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The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? Prior Achievement Fails to Explain Gender Inequality in Entry Into STEM College Majors Over Time

Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Barbara King, Eric Grodsky and Chandra Muller
American Educational Research Journal
Vol. 49, No. 6 (December 2012), pp. 1048-1073
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23319638
Page Count: 26
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? Prior Achievement Fails to Explain Gender Inequality in Entry Into STEM College Majors Over Time
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Abstract

This article investigates the empirical basis for often-repeated arguments that gender differences in entrance into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors are largely explained by disparities in prior achievement. Analyses use data from three national cohorts of college matriculates across three decades to consider differences across several indicators of high school math and science achievement at the mean and also at the top of the test distribution. Analyses also examine the different comparative advantages men and women enjoy in math/science versus English/reading. Regardless of how prior achievement is measured, very little of the strong and persistent gender gap in physical science and engineering majors over time is explained. Findings highlight the limitations of theories focusing on gender differences in skills and suggest directions for future research.

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