The rise of programming and the stalled gender revolution

Siwei Cheng, Bhumika Chauhan, Swati Chintala

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Despite remarkable progress toward gender equality over the past half-century, the stalled convergence in the gender wage gap after the mid-1990s remains a puzzle. This study provides new insights into this puzzle by conducting the first large-scale investigation of the uneven impact of the rise of programming in the labor market for men and women since the mid-1990s. We argue that the increasing reliance on programming has favored men's economic status relative to women's and therefore may help explain the slow convergence of the gender wage gap. We differentiate between two effects: (1) the composition effect, wherein men experience a greater employment growth in programming-intensive occupations relative to women, and (2) the price effect, wherein the wage returns to programming intensity increase more for men than women. Our empirical analysis documents a strong relationship between the rise of programming and the slow convergence of the gender wage gap among college graduates. Counterfactual simulations indicate that the absence of the composition and price effects would have reduced the gender wage gap over the past two decades by an additional 14.70 percent. These findings call attention to the role gender institutions play in shaping the uneven labor market impact of technological change.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)321-351
    Number of pages31
    JournalSociological Science
    StatePublished - 2019


    • Computerization
    • Gender inequality
    • Labor market
    • Technological change

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Social Sciences


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