Panel Paper: The STEM Leaky Pipeline for Women: Who Leaves When, and Where Do They Go?

Saturday, November 9, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 10 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jamin Speer, University of Memphis

Men are more likely than women to be found in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, making up about two-thirds of those in STEM jobs and STEM college majors. This paper provides a detailed analysis of when women drop out of the STEM pipeline, who these women are, and where they go at each stage. There are leaks all along the pipeline. Men are more likely to be ``STEM-ready" in high school based on their test scores and courses taken, more likely to choose a STEM major, and more likely to stick with that STEM major. The major choice gap seems more related to interest and access than ability. STEM-ready women often major in business, psychology, education, and health fields like nursing instead of STEM. Among STEM graduates, women are also significantly less likely to enter STEM jobs, and more likely to become teachers. I decompose the gender gap in STEM outcomes into the various stages of the pipeline. In my preferred specification, early-career occupation choices among STEM graduates account for 36% of the overall gender gap, but STEM readiness in high school accounts for the largest portion (41%). Over half of women lost from the pipeline are lost by the initial college major choice.

Full Paper: