Panel: Gender Education Inequities in STEM Education: Exploring Different Mechanisms

Thursday, November 7, 2019: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 12 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Fernanda Ramirez-Espinoza, Harvard University
Panel Chair:  Alexander L.P. Willén, Norwegian School of Economics
Discussants:  Haeil Jung, Korea University and Oded Gurantz, University of Missouri

Although educational attainment gaps have not only narrowed but they have reversed in most high-income countries and Latin America (Goldin, 2002; Goldin, Katz, & Kuziemko, 2006; Duryea, Galiani, Nopo, & Piras, 2007), a high degree of occupational segregation remains: men and women are still concentrated in different occupations. This is an important point in that gender wage differences are partly attributable to the subjects that men and women choose to study. In consequence, studying the mechanisms through which women persist (or desist) in high-paying paths like STEM fields is relevant as it helps us understand how to close this persistent gender inequity.


This session will explore mechanisms which might explain the gender gap we observe in women’s participation in STEM, in different contexts. There will be examples from Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and the US, both in secondary education and higher education. Some of the mechanisms that will be discussed are peer effects, role model effects, sibling effects and gendered choices.


The first paper is set in the context of Advanced Placement (AP) exams in the US, a diverse set of college-level academic subjects taken by millions of high students across the country. It examines the extent to which older siblings serve as role models, and whether their AP performance had a causal impact on the AP exam decisions of their younger siblings.


The second paper analyses the relationship between the proportion of female teachers in STEM fields in high school and the enrollment in stem majors in Bogotá, Colombia during 2008-2014 by high school graduates in those schools. The authors characterize the gap in probability that male and female high school graduates will enroll in a STEM and explore whether having female teachers in STEM areas in high school is correlated with a lower gap.


The third paper uses rich data from Mexico City on student preferences for high schools to study the determinants of the STEM gender gap and to assess the potential for various policies to reduce the gap. The authors find that males are more likely to be assigned to a STEM school than females and that part of the differences are due to gendered choices. 


The fourth paper explores the existence of gender peer effects in a post-secondary vocational education in Chile. Using information from 76,124 students, the author estimates a gender peer effect linear model that links dropout to percentage of female peers in STEM and Non-STEM majors. The results suggest that an increase in the percentage of female peers would positively affect women, with no significant effect to male students.

Sibling Effects on High School Exam Taking and Performance
Michael Drew Hurwitz, College Board, Oded Gurantz, University of Missouri and Jonathan Smith, Georgia State University

Do Women Influence Other Women to Enter STEM Fields? Evidence from the Case of Female Teachers in Bogota, Colombia
Dario Maldonado1, Olga Dulce Salcedo2 and Fabio Sanchez1, (1)Universidad de los Andes, (2)Government of Colombia

The STEM Gender Gap and School Choice: The Transition from Middle to High School in Mexico City
Diana KL Ngo, Occidental College and Andrew Dustan, Vanderbilt University

Gender Peer Effects in Post-Secondary Vocational Education in Chile
Fernanda Ramirez-Espinoza, Harvard University

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