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Xiaoyue SHAN - University of Zurich

Xiaoyue Shan (University of Zurich) will present "Does Minority Status Drive Women Out Of Male-Dominated Fields ?"

Abstract :
This paper examines whether women’s status as the minority gender causes them to drop out of male-dominated fields. I conduct a field experiment in an introductory Economics course where I randomly assign students to small study groups with different gender compositions. Results show that women assigned as the minority gender in study groups become 10 percentage points more likely to drop out of the course than women assigned to other groups. In contrast, minority status does not significantly affect men’s dropout behavior. I present suggestive evidence on educational expectations and peer-to-peer interaction as underlying mechanisms through which minority status raises female dropout. Women who experience minority status form more pessimistic expectations about their future academic achievement and interact less frequently with their peers. The findings of the paper suggest that minority status can perpetuate itself and lead to a vicious cycle of female underrepresentation in male-dominated fields.