August 2015

IZA DP No. 9277: High School Experiences, the Gender Wage Gap, and the Selection of Occupation

published in: Applied Economics, 2017, 49 (49), 5040-5049

Using within-high-school variation and controlling for a measure of cognitive ability, this paper finds that high-school leadership experiences explain a significant portion of the residual gender wage gap and selection into management occupations. Our results imply that high-school leadership could build non-cognitive, productive skills that are rewarded years later in the labor market and that explain a portion of the systematic difference in pay between men and women. Alternatively, high-school leadership could be a proxy variable for personality characteristics that differ between men and women and that drive higher pay and becoming a manager. Because high school leadership experiences are exogenous to direct labor market experiences, our results leave less room for direct labor market discrimination as a driver of the gender wage gap and occupation selection.