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Stereotypes, Discrimination and the Gender Gap in Science

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  • Breda, Thomas
  • Ly, Son Thierry

Abstract

We investigate the link between subject-related gender stereotypes and gender discrimination, and its consequences for the gender gap in science. Stereotypes 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 male-connoted subjects? Taking the entrance exam of a French higher education institution (the Ecole Normale Supérieure) as a natural experiment, we show the opposite: discrimination works 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 gender ratios between students recruited for research careers in science and humanities majors. We identify discrimination from systematic differences in students' scores between oral tests (not gender blind) and anonymous written tests (gender blind). By making comparisons of these oral/written score differences across subjects for a given student, we are able to control both for students’ abilities in each subject and their overall ability at oral exams. Selection issues, external validity and the mechanisms driving this discrimination running against stereotypes are also discussed.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CEPREMAP in its series CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) with number 1303.

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Length: 61 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpm:docweb:1303

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Keywords: discrimination; gender stereotypes; natural experiment; sex and science;

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