Study Examines the Gender Gap in Career Advice Given to College Students

A working paper by women scholars at the University of Chicago and the University of California, Los Angeles, finds that women college students regularly receive different messages from career counselors than their male counterparts — ones that often emphasize the importance of work-life balance, and potentially dissuade women from pursuing their intended career paths.

The authors examined the results of a large-scale field experiment where undergraduate students sent online messages to 10,000 working professionals. They then examined whether gender influenced the type of information a student received.

“When students seek general information from business professionals about particular careers, female students receive substantially more unprompted information on work-life balance than male students,” explained Yana Gallen, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and an expert on the gender pay gap. “In fact, professionals are more than two times as likely to provide information on work-life balance issues to women.”

When students asked specifically about work-life balance, female students received 28 percent more responses on the topic than male students. This suggests that the increased emphasis on work-life balance in responses to female students is not solely driven by the belief that women are interested in this issue and men are not, but also by the professionals’ differing willingness to engage with male versus female students on the topic.

Dr. Yallen joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 2016. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she majored in mathematics. Dr. Yallen earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

The working paper, “Informed Choices: Gender Gaps in Career Advice,” was co-authored by Melanie Wasserman, an assistant professor of economics at UCLA. The paper may be found here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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