Tag Archives | STEM fields

Pathways to Science and Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees for Men and Women

Joscha Legewie, Thomas A. DiPrete

Sociological Science, February 18, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a4


Despite the striking reversal of the gender gap in educational attainment and the near–gender parity in math performance, women pursue science and engineering (S/E) degrees at much lower rates than their male peers do. Current efforts to increase the number of women in these fields focus on different life-course periods but lack a clear understanding of the importance of these periods and how orientations toward S/E fields develop over time. In this article, we examine the gendered pathways to a S/E bachelor’s degree from middle school to high school and college based on a representative sample from the 1973 to 1974 birth cohort. Using a counterfactual decomposition analysis, we determine the relative importance of these different life-course periods and thereby inform the direction of future research and policy. Our findings confirm previous research that highlights the importance of early encouragement for gender differences in S/E degrees, but our findings also attest to the high school years as a decisive period for the gender gap, while challenging the focus on college in research and policy. Indeed, if female high school seniors had the same orientation toward and preparation for S/E fields as their male peers, the gender gap in S/E degrees would be closed by as much as 82 percent.

Joscha Legewie: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin fur Sozialforschung. E-mail: joscha.legewie@wzb.eu

Thomas A DiPrete: Department of Sociology, Columbia University. E-mail: tad61@columbia.edu

  • Citation: Legewie, Joscha, and Thomas A. DiPrete. 2014. “Pathways to Science and Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees for Men and Women.” Sociological Science 1: 41-48.
  • Received: September 18, 2013
  • Accepted: October 10, 2013
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a4