Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap

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Scott E. Carrell ; Marianne E. Page ; James E. West (2009)
  • Subject:
    • jel: jel:I20 | jel:J24
    acm: ComputingMilieux_GENERAL | ComputingMilieux_COMPUTERSANDEDUCATION | ComputingMilieux_THECOMPUTINGPROFESSION
    mesheuropmc: education

Why aren't there more women in science? Female college students are currently 37 percent less likely than males to obtain a bachelor's degree in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and comprise only 25 percent of the STEM workforce. This paper begins to shed light on this issue by exploiting a unique dataset of college students who have been randomly assigned to professors over a wide variety of mandatory standardized courses. We focus on the role of professor gender. Our results suggest that while professor gender has little impact on male students, it has a powerful effect on female students' performance in math and science classes, their likelihood of taking future math and science courses, and their likelihood of graduating with a STEM degree. The estimates are largest for female students with very strong math skills, who are arguably the students who are most suited to careers in science. Indeed, the gender gap in course grades and STEM majors is eradicated when high performing female students' introductory math and science classes are taught by female professors. In contrast, the gender of humanities professors has only minimal impact on student outcomes. We believe that these results are indicative of important environmental influences at work.
  • References (71)
    71 references, page 1 of 8

    1National Bureau of Economic Research (2006) 2National Science Foundation (2006) 3Feingold (1988) Friedman (1989) Goldin, Katz, and Kuziemko (2006) Hyde (1981) Hyde, Fennema, and Lamon (1990) Leahey and Guo (2001) Linn and Hyde (1989) National Science Foundation (1904) Nowell and Hedges (1998) and Xie and Shauman (2003).

    4See Boggiano, Main, and Katz (1988), Cutrona, Cole, Colangelo, Assouline, and Russell (1994), Elliott and Dweck (1988) and Harackiewicz and Elliot (1993).

    5See Arnold (1995), Badgett and Folbre (2003), Betz (1997), Betz and Hackett (1981), Betz and Hackett (1983), Eccles (1987), Hyde (1997), Hall and Sandler (1982), Hanson (1996), Lapan, Shaughnessy, and Boggs (1996), Leslie, McClure, and Oaxaca (1998), Lunneborg (1982), Seymour and Hewitt (2000), Tobias (1993), Tobias and Lin (1991) and Ware and Lee (1988).

    6See Nixon and Robinson (1999), Ehrenberg, Goldhaber, and Brewer (1995), Dee (2005), Dee (2007), Holmlund and Sund (2007), Carrington, Tymms, and Merrell (2005), Carrington, Tymms, and Merrell (2008), Lahelma (2000) and Lavy and Schlosser (2007) 7While the students in Ho man and Oreopoulos's dataset are not randomly assigned and do not take mandatory STEM courses, their dataset has one similarity to ours, which is that course grades are determined by a general exam that is given to all students enrolled in the course, regardless of which professor they have taken the course from. 22For recent work estimating teacher value-added models see Rivkin, Hanushek, and Kain (2005), Kane, Rocko , and Staiger (2008), Kane and Staiger (2008), Ho mann and Oreopoulos (2009), and Carrell and West (2008).

    Badgett, M. V. L., and N. Folbre (2003): \Job Gendering: Occupational Choice and the Marriage Market," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 42(2), 270{298.

    Barron, J. M., B. T. Ewing, and G. R. Waddell (2000): \The E ects of High School Participation on Education and Labor Market Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, 82(3), 409{421.

    Bettinger, E., and B. T. Long (2005): \Do Faculty Serve as Role Models? The Impact of Instructor Gender on Female Students," American Economic Review, 95(2), 152{157.

    Betz, N. (1997): \What Stops Women and Minorities from Choosing and Completing Majors in Science and Engineering?," in Minorities and Girls in School: E ects on Achievement and Performance, ed. by D. Johnson, and D. H. Johnson, pp. 105{140. Sage Publications.

    Betz, N. E., and G. Hackett (1981): \The Relationship of Career-Related Self-E cacy Expectations to Perceived Career Options in College Women and Men," Journal of Counseling Psychology, 28(5), 399{410.

    (1983): \The Relationship of Mathematics Self-E cacy Expectations to the Selection of Science-Based College Majors," Journal of Vocational Behavior, 23(3), 329{345.

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