Panel Paper: Do Single-Sex Schools Make Girls Less Interested in Predominantly Male Majors?

Monday, April 10, 2017 : 12:00 AM
HUB 355 (University of California, Riverside)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jihye Kam, University of Wisconsin – Madison
This study estimates the impact of single-sex schooling on the gender gap in students’ choice of college major. Potential endogeneity concerns are alleviated by using two features of the South Korean educational setting: random assignment of students into general high schools in equalized educational districts and college-major-specific admissions policies. Single-sex schooling is found to widen the gender gap in the choice of predominantly male majors by 15.4 percentage points and to reduce in the choice of gender balanced majors by 23.2 percentage points. The results further show that single-sex schooling is associated with reallocation of female students from predominantly male or female majors to gender balanced majors while the net change in the gender gap is not statistically significant for predominantly female majors. One possible mechanism through which single-sex schooling affects college major choice is the imbalanced gender composition of teachers by school type. Increasing the overall proportion of female teachers could encourage more girls to pursue gender-balanced majors instead of predominantly female majors but would be insufficient to attract them to predominantly male majors. To nullify the negative effect of single-sex schooling on the choice of predominantly male majors, all girls’ schools need to recruit more male teachers who instruct science and mathematics while maintaining the share of female teachers at or above 57.8 percent. These findings provide policy implications on preferential hiring criteria, with respect to the gender composition of teachers by subject.