Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Refusing to Fail: Over-Persistence, Under-Persistence, and the Gender Gap in Science

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 10:15 AM
Grenada (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Andrew Penner, University of California, Irvine
Research on gender differences in STEM fields typically focuses on women, attributing gender differences to factors driving women’s choices to avoid STEM. This paper extends this literature in two ways. First, we examine where women who leave STEM fields go, and whether their choices to opt out of STEM should be conceptualized as under-persistence. Second, we examine whether men persist excessively in the face of negative feedback in STEM. Using a novel experimental paradigm, we find evidence that men tended to choose mathematics even when it was at odds with achieving their stated goals. Corroborating evidence of male “over-persistence” is also found in college STEM coursetaking, where men are more likely to re-take STEM courses after failing them.