Math and Gender: Is Math a Route to a High-Powered Career?

32 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2013

See all articles by Juanna Schrøter Joensen

Juanna Schrøter Joensen

University of Chicago; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Helena Skyt Nielsen

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

There is a large gender gap in advanced math coursework in high school that many believe exists because girls are discouraged from taking math courses. In this paper, we exploit an institutional change that reduced the costs of acquiring advanced high school math to determine if access is, in fact, the mechanism – in particular for girls at the top of the math ability distribution. By estimating marginal treatment effects of acquiring advanced math qualifications, we document substantial beneficial wage effects from encouraging even more females to opt for these qualifications.Our analysis suggests that the beneficial effect comes from accelerating graduation and attracting females to high-paid or traditionally male-dominated career tracks and to CEO positions. Our results may be reconciled with experimental and empirical evidence suggesting there is a pool of unexploited math talent among high ability girls that may be retrieved by changing the institutional set-up of math teaching.

Keywords: math, gender, career choice, high school curriculum, instrumental variable

JEL Classification: I21, J24

Suggested Citation

Joensen, Juanna Schrøter and Nielsen, Helena Skyt, Math and Gender: Is Math a Route to a High-Powered Career?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7164, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2210824

Juanna Schrøter Joensen (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Helena Skyt Nielsen

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business Economics ( email )

Fuglesangs Alle 4
Aarhus, 8210
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://person.au.dk/hnielsen@econ.au.dk

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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