Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 18/2019: Can Female Doctors Cure the Gender STEMM Gap? Evidence from Randomly Assigned General Practitioners

Julie Riise (), Barton Willage () and Alexander Willen ()
Additional contact information
Julie Riise: Department of Economics, University of Bergen
Barton Willage: Department of Economics, Louisiana State University
Alexander Willen: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH, Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway

Abstract: We use random assignment of general practitioners (GPs) to provide the first evidence on the effects of female role models in childhood on the long-run educational outcomes of girls. We find that girls who are exposed to female GPs in childhood are significantly more likely to sort into traditionally male-dominated education programs in high school, most notably STEMM. These effects persist as females enter college and select majors. We also find strong positive effects on educational performance throughout their academic careers, suggesting that female role models in childhood improve education matches of girls. The effects we identify are significantly larger for high-ability girls with low educated parents, suggesting that female role models may improve intergenerational mobility and narrow the gifted gap for disadvantaged girls.

Keywords: Role Models; STEMM; Gender Gap

JEL-codes: I20; I24; J24

47 pages, October 9, 2019

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