The decision to invest in education is influenced by a large number ofeconomic, social, family, personal and institutional factors. Many of these changed inAustralia during the 1970s and 1980s. Several of the more important of these changes,such as the Equal Pay for Equal Work decision of 1969, the Equal Pay for Work of EqualValue decision of 1972 and the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984, are not expected to haveimpacted equally on the schooling decisions of males and females. The broader economicenvironment of this period also seems to have favoured females. Using the Youth inTransition Survey, this paper attempts to explain differences in the schooling decisions oftwo cohorts, namely individuals born in 1961 and 1970, which would have made theirschool-leaving decisions during the 1970s and 1980s. The aims are to establish whether theway in which education decisions are made differ across cohorts, and to assess whether anysuch differences can be related to the institutional reforms and labour market changes thatoccurred over the 1960–1980 period.The analyses show that females have a higher probability of completing year 12 thanmales and the gender difference in rates of year 12 completion widened over the decadeunder review. The increase in the probability of females completing year 12 relative to thatof males is due almost entirely to differential rates of change in the characteristics of malesand females. Changes in the estimated coefficients play a minor role in explaining thegender difference in school-leaving decisions. This suggests that major changes in the labourmarket with a focus on females per se during the 1970s and 1980s have had little impacton the difference in school-leaving decisions between males and females.