From Abitur to doctoral degree and beyond

Academic careers of young adults in a longitudinal perspective, taking gender specific and social disparities and psycho-social factors into account

Project Description

Even today, the issues of gender and social background play an important role in the discussion on young scientists BMBF, 2008). In recent years, women have nearly equalled men with respect to beginning work on a doctoral thesis (cf. Federal Statistical Office, 2012). Still, the subsequent post-doctoral studies and appointment of professorships reveals a significant imbalance , putting women at a disadvantage (cf. Federal Statistical Office, 2012). In a way, the situation is mirrored with respect to social background, bearing in mind that existing data evidence are albeit more limited. Based on the few existing studies, social background effects can in part be found  on the transition to doctoral study respectively the readiness to do a doctorate. However,  hardly any effects were demonstrated for postdoctoral studies or the appointment of tenured professorships.

Project Objectives

So far, only a few studies exist regarding careers in science. In particular, there is a lack of longitudinal studies which should ideally already commence at the end of secondary education, to assess transitional thresholds of educational pathways in academic careers, respectively relevant influencing factors in each phase. The project takes this gap in research as a starting point. Based on data from the longitudinal study Bildungsverläufe und psychosoziale Entwicklung im Jugend- und jungen Erwachsenenalter (BIJU), educational pathways and respective decisions taken by individuals who later do a doctorate are assessed, as well as their subsequent careers.

The BIJU design allows for modelling the entire period from school to university study and doctoral degree, right up to the transition to employment.The following general research questions are focused:

  • What crucial individual and social factors can serve to describe the group of persons who do a doctorate or have acquired a doctorate, particularly in comparison with the group of higher education graduates who do not opt for a doctorate?
  • What are educational careers and the life course taken by people with doctorates like and how does the development progress subsequent to the doctorate?
  • Which achievement related, family and psycho-social factors determine decisions for or against a certain path at the different transition stages of an education system?

Each of these aspects will especially be focused from the perspective of gender-specific and social disparities.


The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports this project subject to a programme investigating conditions of careers taken by young scientists (FoWiN).


The study is a joint co-operation project by DIPF (Prof. Kai Maaz) and the Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development (MPIB Berlin, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Baumert).

Project Management

Project Team

Dr. Anna Bachsleitner

Project Details

Completed Projects
Department: Educational Governance
01/2014 – 12/2017
External funding
Contact: Prof. Dr. Michael Becker, Research Fellow