A Study of Gender Differences in Career Choice in STEM Disciplines: The Case of Chilean Students

Cristian Saavedra-Acuna, Monica Quezada-Espinoza

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Historically, women's participation worldwide in STEM disciplines has been lower than men's participation. Related literature recognizes that the engineering area is one of the most segregated occupations gender-wise. According to the OECD, the percentage of women who enroll in their first year in STEM disciplines does not exceed 19.8%. In Chile, the number of students who pursue a tertiary education diploma or degree has been increasing steadily in recent years; this is due to the strengthening of the Chilean educational ecosystem incorporating various modalities of schools and study programs. Despite the above, Chilean women's participation in STEM areas is not higher than the previously mentioned average. Our main objective is to analyze trends on this topic for Chilean students based on the following variables: type of institution, school shift and modality, age of students, and career type. We made a percentage analysis to investigate trends over time about students' gender within the variables: (1) type of institution (Community College, Professional Institute, and University); (2) school shift and modality (daytime face-to-face class, evening face-to-face class, and online class); (3) age of students; and (4) type of career (first or second career). We analyzed the responses given by n = 3,208,211 students entering the first year of higher education (registered data from 2008 to 2020). According to the results obtained, we assume that participation in women's careers in STEM disciplines has been gradually increasing. However, we find that the differences between males and females who hold a university career remain constant over time. Results suggest that further study is needed to investigate the predictors and correlates of students' career choices qualitative measures to support and more clearly interpret the numerical findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33780
Number of pages17
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 26 Jul 202129 Jul 2021


  • Career choice
  • Gender differences
  • STEM disciplines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Gender Studies


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