Gender Wage Gap in STEM Fields in Germany

Friday, 20 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Laura ZAPFE, Julius-Maximilians Universität Würzburg, Germany
Girls are being recruited to the STEM sector (science, technology, engineering, math) in order to compensate for the skills shortage in that area. At the same time, the STEM fields are considered to be very profitable compared to other subjects. However, the STEM fields also suffer from the gender wage gap (GWG). Among academics, the GWG is mainly driven by the gender-specific choice of field. Most studies compare the GWG in the STEM fields with those in all other fields. By doing so, they ignore the large heterogeneity within the STEM fields e.g. regarding the share of women. These differences have not been taken into account in previous studies. So how can we explain the GWG in the STEM fields? I use socialization theory to illustrate a gender-specific evaluation of individual STEM subjects. In addition, I use Human Capital Theory to highlight gender-specific differences between women and men in work experience and in gender-specific parental leave duration. Furthermore, I apply gender-status beliefs theory and the theory of statistical discrimination to argue that there are gender-specific differences in employment characteristics. To test the hypotheses derived from these theoretical approaches, I analyze data from the graduate panel (2001) of the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW). I perform an Oaxaca-Blinder-decomposition to check which variables have an influence on the GWG in the STEM fields. The results show that the choice of STEM field can explain the highest percentage of the GWG, followed by the work experience and the gender-specific parental leave duration. There is a political need for action in relation to the GWG in order to reduce the gender-specific behavior that leads to a gender-specific choice of STEM fields and to promote family-friendly working conditions in the STEM sector.