- Male students select higher paying majors than female students, even when both sexes report wanting to pursue a major with the highest potential earnings.
- The research team says that this might be due in part to women feeling that certain fields, like STEM, are not open or accessible to them.
- To reach these findings, researchers analyzed data from the Pathways through College Study, which surveyed 2,720 students from three different institutions.
- These students answered questions about how important several factors were to choosing their major: earnings, career options, engaging classes, and helping others.
- It was revealed that the majors male students chose were associated with much higher earnings than the majors female students chose, despite their major preferences.
- Researchers say that women who are motivated to make a lot of money choose career paths that have high potential earnings but are also open and accessible to women.
A new study from Ohio State University “From Major Preferences to Major Choices: Gender and Logics of Major Choice” says that male students select higher paying majors than female students, even when both sexes report wanting to pursue a major with the highest potential earnings. The researchers say that this may be due in part to female students feeling like certain fields or careers are not open or accessible to women.
The research team analyzed data from the Pathways through College Study, which surveyed 2,720 students from three different elite institutions. These students answered questions during their first semester about how important several factors were to their choosing a major:
- The amount of money earned
- Having plenty of career options
- Engaging or appealing classes
- Role of helping others
The students later revealed which major they chose. Additionally, the researchers used state data to analyze the average earnings for each major.
The researchers found that the majors male students chose were associated with a much higher earnings than the majors female students chose, despite their major preferences. The team found that even when the male and female students prioritized high earnings when deciding on a major, the male students still chose majors that paid more. Additionally, even when both sexes prioritized other factors like helping others, male students still chose higher-paying majors.
Researchers say that studies have shown men and women have different ideas about what types of jobs are available to them. For example, careers rooted in engineering, science, or technology, may not be (or appear) as accessible to female students, and so they adapt and choose a different major instead.
In conclusion, the researchers believe that women who are motivated to make a lot of money choose career paths that have high potential earnings but are also open and accessible to women. They add that piquing female interest in STEM might not cause them to choose a career in STEM—instead, they need to feel that they are welcome in this field.
Quadlin, N. (2019, November 9). From Major Preferences to Major Choices: Gender and Logics of Major Choice. Sage Journals. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0038040719887971
Ohio State University. (2019, November 25). Why women select college majors with lower earnings potential: The ‘logics of major choice’ is different for women and men. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191125135151.htm
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