报告题目：“Absolute” versus “Comparative” Advantage: Consequences for Gender Gaps in STEM and College Access in Emerging Economies
曲玥博士作学术报告“Absolute” versus “Comparative” Advantage: Consequences for Gender Gaps in STEM and College Access in Emerging Economies”
Students in many emerging economies are required tochoose between a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) track and non-STEM track in high school, the so-called "STEM track choice." This choice is largely irreversible and, in competitive education systems (the environment in which most of the world’s scientists and engineers are educated), determines whetherstudents will compete with STEM or non-STEM track students for chances to enter college. Given growing evidence that students frame their abilities in different ways when making choices and that girls and boys respond differently to competitive choices, the purpose of this paper is to understand how girls and boys make the STEM track choice and the consequences of this choice for gender inequality in education. Using two different datasets from China, we find that girls are more likely to make their choice based on their "comparative advantage" in STEM versus non-STEM subjects whereas boys make their choice based on their "absolute advantage" in STEM subjects. In other words, when making their STEM track choice, girls are more likely to compare their own ability in STEM subjects versus their own ability in non-STEM subjects, whereas boys are more likely to compare their own STEM ability with the STEM ability of other students. We also show that choosing the non-STEM track greatly decreases access to college or elite colleges among those girls that make their STEM track choices based on their comparative advantage. In sum, girls assess their abilities differently from boys when making STEM choices and this leads to choices that are harmful—not only in terms of failing to enter STEM majors but also in terms of failing to access college and elite colleges.