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Gender and Choices in Higher Education

Anne Boring and Jennifer Brown
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Anne Boring: Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques
Jennifer Brown: University of Utah (UUtah)

No 122, Sciences Po publications from Sciences Po

Abstract: Data on the labor market outcomes of university graduates show that gender pay gaps appear soon after graduation in nearly every field of study. We provide descriptive evidence of a plausible cause of the gender starting-salary gap: choices within an educational setting that differ between male and female students, even after accounting for academic specialization. We examine the choices of undergraduate students at a selective French university who are competing for seats at foreign universities to fulfill a mandatory exchange program requirement. Holding fixed students’ field of study, we find that average and high-ability female students request exchange universities that are worse-ranked than their male peers. A survey eliciting students’ preferences suggests that male students prioritize the academic characteristics of potential exchange universities more often, whereas similar female students consider both the academic and non-academic characteristics of exchange destinations. We explore the short-term consequences of these differing preferences using a simulation that assigns students to exchange seats solely on university ranking and students’ academic performance. Female students’ assignment improves almost uniformly, whereas top-performing male students face increased competition for seats and male students with average grades face less competition as high-achieving female students shift towards better-ranked assignments.

Keywords: gender gaps; choices; higher education (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-gen
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