Why Are Most University Students Women? Evidence Based on Academic Performance, Study Habits and Parental Influences - ARCHIVED
Articles and reports: 11F0019M2007303
In this study, we use new Canadian data containing detailed information on standardized test scores, school marks, parental and peer influences, and other socio-economic background characteristics of boys and girls to try to account for the large gender gap in university attendance. Among 19-year-old youth in 2003, 38.8% of girls had attended university, compared with only 25.7% of boys. However, young men and women were about equally likely to attend college. We find that differences in observable characteristics between boys and girls account for more than three quarters (76.8%) of the gap in university participation. In order of importance, the main factors are differences in school marks at age 15, standardized test scores in reading at age 15, study habits, parental expectations and the university earnings premium relative to high school. Altogether, the four measures of academic abilities used in the study "overall marks, performance on standardized reading tests, study habits and repeating grade" collectively account for 58.9% of the gender gap in university participation. These results suggest that understanding why girls outperform boys in the classroom may be a key to understanding the gender divide in university participation.
Main Product: Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series