In this paper, we address gender differences in the host language proficiency of humanitarian migrants. Prior research has produced inconclusive results with regard to women’s host language proficiency relative to that of men: sometimes women’s proficiency exceeds that of men, sometimes women lag behind men, and sometimes there are no substantial differences. Using data on recent humanitarian migrants in Germany, we investigate factors contributing to similarities and differences in men’s and women’s language proficiency. We consider gender differences with respect to the family-related factors: marital status, children’s ages and children’s childcare situations are important for women but not for men. These findings point to the continued relevance of a gendered division of work. It also becomes clear that gendered role expectations are particularly consequential for mothers and wives. Moreover, we find evidence that women are more efficient learners than men are, while they have fewer learning opportunities than men.

DOI: 10.1093/jrs/feab038
ISSN: 0951-6328