Project: Government MinistryMinistry of Science and Technology

Project Details


STEM education leads the development of technology in the macro-level, and significantly impacts individual labor market outcomes in the micro-level. However, previous studies which mainly focus on the gender and racial differences in opportunities of STEM education rarely discuss the role of family/social class. This project aims to bring “family” into the theoretical context of field decision. Beyond previous studies in which family was just seen as a gatekeeper of gender believes, the research focus on how parents' occupation, parents' class, and sibship structure influence individual's decision on entering and completing STEM education. Moreover, the methodological debate of selection bias of the continual schooling transitions is introduced to deal with the underestimation of the effects of family background on curricular tracking as a later schooling transition. And this research investigates the mechanisms of the benefits of STEM education in the labor market. Three empirical analyses are included in this project. The findings show that the gender dynamics in the family influence individual’s decision on curricular tracking – individual’s gender will interact with gender environment in the family (sibship sex composition). Having sisters increases boys’ probability to choose the STEM education, while having brothers reduces girls’ probability to enter the STEM track. Previous studies focusing on the gender effects ignore the importance of the effects of family background on curricular tracking. After controlling the selection bias in the continual schooling transitions, family background, including parents’ year of schoolings, family structure, and sibship size, strongly influence the curricular tracking. It means that curricular tracking is not only the gender issue but the class issue. Finally, the advantages of the STEM education in the labor market result from the persistence in the STEM education rather than the credential effect. And there is no gender difference in the effects of the persistence in STEM education on the labor market outcomes. It suggests that once females entering and staying in the STEM training will earn as much earnings as males with the same training background. Thus, if we encourage girls who are interested in and have talents for the STEM education to staying in the STEM pipeline, the gender difference in earnings might be reduced. By understanding the cultivation and the labor market advantages of the STEM, this study attempts to deepen the class discourse on STEM education and provide solid empirical evidence for higher education policies and man power policies.
Effective start/end date2018/02/012020/07/31


  • STEM education
  • curricular tracking
  • field of study
  • labor market outcomes
  • gender difference


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