12.30-1.30pm, Wed 3rd May 2017
Seminar Room 515, Level 5, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton
Professor A. Abigail Payne, Director and Ronald Henderson Professor, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne
We are in an era where we are awash in data, especially from administrative and proprietary sources – what are some of the challenges researchers face when confronting data? Issues on discussing the use of data will be discussed in the context of a recent working paper on gender differences in pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). In most developed countries, a smaller fraction of women than men graduate from university with a STEM degree. In this study, detailed administrative data for a recent cohort of high school students were used to analyze the dynamic process leading to this gap. It was found that entry to STEM programs is mediated through an index of STEM-readiness based on end-of-highschool courses in math and science. Most of the gender gap in STEM entry can be traced to male-female differences in the rate of STEM-readiness: less than a fifth is due to differences in choice of major conditional on readiness. High school course data were then used to decompose the gap in STEM-readiness into two channels: one reflecting the gender gap in the fraction of students with the necessary prerequisites to enter STEM; a second arising from differences in the overall fractions of females and males who enter university.