Causal Effects of Single-Sex Schools on Students’ STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Outcomes by Gender and Parental SES

Hyunjoon Park, University of Pennsylvania
Jere Behrman, University of Pennsylvania
Jaesung Choi, University of Pennsylvania

Despite women’s significant improvement of educational attainment, underrepresentation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) college majors persists in many countries. We address whether one particular institution – single-sex schools – may enhance female – or male - students’ STEM careers. Exploiting the unique setting in Korea where assignment to all-girls, all-boys or coeducational high schools is random, we move beyond associations to assess causal effects of single-sex schools. Besides average effects, we examine whether students differentially benefit from single-sex schools, depending on parental SES. With a longitudinal survey that followed up high school seniors over two years after high school, we find significant causal effects of all-boys schools, but not all-girls schools, consistently across different STEM outcomes – seniors’ interest and self-efficacy in math and science, expectations of four-year college attendance and STEM college majors, and their actual transitions to four-year colleges and choices of STEM majors.

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Presented in Session 120: Gender Inequality in Educational and Labor Force Outcomes