Siwei Cheng: Decoding the coding gap: The rise of programming-intensive occupations and the stalled gender revolution


Thursday, February 22, 2018, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies 9 Bow Street

Social Demography Seminar (SDS) presentaion by Siwei Cheng, PhD,  assistant professor of sociology, New York University.

Abstract: Despite remarkable progress towards gender equality over the past half-century, the stalled convergence in the gender wage gap after the mid-1990s remains a puzzle in current literature. This study provides new insights into this puzzle by investigating the uneven impact of recent technological change — namely, the rise of programming-intensive occupations — for men and women since the mid-1990s. We argue that, unlike the spread of general computer usage in the previous period that has favored women’s jobs, the increasing reliance on programming tasks in the post-mid-1990s labor market has favored men’s economic position relative to women’s, and therefore may help explain the slow convergence of the gender wage gap. Specifically, we differentiate between two effects: (1) the composition effect, which happens when men experience a greater employment growth in high-paying, programming-intensive occupations relative to women; and (2) the price effect, which happens when the wage returns to programming intensity increase more for men than for women. Our empirical analysis documents a strong relationship between the rise of programming-intensive occupations and the slow convergence of the gender wage gap for both college graduates and those without a college degree. Counterfactual decompositions indicate that the total and relative contributions of the composition and price effects vary by college completion. These findings call attention to the role recent technological change plays in perpetuating long-standing gender inequality.