful degree completion at German universities of applied sciences based on administrative individual data.

    Project duration: August 2019 – Juli 2022
    Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. Matthias-Wolfgang Stoetzer, University of Applied Sciences Jena


    • Minor, Ralf (2021): The Rise of Private Higher Education in Germany: Did Public Tuitions Push Private Institutional Development?, EffEE PhD Workshop on Causal Analyses of School Reforms
  • Björn Seipelt: Conditions and Consequences of Origin-Specific Choices of Degree Subject (PhD project, Funded by the Leibniz Center for Science and Society)

    The PhD project asks the question of why people from different social backgrounds choose different subjects and what consequences this has for their degree programmes and access to doctoral degrees. The project will first show which origin-specific inequalities exist in the choices of degree subject and how they can be explained. Second, the project asks what consequences origin-specific choices of degree subject have for further academic success among people from different social backgrounds. Third, the project will address the consequences of origin-specific choices of degree subject for origin-specific inequalities in access to doctoral studies. By examining the causes and consequences of the phenomenon at different points in time – before beginning university, during university, and after graduation – the study produces a comprehensive picture of the empirically confirmed but not yet adequately researched origin-specific disparities in choices of degree subject. The focus is always on the far-reaching implications of origin-specific choices of degree subject for the reproduction of social inequality.

    Project duration: October 2018 – March 2021

    Cooperation partners: Dr. Markus Lörz, German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW)

    The PhD project is being conducted as part of the bridging project Choice of Degree Subject: Determinants, Processes and Social Reproduction at the Leibniz Center for Science and Society (LCSS).External link

Research Projects on Migration-Related Inequalities

  • Katja Pomianowicz: Institutional Explanations for Migration-Related Educational Inequalities in Western Societies (PhD project)

    This doctoral thesis will examine the extent to which there are differences in the educational pathways followed by young people with an immigrant background compared to young people without an immigrant background and how these differences are influenced by the institutional conditions of the educational system. The overall goal of the doctoral thesis is thus to investigate the causes of migration-related educational inequalities that go beyond individual and family conditions; it also addresses and explores the specific national and school contexts as additional explanations. In three articles, the cumulative doctorate will explore how migration-related educational inequalities develop over the course of a lifetime. The dissertation’s papers will focus on doing comparative country research to examine the contextual factors at the institutional level and their influence. In particular, the dissertation will focus on the degree of institutional stratification of the education system, since previous research has assumed a significant inequality-promoting influence on educational inequalities. It will examine inequalities in school achievement, educational aspirations and tertiary educational pathways between young people with and without an immigrant background.

    Project duration: October 2015 – March 2020

An Overview of the Department for Methods of Empirical Social Research and Social Structure Analysis