Rigissa Megalokonomou - Why are there too few female Engineers? Evidence on teachers' stereotypes

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Barbara Broadway


Melbourne Institute Seminar

Title:  Why are there too few female Engineers? Evidence on teachers' stereotypes

Abstract: In this paper, we estimate the effect of school teachers’ gender biases on boys’ and girls’ academic performance. Our identification relies on the random matching of students and teachers within schools over several cohorts. We use a set of blind and non-blind exams for each student in various subjects and match this measure of teacher bias with information regarding the college each student enrolls in. We observe teachers who are pro-boys and teachers who are pro-girls but we find strong evidence that on average teachers are pro-girls. Teachers’ biases that favor girls in specific subjects have a positive effect on girls' subsequent academic performance in related subjects and enrollment in the related college fields. For boys the effect on subsequent performance is negative but we find no effect on their choice of college major. Such teachers’ stereotypical biases contribute to the gender gap in academic degrees in fields like engineering and computer science, and by implication they also contribute to the gender gap in related occupations. These results suggest that teachers’ stereotypical behavior at important stages in school have long run implications for occupational choices at adulthood.

Presenter: Dr Rigissa Megalokonomou, University of Queensland

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