Academic performance and career choices
We started to look at ESSEC Business School where the population is well balanced between female and male students. During the first year, students have to attend different courses in management (accounting, finance, marketing, law, etc.). This year, the compulsory course in finance, called Financial management, was attended by 214 female students (53%) and 189 male students (47%). The grading system for this course is composed of two individual exams; students may also increase their grade with bonuses based on a series of exercises done in groups of 3 students every week, two mini exams and the participation to the SimTrade experiment. The minimal grade to pass the course is 8/20 and the maximal grade is 20/20.
The study of students’ performance shows that both female and male students have similar success rates: 92.99% for female students and 90.48% for male students. However, female students perform better than male students on average: the average grade is 14.37/20 for female students and 13.28/20 for male student (a statistically significant difference). Female students perform also noticeably better than male students at the top (students with the maximal grade of 20/20): there are 32 female students and only 14 male students.
Although female students perform better male students in the classroom, there are less female students deciding to pursue their studies at ESSEC in finance. At ESSEC, courses for second and third year students are organized through tracks to propose a coherent cursus for students. Among the students of class 2015, who had already decided to do the Finance track, 21 were female students and 43 were male students.
Looking a few years ahead, the same difference is observed for the choice of career as 41 female former students and 76 male former students work in the financial sector after graduation (graduated classes 2013-2016).
To summarize, female students perform better than male students in the classroom but are less numerous to decide to continue to study finance and to embrace a career in finance.