Why Are Some Academic Fields Tipping towards Female?

Paula S. England, Northwestern University
Paul Allison, University of Pennsylvania
Su Li, Northwestern University
Michelle Budig, University of Massachusetts

Using data on the number of men and women receiving doctorates in all fields from 1971 to 1998, we examine changes in the sex composition of fields and segregation (using D, size-standardized D, and Grusky's A). Women's proportion of those receiving doctorate degrees increased from 14% to 42%. All fields, including the most male-intensive fields, experienced an increase in their percent female, but the rank-order of fields in percent female changed little. We consider whether men avoid entering fields after they reach a certain percent female. We use a negative binomial regression model with fixed effects. The higher the percent female of those getting degrees in a field, the smaller the number of men that enter the field 4-7 years later. The pattern resembles Schelling's (1971, 1978) model of neighborhood tipping. Men's avoidance of women impedes reaching an integrated equilibrium, despite the movement of women toward slightly more non-traditional choices.

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Presented in Session 68: Determinants and Consequences of Educational Attainment