This paper investigates whether class composition can help explain why women are disproportionately more likely to fall out of the “STEM” pipeline. Identification comes from a standardized enrollment process at a large public university that essentially randomly assigns freshmen to different mandatory introductory chemistry lectures. Using administrative data, I find that women who are enrolled in a class with higher ability peers are less likely to graduate with a STEM degree, while men's STEM persistence is unaffected. The effect is largest for women in the bottom third of the ability distribution. I rule out that this is driven solely by grades.
- Classroom composition effects
- Higher education