Origins of the Gender Gap: Pre-College and College Influences on Differences Between Men and Women Linda J. Sax Casandra E. Harper University of California.
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Presentation on theme: "Origins of the Gender Gap: Pre-College and College Influences on Differences Between Men and Women Linda J. Sax Casandra E. Harper University of California."— Presentation transcript:
Origins of the Gender Gap: Pre-College and College Influences on Differences Between Men and Women Linda J. Sax Casandra E. Harper University of California Los Angeles
The Gender Gap Gender differences continue to receive attention Course taking Career aspirations Self-confidence Physical and psychological health
Nature vs. Nurture Longstanding debates regarding the origin of gender differences Innate differences? Gender-based socialization?
The Role of College Do colleges play a role in reinforcing gender differences? Prior research on college students offers few clues Most studies are descriptive, cross-sectional Roots of gender difference are largely unexplored
Research Question To what extent are gender differences observed at the end of college attributable to: (a) Pre-college gender differences? (b) Differential college experiences of women and men?
Sample Data drawn from: 1994 Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey 1998 College Student Survey (CSS) N = 17,637 (10,901 Women; 6,736 Men) 204 Institutions
42 Dependent Variables Student Typologies Academics Political Engagement and Orientation Views Self-Ratings Physical and Psychological Well-Being Goals Degree Aspirations/Attainment and Career Choice Self-Changes Satisfaction
Independent Variables Gender (1=male, 2=female) Pre-College Variables Pretest (if applicable) Family background High school experiences College Variables Institutional characteristics Peer measures Major field College experiences
Analysis (1) Gender force-entered at first step Indicates whether the difference in women’s & men’s score on the DV is significant at p<.0001 (2) Standardized regression coefficient (“Beta”) for gender monitored as each new independent variable enters the equation If Beta “change” is significant at p<.01, indicates whether gender differences on the outcome can be “explained” by gender differences in the newly-entered variable.
Results Significant gender differences observed for 32 of 42 dependent variables Women score higher on… College GPA, Feeling overwhelmed, Commitment to social activism, Liberal political attitudes, Interest in education and nursing, etc. Men score higher on… Academic self-confidence, Self-rated competitiveness, Physical and emotional self- confidence, Leadership orientation, Interest in science and engineering, Belief in traditional gender roles, etc.
What accounts for senior-year gender differences? 5 outcomes: Gender differences became nonsignificant when pre-college variables were controlled 9 outcomes: Gender differences became nonsignificant when pre-college AND college variables were controlled 18 outcomes: Gender differences remain significant past all controls
Example #1: Self-Rated Physical Health Women’s lower ratings on physical health explained by: Lower scores on the pretest Lower scores on self-rated emotional health Higher stress levels Less time spent exercising or playing sports
Example #2: College GPA Women’s higher grades explained (in part) by: Better grades earned in high school Higher stress levels Higher perceived support from faculty
Example #3: Leadership Orientation Men’s higher scores on leadership orientation explained (in part) by: Higher self-rated competitiveness Greater political engagement More frequently challenging professors in the classroom
Summary Among senior-year gender differences… Nearly half could be completely explained by other variables More than half could not be explained entirely by other variables Gender differences are typically explained by pre-college variables
Conclusion What other variables (not included in the present study) account for gender differences in college? Though colleges appear to play a minor role in producing gender differences, what role should they play in addressing them?