Gender Pay Gap has Roots in School Years, When Girls Opt Out of Stem Subjects

  • 2016-04-12
  • The Guardian

Women’s underrepresentation in high-paying jobs in engineering and information technology reflects earlier patterns in high school and contributes substantially to the gender wage gap, a University of Melbourne report has found.

The report also found untrue the idea that women don’t choose Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in high school because they are not as good at numeracy.

Researchers followed 58,000 Victorian seventh-grade students in 2008 and examined their choice of Stem subjects in the final years of secondary school in 2013.

They found by the final year of school there were large majorities of male students in physics, information technology and specialist mathematics, and large majorities of females in life sciences and health and human development.

But an author of the paper, Dr Susan Méndez from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, said the researchers found that among boys and girls who scored exactly the same in numeracy results in their early years of high schooling, the boys were much more likely to choose Stem subjects for their final school years.