Do girls choose science when exposed to female science teachers?
Same-gender teachers may affect educational preferences by acting as role models for their students. I study the importance of the gender composition of teachers in mathematics and science in lower secondary schools on the likelihood of continuing on math-intensive tracks in the next levels of education. I use population wide register data from Sweden and control for family fixed effects to account for sorting into schools. According to my results, if the share of female science teachers is increased from none to all, there is, if at all, only a slight positive effect on the likelihood of girls completing a STEM track at upper secondary school, while the probability of completing a math-intensive degree at university increases by 26 percent. There is no positive impact on the performance of students by the higher share of female science teachers. As only the likelihood of choosing science is affected, these results suggest that the effects indeed arise because female teachers of these subjects serve as role models for female students. However, compared to earlier studies, the effects found are very modest.
Keywords: Role models, gender segregation, human capital, STEM
JEL-codes: J16, J24