Comparative Advantage and Gender Gap in Stem

67 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2020

See all articles by Sofoklis Goulas

Sofoklis Goulas

Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace

Silvia Griselda

University of Melbourne

Rigissa Megalokonomou

University of Queensland - School of Economics

Abstract

Why are females compared to males both more likely to have strong STEM-related performance and less likely to study STEM later on? We exploit random assignment of students to classrooms in Greece to identify the impact of comparative advantage in STEM relative to non-STEM subjects on STEM specialization decisions. We approximate comparative STEM advantage using the within-classroom ranking of the ratio of early-high school performance in STEM over non-STEM subjects. We find that females who are assigned to classroom peers among which they have a higher comparative STEM advantage are more likely to choose a STEM school track and apply to a STEM degree. Comparative STEM advantage appears irrelevant for males. Our results suggest that comparative STEM advantage explains at least 12% of the under-representation of qualified females in the earliest instance of STEM specialization. We discuss the mechanisms that amplify the role of comparative STEM advantage in STEM study.

Keywords: gender gap, STEM, random peer effects, ordinal rank, absolute advantage, comparative advantage

JEL Classification: I21, I24, J24

Suggested Citation

Goulas, Sofoklis and Griselda, Silvia and Megalokonomou, Rigissa, Comparative Advantage and Gender Gap in Stem. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13313, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3620627

Sofoklis Goulas (Contact Author)

Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

Silvia Griselda

University of Melbourne

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, 3053
Australia

Rigissa Megalokonomou

University of Queensland - School of Economics ( email )

Brisbane, QLD 4072
Australia

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