Volume 35 - Article 31 | Pages 929–960  

Gendered transitions to adulthood by college field of study in the United States

By Siqi Han, Dmitry Tumin, Zhenchao Qian

Abstract

Background: Field of study may influence the timing of transitions to the labor market, marriage, and parenthood among college graduates. Research to date has yet to study how field of study is associated with the interweaving of these transitions in the USA.

Objective: The current study examines gendered influences of college field of study on transitions to a series of adult roles, including full-time work, marriage, and parenthood.

Methods: We use Cox proportional hazards models and multinomial logistic regression to examine gendered associations between field of study and the three transitions among college graduates of the NLSY97 (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth) cohort.

Results: Men majoring in STEM achieve early transitions to full-time work, marriage, and parenthood; women majoring in STEM show no significant advantage in finding full-time work and delayed marriage and childbearing; women in business have earlier transitions to full-time work and marriage than women in other fields, demonstrating an advantage similar to that of men in STEM.

Conclusions: The contrast between men and women in STEM shows that transition to adulthood remains gendered; the contrast between women in STEM and women in business illustrates that a prestigious career may not necessarily delay family formation.

Contribution: The paper shows how stratification by field of study creates gendered demographic outcomes for college graduates. It also demonstrates that women’s decisions regarding marriage and parenthood do not uniformly respond to the economic prospect of their work.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Unrealized fertility: Fertility desires at the end of the reproductive career
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The gender divide in urban China: Singlehood and assortative mating by age and education
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