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Girls, girls, girls: gender composition and female school choice

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  • Nicole Schneeweis
  • Martina Zweimüller

Abstract

Gender segregation in the labor market may be explained by women's re- luctance to choose technical occupations, although the foundations for career choices are certainly laid earlier, during education. Educational experts claim that female students are doing better in math and science and are more likely to choose those subjects if they are in single-sex classes. Possible explanations are the lack of self-confidence of girls in male-dominated subjects, the domi- nating behavior of boys in the classroom and unequal treatment by teachers. In this paper, we identify the causal impact of gender composition in coedu- cational classes on the choice of school type for female students. We propose that girls are less likely to choose a female-dominated school type at the age of 14 after spending the previous years in classes with a higher share of female students. We address the problem of endogenous school choice by using nat- ural variation in gender composition of adjacent cohorts within schools. The results are clear-cut and survive powerful falsification and sensitivity checks: Females are less likely to choose a female-dominated school type and more likely to choose the technical school type if they were exposed to a higher share of girls in previous grades. Our paper contributes to the recent debate about coeducation either in certain subjects or at the school level.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicole Schneeweis & Martina Zweimüller, 2009. "Girls, girls, girls: gender composition and female school choice," NRN working papers 2009-05, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  • Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2009_05
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    Cited by:

    1. Anne Ardila Brenøe & Ulf Zölitz, 2018. "Exposure to more female peers widens the gender gap in STEM participation," ECON - Working Papers 285, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. BARONE, Adriana & NESE, Annamaria, 2014. "Body Weight and Academic Performance: Gender and Peer Effects," CELPE Discussion Papers 129, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy.
    3. Strain, Michael R., 2013. "Single-sex classes & student outcomes: Evidence from North Carolina," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 73-87.
    4. Eisenkopf, Gerald & Hessami, Zohal & Fischbacher, Urs & Ursprung, Heinrich W., 2015. "Academic performance and single-sex schooling: Evidence from a natural experiment in Switzerland," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 123-143.
    5. Favara, Marta, 2012. "The Cost of Acting "Girly": Gender Stereotypes and Educational Choices," IZA Discussion Papers 7037, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Sahoo, Soham & Klasen, Stephan, 2018. "Gender Segregation in Education and Its Implications for Labour Market Outcomes: Evidence from India," IZA Discussion Papers 11660, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Schindler, Dirk & Schjelderup, Guttorm, 2012. "Debt shifting and ownership structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 635-647.
    8. Park, Hyunjoon & Behrman, Jere R. & Choi, Jaesung, 2018. "Do single-sex schools enhance students’ STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) outcomes?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 35-47.
    9. Massimo Anelli & Giovanni Peri, 2013. "Peer Gender Composition and Choice of College Major," NBER Working Papers 18744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jillian Berk & Linda Rosenberg & Lindsay Cattell & Johanna Lacoe & Lindsay Fox & Myley Dang & Elizabeth Brown, "undated". "The External Review of Job Corps: An Evidence Scan Report," Mathematica Policy Research Reports c862f115989a4b94a151e38d9, Mathematica Policy Research.
    11. Barone, Adriana & Nese, Annamaria, 2015. "Body Weight and Gender: Academic Choice and Performance," MPRA Paper 68450, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    13. Anelli, Massimo & Peri, Giovanni, 2015. "Peers' Composition Effects in the Short and in the Long Run: College Major, College Performance and Income," IZA Discussion Papers 9119, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Brenøe, Anne Ardila, 2018. "Origins of Gender Norms: Sibling Gender Composition and Women's Choice of Occupation and Partner," IZA Discussion Papers 11692, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Doris, Aedín & O’Neill, Donal & Sweetman, Olive, 2013. "Gender, single-sex schooling and maths achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 104-119.
    16. Bottia, Martha Cecilia & Stearns, Elizabeth & Mickelson, Roslyn Arlin & Moller, Stephanie & Valentino, Lauren, 2015. "Growing the roots of STEM majors: Female math and science high school faculty and the participation of students in STEM," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 14-27.
    17. Anne Ardila Brenøe, 2018. "Origins of gender norms: sibling gender composition and women's choice of occupation and partner," ECON - Working Papers 294, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    18. Paredes, Valentina, 2014. "A teacher like me or a student like me? Role model versus teacher bias effect," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 38-49.
    19. Benoît Rapoport & Claire Thibout, 2016. "Why Do Boys and Girls Make Different Educational Choices? The Influence of Expected Earnings and Test Scores," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n01, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    20. Oleg V. Poldin & Tania P. Simoes & Marcelo Knobel & Maria M. Yudkevich, 2015. "Estimation of Peer Effects with Predicted Social Ties: Evidence from Two Universities in Brazil and Russia," HSE Working papers WP BRP 30/EDU/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    21. Mouganie, Pierre & Wang, Yaojing, 2017. "High Performing Peers and Female STEM Choices in School," MPRA Paper 81860, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender segregation; coeducation; career choice;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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