Testing the Influence of Course-Level Gender Representation on Postsecondary Achievement and Major Choice

Kimberlee A. Shauman, University of California, Davis
Michal Kurlaender, University of California, Davis

This paper examines the question, does the gender representation in postsecondary classes influence achievement and field specialization? We use a unique data source that includes detailed course-taking information for four cohorts of students (roughly 15,000 students) to test the influence of the sex ratio in introductory-level courses on achievement, persistence in field-specific course sequences, and major choice. We accomplish a more comprehensive examination of gender representation effects than exists in the extant literature by testing whether the effect operates nonlinearly, whether the relationship varies across major fields, and if gender representation operates differently for male and female students.

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Presented in Session 144: Higher Education