Economics at your fingertips  

Heterogeneous Major Preferences for Extrinsic Incentives: The Effects of Wage Information on the Gender Gap in STEM Major Choice

Yanqing Ding, Wei Li, Xin Li, Yinduo Wu, Jin Yang and Xiaoyang Ye ()
Additional contact information
Yanqing Ding: Peking University
Wei Li: University of Florida
Xin Li: UCLA
Yinduo Wu: Peking University
Jin Yang: Peking University
Xiaoyang Ye: Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Brown University

Research in Higher Education, 2021, vol. 62, issue 8, No 1, 1113-1145

Abstract: Abstract Despite the growing evidence of informational interventions on college and major choices, we know little about how such light-touch interventions affect the gender gap in STEM majors. Linking survey data to administrative records of Chinese college applicants, we conducted a large-scale randomized experiment to examine the STEM gender gap in the major preference beliefs, application behaviors, and admissions outcomes. We find that female students are less likely to prefer, apply to, and enroll in STEM majors, particularly Engineering majors. In a school-level cluster randomized controlled trial, we provided treated students with major-specific wage information. Students’ major preferences are easily malleable that 39% of treated students updated their preferences after receiving the wage informational intervention. The wage informational intervention has no statistically significant impacts on female students’ STEM-related major applications and admissions. In contrast, those male students in rural areas who likely lack such information are largely shifted into STEM majors as a result of the intervention. We provide supporting evidence of heterogeneous major preferences for extrinsic incentives: even among those students who are most likely to be affected by the wage information (prefer high paying majors and lack the wage information), female students are less responsive to the informational intervention.

Keywords: College application; Major choice; STEM gender gap; Informational intervention; Preference heterogeneity; Randomized experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) Abstract (text/html)
Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

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:

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from

DOI: 10.1007/s11162-021-09636-w

Access Statistics for this article

Research in Higher Education is currently edited by Robert K. Toutkoushian

More articles in Research in Higher Education from Springer, Association for Institutional Research
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Sonal Shukla () and Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing ().

Page updated 2022-05-12
Handle: RePEc:spr:reihed:v:62:y:2021:i:8:d:10.1007_s11162-021-09636-w