Primary Research Focus: Labor Economics, Economics of Education
Secondary Research Focus: Public Economics
References: Michael Dinerstein (Chair), Christina Brown, Jack Mountjoy
Job Market Paper Title: "Peer Gender Composition and Undergraduate Achievement and Major Choice"
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Large gender differences exist in the take-up and completion of college majors across academic fields. The degree of gender concentration within fields tends to increase over time spent in college. In this paper, I investigate how the gender composition of peers in first-semester classes impacts women’s and men’s academic outcomes and major choices. I find that a larger proportion of male peers hurts female academic achievement and decreases female persistence in majors, relative to men in the same classes. The effect of male peers on female non-persistence in major is consistent with the mechanism of poor grades causing negative updates in beliefs about major-specific ability. An ability-based mechanism does not fit for the positive effect of male peers on male persistence in majors. This points to men having some form of taste-based preference for majors associated to classes with more male peers, with increased likelihood of same-major friendship formation being one plausible explanation.