Job Market Paper
"Gender, Grade Sensitivity, and Major Choice" Draft
It has been documented that the probability of women continuing their studies in or switching out of male-dominated fields --like STEM and business-- is more sensitive to their performance in relevant courses at the beginning of their college career relative to men. The reasons why women and men react differently to grades during college, and how this behavior impacts their major choices, are however not well understood. Using novel survey data with hypothetical major choice scenarios that exogenously vary different attributes, I estimate students' sensitivity to grades and find that women value an extra GPA point about $3,000 more than men. I find that anticipated discrimination in the labor market of male-dominated fields is important to understand this gender gap in grade sensitivity. I further provide evidence of the gender differences in beliefs about labor market discrimination in different fields. My results show that beliefs about gender discrimination in the labor market account for 48% of the gender gap in grade sensitivity. Understanding why talented women with the potential to succeed in male-dominated fields drop out because of less-than-stellar grades in an introductory class is important for closing the gender gap in these areas, improving the labor market outcomes of highly skilled women, and achieving an efficient allocation of resources across fields of study and occupations.
“The Impact of COVID-19 on Student Experiences and Expectations: Evidence from a Survey” (with Esteban Aucejo, Jacob French, and Basit Zafar). Journal of Public Economics, 2020
Press: The Chronicle of Higher Education, Market Watch, VoxEU
In order to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education, we surveyed approximately 1500 students at one of the largest public institutions in the United States using an instrument designed to recover the causal impact of the pandemic on students' current and expected outcomes. Results show large negative effects across many dimensions. Due to COVID-19: 13% of students have delayed graduation, 40% have lost a job, internship, or job offer, and 29% expect to earn less at age 35. Moreover, these effects have been highly heterogeneous. One-quarter of students increased their study time by more than 4 hours per week due to COVID-19, while another quarter decreased their study time by more than 5 hours per week. This heterogeneity often followed existing socioeconomic divides. Lower-income students are 55% more likely than their higher-income peers to have delayed graduation due to COVID-19. Finally, we show that the economic and health-related shocks induced by COVID-19 vary systematically by socioeconomic factors and constitute key mediators in explaining the large (and heterogeneous) effects of the pandemic.
"A (Dynamic) Investigation of Stereotypes, Belief-Updating, and Behavior" (with Katherine Coffman and Basit Zafar) Draft
Many decisions - such as what educational or career path to pursue - are dynamic in nature, with individuals receiving feedback at one point in time and making decisions later. Using a controlled experiment, with two sessions one week apart, we analyze the dynamic effects of feedback on beliefs about own performance and decision-making across two different domains (verbal skills and math). We find significant gender gaps in beliefs and choices before feedback: men are more optimistic about their performance and more willing to compete than women in both domains, but the gaps are significantly larger in math. Feedback significantly shifts individuals' beliefs and choices. Despite this, we see substantial persistence of gender gaps over time. This is particularly true among the set of individuals who receive negative feedback. We find that, holding fixed performance and decisions before feedback, women update their beliefs and choices more negatively than men do after bad news. Our results highlight the challenges involved in overcoming gender gaps in dynamic settings.
"Low Performance in Math and English: Do Women React Differently than Men?" Draft
Career advancement requires an individual to overcome setbacks at every stage in life. If women and men react to them differently, an early defeat might preclude a woman from advancing in a given area, which could be an explanation for women being under-represented in high-level positions. I study the gender difference in reaction to low performance by focusing on the decision of North Carolina public high school students to enroll in advanced math or English classes after learning about their performance on statewide standardized tests in each subject. I find that women react more strongly than men to low performance in math relative to English. Given the common association of men with math and women with English, the results suggest that the gender stereotype of the area in which a woman faces a difficulty might be relevant for her reaction.
Current Research Projects
"Understanding Socioeconomic Differences in College Outcomes" with Esteban Aucejo, Jacob French, and Basit Zafar