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Preprints, Working Papers, ... (Working Paper) Year : 2021

Gender and Choices in Higher Education


Data on the labor market outcomes of university graduates show that gender pay gaps appear soon after graduation in nearly every field of study. We provide descriptive evidence of a plausible cause of the gender starting-salary gap: choices within an educational setting that differ between male and female students, even after accounting for academic specialization. We examine the choices of undergraduate students at a selective French university who are competing for seats at foreign universities to fulfill a mandatory exchange program requirement. Holding fixed students’ field of study, we find that average and high-ability female students request exchange universities that are worse-ranked than their male peers. A survey eliciting students’ preferences suggests that male students prioritize the academic characteristics of potential exchange universities more often, whereas similar female students consider both the academic and non-academic characteristics of exchange destinations. We explore the short-term consequences of these differing preferences using a simulation that assigns students to exchange seats solely on university ranking and students’ academic performance. Female students’ assignment improves almost uniformly, whereas top-performing male students face increased competition for seats and male students with average grades face less competition as high-achieving female students shift towards better-ranked assignments.
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hal-03383112 , version 1 (18-10-2021)


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Anne Boring, Jennifer Brown. Gender and Choices in Higher Education. 2021. ⟨hal-03383112⟩
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