High Performing Peers and Female STEM Choices in School

30 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2017

See all articles by Pierre Mouganie

Pierre Mouganie

American University of Beirut

Yaojing Wang

Texas A&M University

Date Written: October 9, 2017


Women have historically been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs. There are concerns that the persistence of this gap over time is in part due to path dependence and the historical lack of high-performing women in these fields. This paper uses administrative data from China to examine the extent to which the presence of high-performing peers in mathematics affects the likelihood that women choose a science track during high school. Results indicate that exposure to a higher proportion of high-performing females increases girls' likelihood of majoring in STEM, while exposure to more high-performing males reduces it. There is little evidence that boys' major decisions are affected by their peers. Our results indicate that high-achieving girls in quantitative fields may have a role model or affirmation effect that encourages their female classmates to pursue a path in science.

Keywords: STEM, Peer Quality, Gender Effects, China

JEL Classification: I21, I24, I26, J24

Suggested Citation

Mouganie, Pierre and Wang, Yaojing, High Performing Peers and Female STEM Choices in School (October 9, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3049991 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3049991

Pierre Mouganie (Contact Author)

American University of Beirut ( email )

Beirut, 0236

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/pierremouganie/

Yaojing Wang

Texas A&M University ( email )

Langford Building A
798 Ross St.
College Station, TX 77843-3137
United States

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