High School Choices and the Gender Gap in STEM
September 28, 2017 - Presented by Professor A. Abigail Payne from the University of Melbourne, hosted by the School of Economics, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY
Date / Time
11:00 am 28/09/2017 -
12:30 pm 28/09/2017
Merewether Room 498
The University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW, Australia
Are couples with daughters more likely to divorce than couples with sons? Evidence of this phenomenon from the United States has not been replicated in other developed countries, and even within the U.S. there is disagreement regarding the existence and causes of such an association. Using Dutch registry and U.S. survey data, we shWomen who graduate from university are less likely than men to specialize in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). We use detailed administrative data for a recent cohort of high school students in Ontario, Canada, combined with data from the province’s university admission system to analyze the dynamic process leading to this gap. We show that entry to STEM programs is mediated through an index of STEM readiness based on end‐of‐high‐school courses in math and science. Most of the gender gap in STEM entry can be traced to differences in the rate of STEM readiness; less than a fifth is due to differences in the choice of major conditional on readiness. We then use high school course data to decompose the gap in STEM readiness among university entrants into two channels: one reflecting the gender gap in the fraction of high school students with the necessary prerequisites to enter STEM, and a second arising from differences in the fractions of females and males who enter university. The gender gap in the fraction of students with STEM prerequisites is small. The main factor is the lower university entry rate by men ‐‐ a difference that is due to the lower fraction of non‐science oriented males who complete enough advanced level courses to qualify for university entry. We conclude that differences in course‐taking patterns and preferences for STEM conditional on readiness contribute to male‐female differences in the rate of entering STEM, but that the main source of the gap is the lower overall rate of university attendance by men.
Professor A. Abigail Payne joined the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research as Director and Ronald Henderson Professor in 2016. Prior to this appointment she was a professor of economics at McMaster University (Canada) where she was the inaugural director of MacDATA, McMaster’s Big Data Institute (created in 2015) and the director of the Public Economics Data Analysis Laboratory (“PEDAL”) a data facility she created in 2003 whose goal is to develop high quality research data sets for projects that address key public sector issues. Previous to her appoint at McMaster she was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois and the Institute for Government and Public Affairs (Illinois), and the University of Toronto. Prior to receiving her PhD, she practiced law for a private law firm in Washington, D.C. Payne works on empirical issues, relying primarily on measures from administrative and proprietary data, using creative ways to link measures across data sources. Her research encompasses questions around student performance and the effects of policy on educational outcomes, and understanding donor and charity behavior. Her current research in the area of charities and charitable giving concerns understanding the motivations of private donors, the role of fundraising in private giving, how policies and demographic changes affect charity operations, and the effect of charitable operations on community outcomes. Dr. Payne’s current research in the area of the economics of education includes understanding the decision to attend post-secondary education (PSE), understanding gender gaps in educational performance, and the determinants of successful transitions from high school to university. Dr. Payne received her Ph.D. from Princeton University. She holds a J.D. from Cornell University and a B.A. from Denison University. She has published in the American Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Law and Economics, and many other journals. She has served on editorial boards of national and international journals, has beenan International Fellow with the Centre for Market and Public Organisation at the University of Bristol (UK), is a member of the CESifo Research Network (Germany). She has previously served as president of the Canadian Women’s Economists Network and as a member on the board of directors of the Canadian Economics Association, the Association for Educational Finance and Policy, and the Fort York Food Bank (Toronto charity). Her collaborations include researchers located in Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. Previously Dr. Payne was a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Public Economics and she received a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship for her research on higher education issues.ow that daughters are associated with higher divorce risks, but only when they are 13-18 years old. The age-specific nature of the effect rules out explanations overarching son preferences and selection. Our findings instead support causal mechanisms involving relationship dynamics in families with teenage children.