Science: why the gender gap?
AbstractStereotypes, role models played by teachers and social norms influence girls' academic self-concept and push girls to choose humanities rather than science. Do recruiters reinforce this strong selection by discriminating more against girls in more scientific subjects? Using the entrance exam of a French higher education institution (the Ecole Normale Supérieure) as a natural experiment, we show the opposite: discrimination goes in favor of females in more male-connoted subjects (e.g. math, philosophy) and in favor of males in more female-connoted subjects (e.g. literature, biology), inducing a rebalancing of sex ratios between students recruited for a research career in science and humanities majors. We identify discrimination by systematic differences in students' scores between oral tests (non-blind toward gender) and anonymous written tests (blind toward gender). By making comparisons of these oral/written scores differences between different subjects for a given student, we are able to control both for a student's ability in each subject and for her overall ability at oral exams. The mechanisms likely to drive this positive discrimination toward the minority gender are also discussed.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance with number 386.
Date of creation: Dec 2012
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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/centrepiece/
discrimination; gender stereotypes; natural experiment; sex and science;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
- J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-01-07 (All new papers)
- NEP-DEM-2013-01-07 (Demographic Economics)
- NEP-EDU-2013-01-07 (Education)
- NEP-LAB-2013-01-07 (Labour Economics)
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