Graduation Year

2016

Date of Submission

4-2016

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Economics

Second Department

Mathematics

Reader 1

David Bjerk

Reader 2

Sam Nelson

Rights Information

© 2016 Alexandra N. Arnett

Abstract

Women today are still highly outnumbered by men in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This study analyzes the relationship between girls’ gender role attitudes in adolescence and their likelihood of working in a STEM occupation between the ages of 25 and 30 years old. My paper focuses on how conservative gender role attitudes, with men thought of as the breadwinners and women as the homemakers, may negatively affect a woman’s likelihood of holding a STEM career. I use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) to analyze both a strict definition of STEM as well as a broader one that includes related professions in the social sciences and teaching. Via a regression approach, I hold constant other adolescent attributes to find a direct, negative relationship between adolescent girls with conservative gender role attitudes and future STEM careers. I find that for strict STEM careers, women are .46 percentage points less likely than men to work in STEM between the ages of 25 and 30 years old with statistical significance at the 1% level. Creating an interaction variable for conservative gender role attitudes and female, I distinguish by gender to find an additional improbability of holding a STEM job for conservative women. Conservative women are .32 percentage points less likely work in a STEM job between the ages of 25 and 30 years old with statistical significance at the 5% level. Helping to explain the gender gap in STEM, my results show that adolescent girls with conservative gender role attitudes are much less likely than boys to work in a STEM career.

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