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Women in STEM: Ability, preference, and value

Xuan Jiang ()

Labour Economics, 2021, vol. 70, issue C

Abstract: Women are underrepresented in both STEM college majors and STEM jobs. Even with a STEM college degree, women are significantly less likely to work in STEM occupations than their male counterparts. This paper studies the determinants of the gender gap in college major choice and job choice between STEM and non-STEM fields and quantifies how much the gender wage gap can be explained by these choices using an extended Roy Model. I find that men’s ability sorting behavior is statistically stronger than women’s in major choice, yet gender differences in ability and ability sorting together explain only a small portion of the gender gap in STEM majors. The gender gap in STEM occupations cannot be explained by the gender differences in ability or ability sorting. Instead, a part of the gender gap in STEM occupations can be explained by the fact that women are more represented in less Math-intensive STEM majors and graduates from those majors are more likely to be well-matched to and to take jobs in non-STEM occupations. The other part of the gender gap in STEM occupations can be explained by women’s preference over work-life balance and women’s home location. The counterfactual analysis shows that about 13.7% of the gender wage gap among college graduates can be explained by the returns to STEM careers among the non-STEM women in the top 6.7% of the ability distribution.

Keywords: Gender Gaps; Ability sorting; College major; STEM attrition; STEM job (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I20 I23 J16 J24 J31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:labeco:v:70:y:2021:i:c:s0927537121000269

DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2021.101991

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