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Following in Her Footsteps? Women's Choices of College Majors and Faculty Gender Composition

Authors
Disciplines
  • Education
  • Engineering

Abstract

It is frequently asserted that a college's female undergraduate enrollment in the sciences and engineering can be increased by raising female representation on the faculties in these areas. Despite the widespread acceptance of this proposition, it does not appear to have been subjected to any kind of serious statistical analysis. In this paper, we assemble panel data from three rather different educational institutions, and use them to examine the relationship between the gender composition of the students in an academic department and the gender composition of its faculty at the time the students were choosing their majors. We find no evidence for the conventional view that an increase in the share of females on a department's faculty leads to an increase in its share of female majors.

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