Although educational attainment gender gaps have reversed in most high-income countries and Latin America (Goldin, 2002; Goldin, Katz, & Kuziemko, 2006; Duryea, Galiani, Nop o, & Piras, 2007), a high degree of occupational segregation remains: men still dominate highly profitable fields like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) even when controlling for measured ability (Schneeweis & Zweimuller, 2012). Preferences in the field of study can be shaped by individuals' self-efficacy beliefs. This could be causing part of the STEM gender gap: holding performance constant, women have been found to be less confident about their own ability in math and science than men (Bordalo, Coﬀman, Gennaioli, & Shleifer, 2019). The hypothesis of this study is that increasing students' confidence in their ability can have effects on their college application and enrollment decisions and that this effect can be different for men than for women.
In the intervention used in this study (implemented by the Chilean Ministry of Education), top-performing students in STEM (math + science) and Humanities (language + history) tests were randomly assigned to get an encouragement message that congratulated them for their high scores and asked if they have considered STEM/Humanities majors. Students that excelled in the four tests received an encouraging message that congratulated them and mentions that with such high scores many options are available, without specifying a particular subject area. The experiment allows me to test how encouragement affects students' college enrollment decisions. By measuring gender differences in this effect, I will expand the literature that studies how students make their major choice, testing an intervention that can potentially improve enrollment. Furthermore, I will contribute to expanding the literature on women and STEM by proposing an intervention that could help close the STEM gap in college major choice.