In the complicated (and turbulent) education policy world, policymakers continue to fret over "gendered" outcomes, particularly, of late, in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) context. While such a topic is admittedly layered, research design issues typically frustrate studies of American schools. In Do Single-Sex Schools Enhance Students’ Stem (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Outcomes?, Hyunjoon Park (Penn-Sociology), Jere Behrman (Penn-Econ.), and Jaesung Choi (Penn-Econ.) exploit a unique data set from Korea where students are randomly assigned to either co-ed or single-gender high schools. Also interesting are the study's asymmetric findings. The paper's abstract follows.
"Despite women’s significant improvement in educational attainment, underrepresentation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) college majors persists in most countries. We address whether one particular institution – single-sex schools – may enhance female – or male – students’ STEM careers. Exploiting the unique setting in Korea where assignment to all-girls, all-boys or coeducational high schools is random, we move beyond associations to assess causal effects of single-sex schools. We use administrative data on national college entrance mathematics examination scores and a longitudinal survey of high school seniors that provide various STEM outcomes (mathematics and science interest and selfefficacy, expectations of a four-year college attendance and a STEM college major during the high school senior year, and actual attendance at a four-year college and choice of a STEM major two years after high school). We find significantly positive effects of all-boys schools consistently across different STEM outcomes, whereas the positive effect of all-girls schools is only found for mathematics scores."