Explaining the gender wage gap in STEM: Does field sex composition matter?

Katherine Michelmore, Sharon Sassler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Using the National Science Foundation's SESTAT data, we examine the gender wage gap by race among those working in computer science, life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. We find that in fields with a greater representation of women (the life and physical sciences), the gender wage gap can largely be explained by differences in observed characteristics between men and women working in those fields. In the fields with the lowest concentration of women (computer science and engineering), gender wage gaps persist even after controlling for observed characteristics. In assessing how this gap changes over time, we find evidence of a narrowing for more recent cohorts of college graduates in the life sciences and engineering. The computer sciences and physical sciences, however, show no clear pattern in the gap across cohorts of graduates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-215
Number of pages22
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2016


  • Gender wage gap
  • Scientists and engineers
  • Women in STEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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