Degrees of Difference: Gender Segregation of Doctorates by Field and Institutional Prestige in the U.S.

Kim Weeden, Cornell University
Sarah Thebaud, Princeton University
Dafna Gelbgiser, Cornell University

This paper reorients the literature on gender in higher education away from its current obsession with field of study (the “women in STEM” question) and toward a more nuanced understanding of gender segregation. It argues that men and women are segregated by the status of the institutions from which they receive doctoral degrees as well as by field. Institutional segregation may occur because men and women apply to, and matriculate at, different kinds of schools or because institution's admissions decisions differ according to their prestige. Using IPEDS data on doctorates awarded by field, institution, and gender, it shows that segregation across institutions and institutional prestige groups is substantial. The paper applies a series of log-linear and log-multiplicative models to identify patterns of segregation by institutional prestige, and evaluates these patterns against predictions drawn from the social psychological literature on status-based gender bias and the economic sociology literature on organizational status.

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