Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Role Models

The latest:
Although women earn approximately 50 percent of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) bachelor’s degrees, more than 70 percent of scientists and engineers are men. We explore a potential determinant of this STEM gender gap using newly collected data on the career trajectories of United States Air Force Academy students. Specifically, we examine the effects of being assigned female math and science professors on occupation choice and postgraduate education. We find that, among high-ability female students, being assigned a female professor leads to substantial increases in the probability of working in a STEM occupation and the probability of receiving a STEM master’s degree.
This is the killer argument for affirmative action. You may wish that the gender and race of teachers would make no difference, but lots of studies have found effects like this; for some people it really matters to see "someone like me" in a leading role.


szopeno said...

Disagree. This is just a one study. Plus, how comes women became majority of PhDs in some other fields, without there being too many role models in the beginning?

szopeno said...

Plus, this could be used also the other way. Women form majority of teachers in pretty much every country in the west. Man are majority of population in the age cohorts eligible for high education, yet they form minority of students except very few fields. SHould there be affirmative action for more male teachers in public schools?

szopeno said...

I wonder also whether increasing the fraction of female math professors would affect also the percentages of male students. I do not see a thing about that in the paper. Effects are also for top quartile of females, but I am not sure whether by that they mean "top 1/4 of females" or "females which are in top 1/4 of scores (not necessarily top 1/4 of females".

Plus, 33% females with bachelors degree went on to get master's degree, while only 22% of males; 1.7% of femlaes with bachelors degree earned professional degree, compared with less than 1% of males; Seems like there is already imbalance in favaour of women in terms of effects.


John said...

When you look at the growing number of female professors you often find that they had the same female mentors; certain female professors of the previous generation have dozens of "descendants" in the next generation. It is thus that the number has grown.

szopeno said...

Hm, something mentioned by one commenter on marginalrevolutions: seems that assigning to female professor lowers the rates for low-ability female students. Actually, I checked and I am not sure whether I interpret the fig 1 correctly, but indeed it seems the relation is complicated and that for some groups of female student, "female role models" actually lowers their chances (Depending onn outcome, it lowers chances for STEM occupation, higher math cource etc for bottom 30 percentile up to bottom 50 percentile of students!).

So the true conclusion is: female role models increase chance for high-ability females, have complicated relations and often lower chances for low and average-ability females.