Parents and Peers: Gender Stereotypes in the Field of Study

66 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2021

See all articles by Michela Carlana

Michela Carlana

Harvard Kennedy School

Lucia Corno

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan - Institute of Economy and Finance

Date Written: September 2021

Abstract

Gender segregation in the field of study is still a pervasive phenomenon in many countries. In this paper, we highlight the crucial role of parents and peers in adolescents’ decision making on their educational choices, leading to a mismatch of talents. We design a lab-in-the-field experiment that exposes 2,500 middle school students in Italy to different information treatments before they choose between a female-typed task (literature) and a male-typed task (math). We find that students choose a more gender-stereotypical subject (girls choose more literature and boys choose more math) when they are induced to think about the recommendation of same-gender parents. The effect is driven by girls who expect literature as a recommendation from their mothers and boys who expect math as a recommendation from their fathers. The field choice of male and female students is not affected when they expect their peers to observe their decision. However, we show that girls shy away from math to avoid interactions in male-dominated contexts.

Keywords: Field of study, gender stereotypes, Parents, Peers

JEL Classification: I24, I25, O10

Suggested Citation

Carlana, Michela and Corno, Lucia, Parents and Peers: Gender Stereotypes in the Field of Study (September 2021). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP16582, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3960154

Michela Carlana (Contact Author)

Harvard Kennedy School ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Lucia Corno

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan - Institute of Economy and Finance ( email )

Via Necchi 5
20123 Milano
Italy

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
0
Abstract Views
184
PlumX Metrics