The Consequences of Career Choice: Family and Income Disparities among Women in Science and Other Elite Professions

Anne McDaniel, Ohio State University
Claudia Buchmann, Ohio State University

Women now surpass men in college completion and women attain bachelor's and graduate degrees at rates that equal or exceed men’s. Despite this progress, sex segregation in fields of study persists. Men are more likely than women to major in science, particularly physical science and engineering, and data indicate that gender convergence among science majors is not likely in the near future. Explanations for the persisting shortfall of women in the physical sciences and engineering must account for broader trends in education and the consequences of women's major choice for their careers and family lives. Using data from the 1980 to 2000 Census and the 2005 American Community Survey we analyze trends over time in highly-educated women's occupational choices and the consequences of their choices in terms of marriage, fertility and earnings. Women’s career choices, especially in high-status, demanding occupations in the sciences, have consequences for all three outcomes.

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