The Gendered Cost of a Career Decision: A Study of Gender Differences in the Transition to Work of PhD Graduates in Italy

Olga Gorodetskaya , University of Trento
Enrico Rettore, University of Trento
Stefani Scherer, University of Trento
Moris Triventi, University of Trento

In this paper we propose an empirical model to assess the causal relationships between scientific productivity, professional opportunities and fertility choices, with an emphasis on how those relationships differ across genders. We exploit the cross-sectional data from six educational cohorts of individuals who obtain their doctoral degree in Italian universities from 2004 to 2014. The PhD holders have been surveyed 4-6 years after their graduation, collecting basic information on their occupational outcomes and social demographic characteristics. Our preliminary results show that in spite of relative homogeneity in terms of educational background women persistently are less likely than men to follow an academic path, the gap in favor of men being slightly more pronounced among those PhD holders who already have children at the time of the interview. With respect to the number of publications we also document that on average women are less productive than their male colleagues, the gender gap persisting across all the cohorts we consider. In turn we discovered that the academic occupation bears a positive causal effect on the research productivity and its effect is more pronounced for men than for women. So the PhD holders in Academia have higher productivity than those who go out of university career. Our causal claim is based on the evidence that male and female PhD holders are relatively similar in terms of educational outcomes – i.e. when they complete their PhD course – implying that there is no systematic difference across genders by the time they enter the Academia.

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 Presented in Session 37. Gender Perspectives. Session dedicated to the memory of Antonella Pinnelli