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Why Are Most University Students Women? Evidence Based on Academic Performance, Study Habits and Parental Influences

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  • Frenette, Marc
  • Zeman, Klarka

Abstract

In this study, we use new Canadian data containing detailed information on standardized test scores, school marks, parental and peer influences, and other socio-economic background characteristics of boys and girls to try to account for the large gender gap in university attendance. Among 19-year-old youth in 2003, 38.8% of girls had attended university, compared with only 25.7% of boys. However, young men and women were about equally likely to attend college. We find that differences in observable characteristics between boys and girls account for more than three quarters (76.8%) of the gap in university participation. In order of importance, the main factors are differences in school marks at age 15, standardized test scores in reading at age 15, study habits, parental expectations and the university earnings premium relative to high school. Altogether, the four measures of academic abilities used in the study "overall marks, performance on standardized reading tests, study habits and repeating grade" collectively account for 58.9% of the gender gap in university participation. These results suggest that understanding why girls outperform boys in the classroom may be a key to understanding the gender divide in university participation.

Suggested Citation

  • Frenette, Marc & Zeman, Klarka, 2007. "Why Are Most University Students Women? Evidence Based on Academic Performance, Study Habits and Parental Influences," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2007303e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  • Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2007303e
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christofides, Louis N. & Hoy, Michael & Milla, Joniada & Stengos, Thanasis, 2012. "Grades, Aspirations and Post-Secondary Education Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 6867, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Christopher Cornwell & David B. Mustard & Jessica Van Parys, 2013. "Noncognitive Skills and the Gender Disparities in Test Scores and Teacher Assessments: Evidence from Primary School," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(1), pages 236-264.
    3. Philip Oreopoulos & Daniel Lang & Joshua Angrist, 2009. "Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 136-163, January.
    4. Nicole M. Fortin & Philip Oreopoulos & Shelley Phipps, 2015. "Leaving Boys Behind: Gender Disparities in High Academic Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(3), pages 549-579.
    5. Brahim Boudarbat, 2011. "Labour market integration of immigrants in Quebec: a comparison with Ontario and British Columbia," CIRANO Project Reports 2011rp-09, CIRANO.

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    Keywords

    Education; training and learning; Educational attainment; Literacy; Society and community; Women and gender;

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