College students often seek career advice from their social and professional networks, and the information that students receive may shape their perceptions of careers and infuence their decision making. As of yet, there is little evidence on whether male and female students have access to the same information about careers. In our paper, we investigate whether student gender changes the information that students receive regarding various career paths.
We conducted a large-scale feld experiment, in which college students who were interested in learning about various careers sent messages to 10,000 working professionals on a popular online professional networking platform. The questions were preformulated requests for basic information about the professional’s career path. To test whether student gender afects the information students receive about careers, we randomized whether a professional received a message from a male or a female student. We focus our analysis on two career attributes that prior research has shown to differentially affect the labor market choices of women: work/life balance and workplace culture.
Our main fnding is that student gender afects the information that professionals provide. When students ask a broad question about the pros and cons of the professional’s career path, professionals are more than twice as likely to bring up work/life balance issues to female students than they are to male students. One explanation for this greater emphasis on work/ life balance issues to female students is that professionals believe female students care more about this career attribute than male students do. We found, however, that even when students pose a question asking specifcally whether work/life balance is a concern, professionals are still 28 percent more likely to respond to female students.
In contrast, professionals bring up workplace culture issues to male and female students at equal rates.
Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that gender gaps in access to career information may matter for career choices. Information provided relating to work/life balance tends to be negative and increases students’ concern about the issue. At the end of the study, we fnd that female students are more deterred from their preferred career path than male students, and
this gender gap is partly explained by professionals’ greater emphasis on work/life balance issues to female students.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Employment Research, Vol. 28, No. 3, July 2021 – Informed Choices Gender Gaps in Career Advice