Panel A.06 — Inequalities in education and labour market outcomes

Convenors Valentina Ferri (INAPP, Italy); Sergio Scicchitano (John Cabot University)

Keywords Education, labour market, quantitative methods, inequalities


In recent years, women’s participation in higher education has increased but not in every field of study. In the STEM paths female presence remains very low and gender segregation in STEM education contributes to explaining the persistence of gender inequalities in the labor market, and the relatively poor occupational chances compared to male ones (Barone, 2020).

According to the literature, gender segregation in higher education and in higher hierarchical positions is recognized as a significant factor explaining the persistence of gender inequalities in the labor market (Biagetti and Scicchitano, 2011, 2014). It is well known that idiosyncratic, sociological, and cultural reasons may play key roles in discrimination against women, especially those with high-skilled jobs (Scicchitano, 2012, 2014).

The increase in the pay-gap between men and women depends mainly on the negative influence that certain customs and social beliefs can have on the life and career choices of young female students. There are still people who believe that there are professions “for men” and others that are more suitable for women, thus leading men inevitably to fill a larger percentage of roles that are represented as better by social conventions and therefore more remunerative (Ferri, Garcìa Pereiro, Pace).

The point is that many inequalities originate from the early years of education and the variables that could affect these inequalities are referred to the socio-economic status and the family background. Many studies on Pisa data delve deeper into this topic (Di Castro, Ferri 2022).

Results from a recent study (Bonacini, Gallo and Scicchitano (2021) on the relationship between household background (i.e. parental education and occupational skill level) and variables representing the educational and social opportunities of individuals (i.e. having a Higher Education Level-HEL and having an Higher Skill Level-HSL) show that parental background clearly matters in Italy

Other possible inequalities in education also include those between foreigners and natives. Even these paths in which different performances occur between the two groups can subsequently affect working careers. The literature suggests that the differences on PISA assessment from immigrant and non-immigrant student are all significant but larger in reading and science than in mathematics. On these matters, the study confirms the relevant weight of the language spoken at home by the student and the socio-economic background (Ferri et al, 2023).

Considering all these reflections, the session welcomes contributions, to a greater extent with the use of quantitative methods, which deal with addressing inequalities in education and possibly the effects on the labor market.


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