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Why Do Women Leave Science And Engineering?

  • Jennifer Hunt


I use the 1993 and 2003 National Surveys of College Graduates to examine the higher exit rate of women compared to men from science and engineering relative to other fields. I find that the higher relative exit rate is driven by engineering rather than science, and show that 60\% of the gap can be explained by the relatively greater exit rate from engineering of women dissatisfied with pay and promotion opportunities. Contrary to the existing literature, I find that family--related constraints and dissatisfaction with working conditions are only secondary factors. My results differ due to my use of non--science and engineering fields as a comparison group. The relative exit rate by gender from engineering does not differ from that of other fields once women's relatively high exit rates from male fields generally are taken into account.

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Paper provided by McGill University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2010-03.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcl:mclwop:2010-03
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  1. Jennifer Hunt, 2010. "Why Do Women Leave Science And Engineering?," Departmental Working Papers 2010-03, McGill University, Department of Economics.
  2. Jennifer Hunt & Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle, 2010. "How Much Does Immigration Boost Innovation?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 31-56, April.
  3. Hunt, Jennifer & Garant, Jean-Philippe & Herman, Hannah & Munroe, David J., 2012. "Why Don't Women Patent?," IZA Discussion Papers 6886, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2011. "Math or Science? Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Examine the Process of Choosing a College Major," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20111, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  5. Hunt, Jennifer, 2010. "Which Immigrants Are Most Innovative and Entrepreneurial? Distinctions by Entry Visa," IZA Discussion Papers 4745, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Nicole M. Fortin, 2008. "The Gender Wage Gap among Young Adults in the United States: The Importance of Money versus People," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  7. Basit Zafar, 2009. "College major choice and the gender gap," Staff Reports 364, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  8. Paula Stephan & Sharon Levin, 2005. "Leaving Careers in IT: Gender Differences in Retention," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 383-396, October.
  9. Robst, John, 2007. "Education and job match: The relatedness of college major and work," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 397-407, August.
  10. Preston, Anne E, 1994. "Why Have All the Women Gone? A Study of Exit of Women from the Science and Engineering Professions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1446-62, December.
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