Mwose, Rebecca Nyambura
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This study sought to establish the determinants of choice of the master’s programme in gender and development studies in Nairobi County. Specifically, it focused on the factors influencing the subject choice of gender and development studies and gender related courses in selected universities in Nairobi County. The study was prompted by the lack of consideration of gender social relations when students are making subject choices. This occurs when there is underrepresentation of either male or female students in a particular career choice. Consequently, there is lack of accommodation of both perspectives in classes and career sectors which negates the achievement of goals envisioned in Article 27 of the Kenyan Constitution which states that women and men have the right to equal treatment including the right to equal opportunities in political, cultural and social spheres. The purpose of the study was to determine the factors that explain the choice of gender and development studies across selected universities in Nairobi County. The study objectives were: to identify the socio-cultural factors that influence students’ choice, to investigate the effect of perceptions on choice, to identify the constraints that students face as they make their choice and to suggest ways in which enrolment interventions can be made more gender aware. The rational choice theory was used to show how both male and female students make their career choices and how choice making is an individual process which emerges as rational, when the chosen alternative is primarily based on the student’s individual preferences. The study employed a case study design. Besides, purposive sampling technique was used in selecting the respondents for the study. Interview guides and open ended questionnaires were the main data collection instruments for the research whereby both qualitative and quantitative data was generated. Qualitative data was analysed by use of themes and the coding technique while frequencies and percentages were used in the analysis of quantitative data. The study established that subject choice is influenced by a myriad of factors including, influence from peers, parents and societal opinions. Also reference groups in the society and environmental stimuli significantly contribute to subject choice. Lack of gender awareness featured primarily when the students did not feel suited to the choice they had made due to factors such as family advice and their educational background constraints. Individual factors such as gender roles and responsibilities as well as personal interests did not feature as factors that greatly influence gender unresponsiveness. Finally, career counselling and mentorship programmes for the students, seminars, outreach and sensitization programmes play a great role in subject choice and resolving the lack of gender awareness before it occurs in career choice. The study recommends that universities should initiate career education sessions that address the lack of gender awareness through student sensitization so that they make subject choices where they can actualize their potential.