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Can female role models reduce the gender gap in science? Evidence from classroom interventions in French high schools

Author

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  • Thomas Breda

    (PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics)

  • Julien Grenet

    () (PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics)

  • Marion Monnet

    (PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics)

  • Clémentine van Effenterre

    (Harvard Kennedy School - Harvard Kennedy School)

Abstract

This paper reports the results of a large scale randomized experiment that was de- signed to assess whether a short in-class intervention by an external female role model can influence students' attitudes towards science and contribute to a significant change in their choice of field of study. The intervention consists in a one hour, one off visit of a high school classroom by a volunteer female scientist. It is targeted to change students' perceptions and attitudes towards scientific careers and the role of women in science, with the aim of ultimately reducing the gender gap in scientific studies. Using a random as- signment of the interventions to 10th and 12th grade classrooms during normal teaching hours, we find that exposure to female role models significantly reduces the prevalence of stereotypes associated with jobs in science, for both female and male students. While we find no significant effect of the classroom interventions on 10th grade students' choice of high school track the following year, our results show a positive and significant impact of the intervention on the probability of applying and of being admitted to a selective science major in college among 12th grade students. This effect is essentially driven by high-achieving students and is larger for girls in relative terms. After the intervention, their probability to be enrolled in selective science programs after graduating from high school increases by 30 percent with respect to the baseline mean.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Breda & Julien Grenet & Marion Monnet & Clémentine van Effenterre, 2018. "Can female role models reduce the gender gap in science? Evidence from classroom interventions in French high schools," PSE Working Papers halshs-01713068, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-01713068
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01713068
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    File URL: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01713068/document
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Breda, Thomas & Hillion, Melina, 2016. "Teaching Accreditation Exams Reveal Grading Biases Favor Women in Male-Dominated Disciplines in France," IZA Discussion Papers 10079, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Sander Hoogendoorn & Hessel Oosterbeek & Mirjam van Praag, 2013. "The Impact of Gender Diversity on the Performance of Business Teams: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(7), pages 1514-1528, July.
    3. Donna S. Rothstein, 1995. "Do Female Faculty Influence Female Students' Educational and Labor Market Attainments?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(3), pages 515-530, April.
    4. Josh Kinsler & Ronni Pavan, 2015. "The Specificity of General Human Capital: Evidence from College Major Choice," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(4), pages 933-972.
    5. Thomas Breda & Son Thierry Ly, 2015. "Professors in Core Science Fields Are Not Always Biased against Women: Evidence from France," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 53-75, October.
    6. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101.
    7. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
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    11. Kirkebøen, Lars & Leuven, Edwin & Mogstad, Magne, 2014. "Field of Study, Earnings, and Self-Selection," Memorandum 29/2014, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    12. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2005. "Do Faculty Serve as Role Models? The Impact of Instructor Gender on Female Students," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 152-157, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Canaan, Serena & Mouganie, Pierre, 2019. "Female Science Advisors and the STEM Gender Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 12415, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Carlana, Michela, 2018. "Implicit Stereotypes: Evidence from Teachers' Gender Bias," IZA Discussion Papers 11659, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Isphording, Ingo E. & Qendrai, Pamela, 2019. "Gender Differences in Student Dropout in STEM," IZA Research Reports 87, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Track choice; Stereotypes; Role models; gender; Science;

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