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"Brian Drain" or Diverse Preferences? Trends and Gender Gaps in Career Choices on Industries of STEM Master's Students in Japan

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Koki Matsumoto
Koki Matsumoto

Jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields play an important role in advancing our society. Nevertheless, little research has been done to examine the employment patterns of STEM students in Japan, though recent data shows that an increasing number of STEM master’s students are leaving academic careers. This study looks at the unexamined relationships between academic majors, gender, and the students’ job placements, using 15-year data on bachelor’s and master’s students in Japan. Results suggest the following trends. First, the finance, insurance, wholesale, and retail industries and a few of STEM-related industries have been the major landing spots for STEM master’s students. This could be the result of the mixture of the premiums paid to master’s graduates as initial salaries and student preferences to exercise their STEM skills and knowledge. Second, this pattern seems to hold true among some of the top academic performers. Third, female graduates are less likely than male counterparts to land onto the STEM-related industries, and this gender difference persists among STEM master’s students. Given the need to pay closer academic attention to the employment patterns of STEM-trained workforce, this study recommends the government of Japan to develop a system that allows researchers to design and conduct robust data analysis.



STEM education, higher education, student career, employment gender gap, Japan