Getting Ahead While Falling Behind: Gender and Behavioral Skill in the Labor Market Pipeline
Date: October 8, 2012
Time: 12:15 PM - 1:30 PM
Location: 165 Wallace Hall
Please feel free to bring a lunch.
Research has documented the structural and psychological processes that produce gender inequality in the labor market. My dissertation adds a new dimension. It shows how gender inequality also persists as a function of behavioral processes. Specifically, I expose and probe a fascinating puzzle: today’s young women experience an advantage over men in educational attainment – they graduate from high school and college at higher rates than today’s young men. But, they continue to earn less than today’s young men and to sort into occupations that offer less flexibility in their early careers. It therefore is unclear whether these behavioral and educational advantages help close the earnings gap. To address this question, I first examine whether females' behavioral advantage helps to explain females' recently-emergent advantage in educational attainment. I then investigate whether these behavioral and educational advantages translate into as high of returns for women as for men in the labor market. I find that, in addition to the widely-cited labor market explanations for females' higher levels of educational attainment, females’ behavioral advantage also plays an important but often overlooked role. Furthermore, although girls have long developed better self-regulation and social skills early in life compared to boys, girls’ behavioral advantage has grown across cohorts. This growing female behavioral advantage predicts an even larger gender gap in educational attainment in the coming decades. However, in part due to the internalization of gendered social expectations, females’ behavioral skills and educational attainment have not translated into as high of premiums for females as for males in the labor market. This research reveals how behavioral processes – in addition to structural and psychological ones – operate as another mechanism of gender inequality.