Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Underrepresentation of Women in Economics: A Study of Undergraduate Economics Students

Contents:

Author Info

  • Karen E. Dynan
  • Cecilia Elena Rouse
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Although women are underrepresented in the field of economics, many see little need for intervention, arguing that women are inherently less interested in economics, or are less willing or able to get the math skills skills needed to do well in the subject. At the same time, others support active efforts to increase the number of women in the field, citing other possible causes of their current underrepresentation. These people argue, for example, that women are deterred from entering the field because of a lack of female role models, or that women are discouraged by an unappealing classroom environment. This study assesses these hypotheses by examining factors that influence undergraduate students' decisions to become economics majors using a survey of students in the introductory economics course at Harvard University as well as data on an entire class of students from Harvard's registrar. We find that although women in the introductory economics course at Harvard tend to begin the course with a weaker math background than men, math background does not explain much of the gender difference in students' decisions about majoring in economics. The class environment and the presence or absence of role models also do not explain much of the gender gap. On the other hand, women do less well in economics relative to other courses than men do, and controlling for this difference in relative performance significantly diminishes the estimated gender gap. An economically large but statistically insignificant difference between sexes in the probability of majoring in economics remains, however, which may be due to differing tastes or information about the nature of economics.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5299.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5299.

    as in new window
    Length:
    Date of creation: Oct 1995
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: published as The Journal of Economic Education, Vol. 28, no. 4 (Fall 1997): 350-368.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5299

    Note: LS
    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Email:
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research

    Keywords:

    Find related papers by JEL classification:

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Durden, Garey C & Ellis, Larry V, 1995. "The Effects of Attendance on Student Learning in Principles of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 343-46, May.
    2. Bartlett, Robin L, 1995. "Attracting "Otherwise Bright Students" to Economics 101," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 362-66, May.
    3. Maxwell, Nan L & Lopus, Jane S, 1994. "The Lake Wobegon Effect in Student Self-Reported Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 201-05, May.
    4. Richard Sabot & John Wakeman-Linn, 1991. "Grade Inflation and Course Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 159-170, Winter.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. David Neumark & Rosella Gardecki, 1996. "Women Helping Women? Role-Model and Mentoring Effects on Female Ph.D. Student in Economics," NBER Working Papers 5733, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5299. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.