Presented by Silvia Griselda, The University of Melbourne


Does being assigned to a peer group that is strong in STEM affect your decision to specialize in STEM? In this paper, we exploit the random assignment of students to classes and peer groups within high schools and we construct measures of own and comparative advantage in STEM compared to non-STEM subjects.  We define one's own STEM advantage as the ratio of performance in STEM over non-STEM subjects. We measure comparative STEM advantage using within-peer group rankings of own STEM advantage. We then study the causal impacts of those advantages on their decision to specialize in a STEM track and their decision to enrol in a STEM degree at the university level for males and females.  We find that, controlling for their own STEM advantage, students assigned to classes in which they had the comparative advantage in STEM, are more likely to choose a STEM-related track in high school and enrol in a STEM degree at the university level. Females are strongly and significantly affected by their comparative advantage in STEM,  while it appears to be irrelevant for boys. Our results quantify the under-representation of qualified females in STEM-related fields. Our findings are consistent with the mechanism of ordinal performance affecting perceived confidence.

About the presenter’s visit

Silvia Griselda will be visiting the School of Economics from 2 - 6 December 2019.  While here she will be using room 509 Colin Clark Building.  If you would like to meet with her or have lunch or dinner with her please contact Dr Antonio Peyrache who will be her host while at The University of Queensland.  Dr Peyrache can be contacted on

About School Seminar Series

The School of Economics General Seminar Series is held on Fridays. These are in-person and presented by a range of guest researchers from around Australia and internationally.

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