Panel H.05 — Gender inequalities in STEM education and the labour market: evidence, determinants, and interventions
Convenors Dalit Contini (University of Turin, Italy); Giovanni Boscaino (University of Palermo, Italy); Antonella D’Agostino (University of Siena, Italy)
Keywords gender gap, STEM education, math skills, gender norms, policy evaluation
Empirical evidence from around the world shows that women are persistently underrepresented in STEM fields in education and the labour market. The untapped talent and skills of women in STEM are seen as a waste of human resources and have a negative impact on a country’s ability to innovate and compete globally. It can also contribute to exacerbating gender inequalities in society, underpinning horizontal segregation in the labour market and fuelling the gender pay gap. Existing research has analysed possible determinants of these differences, focusing on different mechanisms: gender norms and stereotypes (e.g. Charles and Bradley, 2009; Nollenberger et al., 2016), differential competitiveness between girls and boys (e.g. Delaney and Devereux, 2021), peer behaviour (e.g. Carrell et al., 2018). Other contributions highlight the stereotype of female inadequacy in math-intensive fields, which may further discourage women from pursuing such pathways (e.g. Carlana, 2019; Correll, 2001).
Cultural factors play a crucial role in shaping these differences. Gender stereotypes may steer individuals towards subjects and careers considered appropriate for their gender: the pervasive association of science and technology with masculinity reinforces traditional gender roles and limits girls’ interest in STEM fields (Reskin and Bielby, 2005). However, the extent to which career choices are gendered does not appear to be lower in more gender-equal countries (EIGE, 2018), implying that the phenomenon is indeed quite complex.
This panel focuses on gender inequalities in STEM. We encourage contributions that analyse inequalities in educational choices in different contexts, identify potential correlates and causes, and link educational choices to labour market outcomes. We also welcome empirical contributions that shed light on the interplay between gender and family background inequalities, as well as studies that analyse cross-country differences. Finally, we solicit the presentation of abstracts that evaluate the impact of interventions aimed at addressing the gender gap in educational and career choices (e.g. by empowering girls, reinforcing gender role models in STEM, helping girls develop an interest in technical fields, improving their mathematics skills and self-confidence in mathematics).