Lean In or Lean Back: Does Higher Education Empower Women?



ShanghaiTech SEM Working Paper No. 2019-006

Wei Si 

ShanghaiTech University  

Empowering women and closing the gender gap are key issues for economic and social development. This paper explores whether and how higher education can empower women. Taking advantage of China's higher education expansion in the late 1990s, I examine the impact of higher education on increasing women's educational attainment, reducing gender stereotyping, promoting women in the labor market, and changing outcomes in the marriage market. The results show that the reform significantly increased higher educational attainment for both women and men. However, gender ideology became more traditional, especially for women. The regressive gender attitudes could be attributed to the findings that women's opportunities in both the labor market and marriage market became more disadvantaged compared to men after the expansion.

Keywords: Higher education expansion, Gender norms, Gender inequality, Labor market, Marriage market

Date Written: December 6, 2019

Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3499450

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