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Did Too Many Smart Women Opt Out of Teaching?

I have long heard the argument that one reason for the decline in teacher quality in U.S. schools (if in fact there has been such a decline) was the feminist movement. The argument goes like this: until the mid-1960’s or so, teaching was one of the few career paths wide open to women; as feminism opened up opportunities for women in other fields, many bright women followed those opportunities; the remaining pool of female teachers since then is therefore of lesser quality.

Like I said, I had long heard that argument, but couldn’t find any research on the subject. But thanks to Richard Morin’s always-excellent “Unconventional Wisdom” WashPost column (2nd item), here’s a new paper by Marigee Bacolod at Cal-Irvine, making that very argument.

Bacolod’s solution? Raise teacher salaries, of course.

(HT: Becky Roser)

[ADDENDUM: When I wrote above that I “couldn’t find any research on the subject,” I should have also written “though I never tried very hard.” If I had, I would have run across at least this pair of papers by Sean Corcoran, William N. Evans, and Robert Schwab: “The Changing Quality of Teachers over the Past Four Decades” (from The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 23(3), Summer 2004, 449-470) and “Changing Labor Market Opportunities for Women and the Quality of Teachers 1957-2000” (from the American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, May 2004, 94(2), 23-235.)]