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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 is taken into account.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15853.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15853.

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Date of creation: Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15853
Note: LS
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  1. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2011. "Math or Science? Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Examine the Process of Choosing a College Major," NBER Working Papers 16869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Jennifer Hunt, 2010. "Why Do Women Leave Science And Engineering?," Departmental Working Papers 2010-03, McGill University, Department of Economics.
  4. Jennifer Hunt & Jean-Philippe Garant & Hannah Herman & David J. Munroe, 2012. "Why Don't Women Patent?," NBER Working Papers 17888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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).
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Basit Zafar, 2009. "College major choice and the gender gap," Staff Reports 364, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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