Economics at your fingertips  

Gendered choices of STEM subjects for matriculation are not driven by prior differences in mathematical achievement

Moshe Justman and Susan J. Méndez

Economics of Education Review, 2018, vol. 64, issue C, 282-297

Abstract: Women's under-representation in high-paying jobs in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) mirrors their earlier choices of matriculation electives: male students favour physics, information technology and advanced mathematics; female students favour life sciences. ‘Pipeline’ theories attribute these patterns to a male advantage in mathematics, but our longitudinal analysis, using administrative data on a full cohort of students in Victoria, Australia, shows that these patterns remain intact after conditioning on prior achievement. Female students require stronger prior signals of mathematical ability to choose male-dominated subjects, and when choosing these subjects earn higher average scores than males, suggesting a possible loss of efficiency. Previous research has shown that socio-economic disadvantage adversely affects boys more than girls, and indeed we find less of a male advantage in physics and advanced mathematics among socially disadvantaged students. We find that students with a language background other than English choose STEM fields with greater frequency than other students, reflecting their comparative advantage, while exhibiting more markedly gendered subject choices, indicating a role for cultural factors. Finally, we find significantly less gender streaming in STEM subjects among female students in all-girl schools than in co-educational schools, but no such difference for male students.

Keywords: Gender streaming; STEM; Matriculation; Australia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I2 J24 J16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Access Statistics for this article

Economics of Education Review is currently edited by E. Cohn

More articles in Economics of Education Review from Elsevier
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Dana Niculescu ().

Page updated 2019-02-16
Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:64:y:2018:i:c:p:282-297