Rocío Sánchez-Mangas, Virginia Sánchez Marcos, 20 December 2020

While gender differences in the labour market outcomes of developed countries have declined markedly in recent decades, substantial gender gaps remain. This column examines wages among European university graduates across fields of study and finds that women with degrees in economics, business, or law experienced a significant annual wage-growth penalty if they had children, whereas women with degrees in education, humanities and the arts, STEM, health or the social sciences paid no such penalty.

Jacques Mairesse, Michele Pezzoni, Fabiana Visentin, 13 December 2020

The observation that few women reach the highest positions in science prompts the question of whether they are discriminated against. This column shows that at the French Institute of Physics at CNRS, one of Europe’s largest public research organisation, differences in research productivity account entirely for the average gender gap in the promotion from junior to senior positions. This finding does not contradict the observation that other promotion factors – such as family characteristics, mentoring, professional networks, and research responsibilities – have different impacts on female and male researchers.

Graziella Bertocchi, Monica Bozzano, 05 October 2020

For most of history, women have been undereducated relative to men. While the gender gap in education has closed – and even reversed – in recent times, sharp differences still exist across levels of education and countries. Even where women have outpaced men in educational attainment, gender gaps in employment, entrepreneurship and politics persist. Women are visibly underrepresented in STEM and economics – fields typically lead to higher employability and wages. This column reviews the historical roots of the gender gap, which, despite changing conditions and incentives, continue to exert an influence through labour markets, family formation dynamics, and cultural factors. 

Judith Delaney, Paul Devereux, 19 April 2019

Women are much less likely to study STEM degrees at university. This column reveals that in the case of Ireland, the gender gap is concentrated in the areas of engineering, technology, and mathematics. Subject choice in secondary school is the most important predictor of the portion of the gap that can be explained, with a small role for grades achieved in mathematics versus English. A gender gap of 9% remains even among students who studied the same subjects and achieved the same grades at secondary school.

Aline Bütikofer, Sissel Jensen, Kjell G. Salvanes, 29 November 2018

A recent literature argues that a ‘motherhood penalty’ is a main contributor to the persistent gender wage gap in the upper part of the earnings distribution. Using Norwegian registry data, this column studies the effect of parenthood on the careers of high-achieving women relative to high-achieving men in a set of high-earning professions. It finds that the child earnings penalty is substantially larger for mothers with an MBA or law degree than for mothers with a STEM or medical degree.

Stephan Brunow, Antonia Birkeneder, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 21 July 2018

Research is increasingly pointing to the rising concentration of creative and science-oriented workers as the basic force for making cities, and large cities in particular, the contemporary motors of innovation. This column examines whether this is the case in Germany. The results suggest that creative workers’ innovation is constrained to the boundaries of the firm, while science-based workers generate considerable innovation spillovers. Policies to generate innovation in Germany are likely to yield greater returns by focusing on ‘geeks’ rather than ‘creatives’, and innovation policy should look beyond the largest cities to a broader range of territories that have proven attractive to ‘geeks’.  

Marco Francesconi, Matthias Parey, 07 April 2018

Women earning substantially less than men in all advanced economies, despite the considerable progress women have made in labour markets worldwide. This column explores the recent experience of university graduates in Germany soon after their graduation. Men and women enter college in roughly equal numbers, but more women complete their degrees. Women enter university with slightly better high school grades but leave with slightly lower marks. Immediately after university completion, male and female full-timers work very similar number of hours, but men earn more across the pay distribution. The single most important proximate factor that explains the gap is field of study at university.

Adriana Kugler, Catherine Tinsley, Olga Ukhaneva, 02 November 2017

Despite various initiatives, a lack of female representation in fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths persists. This column studies how men and women are affected by various factors when switching out of STEM majors, including their own ability in a subject as well as gender representation within their cohort. Women are just as resilient to negative feedback as men when deciding whether to continue in a field of study, but when faced with additional signals such as an association of the field with masculinity, they appear to become more prone to opt out in response to low grades.

Nicola Bianchi, 29 December 2014

Governments sometimes promote reforms that increase access to education for a large share of the population. These reforms may lower the returns to education by altering returns to skills, education quality, and peer effects. This column examines a 1961 Italian reform that increased enrolment in university STEM majors among students who had previously been denied access. The reform ultimately failed to raise their incomes.

Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih, Chad Sparber, 29 May 2014

Immigrants to the US are drawn from both ends of the education spectrum. This column looks at the effect of highly educated immigrants – in particular, those with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics – on total factor productivity growth. The authors find that foreign STEM workers can explain 30% to 60% of US TFP growth between 1990 and 2010.

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