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Gender Differences in Persistence in a Field of Study

Michael Kaganovich (), Morgan Taylor and Ruli Xiao

No 9087, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo

Abstract: Weaker retention of women in quantitatively oriented fields, particularly STEM* is widely seen in US higher education. This persistence gap is often explained by less generous grading in these fields and the conjectured tendency of female students to generally exhibit stronger “sensitivity” to grades. We examine student persistence in a wide spectrum of academic fields using a rich Indiana University Learning Analytics dataset. We find that the phenomenon of women’s relatively lower persistence in STEM in response to lower grades does not universally extend to other disciplines. Further, a stronger response, in terms of attrition, to grades received is not a gender-specific characteristic but more likely to reflect gender differences in the underlying field preferences. In other words, it is a weaker preference for a field of study that is likely to make students more responsive to grades received in it, rather than the other way around as is commonly suggested.

Keywords: college major choice; persistence; sensitivity to grades (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D21 I23 I24 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-gen
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ces:ceswps:_9087

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