What accounts for this gender difference? The linked NYT article slants toward the conventional journalistic assumption that women are better than men, but if you wanted to take the same material and slant it the other way, you could say women are more likely to retreat in the face of adversity and going to school feels safe and comfortable to women.
The article quotes an economist who says: "The jobs out there just aren’t very good, and men seem more willing to take them for whatever reason... The women are looking at those same jobs and saying, 'I’ll be more productive elsewhere.'"
More "productive" spending money than making money? This is the old stereotype that women work for personal satisfaction, and yet it's still supposed to be a mystery that men make more money than women. In fact, the article has the line "Already earning lower pay, women are less willing to work when wages fall further...." That might be switching around the cause and effect. Do women drop out of the labor market because they earn less money, or do they earn less money because they tend not to keep plugging away when things get tough?
IN THE COMMENTS: John Althouse Cohen — referring to "the conventional journalistic assumption that women are better than men" — says:
And why has this become the conventional assumption? It's based on old-school, pre-feminism gender stereotypes of men being tough and strong, while women are fragile and weak. Those who follow these stereotypes will be more willing to criticize men than women, since men can "take it," while women would crumble upon hearing any criticism.