Background: In this paper, we investigate the predictors for enrollment and success in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs in higher education. We develop a sequential logit model in which students enroll in STEM education, may drop out from STEM higher education, or continue studying until they graduate in an STEM field. We use rich Dutch register data on student characteristics and high school exam grades to explain the differences in enrollment, success, and dropout rates. Results: We find that females are less likely to enroll in STEM-related fields, while students with higher high school mathematics grades are more likely to enroll in STEM. Female students have lower first-year dropout rates at university of applied sciences STEM programs. With respect to study success, we find that conditional on enrollment in STEM, women are less likely to graduate than men within the nominal duration or the nominal duration plus one additional year. However, female students do perform equally well as male students in terms of graduation within 10 years. Conclusions: We conclude that STEM programs are less popular among female students and that female students are less likely to graduate on time. However, females perform equally well in STEM higher education in the long run. For this reason, policy should be geared at increasing study success in terms of nominal graduation rates among female STEM students.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the project “House of Skills”, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing under Grant Number KVW-00147.
© 2021, The Author(s).
- Higher education
- Register data
- Sequential logit model
- Study success