Gender, Genetics, and Educational Attainment

  • 11 Oct 2018

    11:00-12:30, Clay Room, Nuffield College

  • Sociology Seminar   Add to Calendar
Speaker: Professor Pamela Herd

Georgetown University (Sociology Visitor)

This event is part of the Sociology Seminar Series.

The development of a ‘polygenic score’ for educational attainment now allows a direct way to assess the interaction between genes and environment, especially as compared to classic twin and adoption studies.  One of the most fundamental social changes over the past 100 years has been shifting opportunities for women in education. Given the social and structural constraints that women faced during the 20thcentury in accessing higher education, were they less likely to see their genetic potential manifested into higher levels of educational attainment? We find that the correlation between the education polygenic score (EGPS) and educational attainment is stronger for men than for women, particularly in 1975 when participants were in their early 30s. However, as expectations and opportunities changed for women in the 1980s and 1990s, the strength of the association between the education polygenic score and women’s post secondary enrollment and attainment was stronger than were these associations for men. These findings illustrate the complexity of how social conditions influence the manifestation of 'genetic potential' into more complicated behavioral outcomes of concern to social scientists.  

The Sociology Seminar Series is convened by Richard Breen and Ridhi KashyapFor more information about this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact