The experiment will start in the autumn of 2022 in Malmö, Sweden. It is planned to continue for 3 years and to be scaled up to the national level. We will recruit subjects from the final grades of elementary school (9th grade) and STEM track high schools (3rd grade). Elementary school students apply to high school tracks in February, and high school students apply to university in April. The intervention will take place in the months preceding these periods.
Participating classes will be randomly assigned to either one of nine treatments, or to control. Six out of nine treated classes will receive one hour visits from professionals working in STEM and acting as role models. They will hold a presentation about the returns to career choices and job satisfaction in both STEM and non-STEM occupations, and will share their personal experience on job tasks, work environment and math skills that they needed to use in their careers. Role models will address one (randomly chosen) category of gender stereotypical occupational beliefs about working in STEM. Classes assigned to the remaining treatment condition will receive the same presentation, not from a role model but from a study counselor, while classes who will be assigned to the control condition will not receive any presentation.
The 3 × 3 treatment conditions will vary based on the type of presenter (female role model, male role model, school teacher) and the category of gender stereotypical beliefs about STEM that is discussed. To accurately measure individual change in beliefs and preferences, students will fill in the same questionnaire before and after role models’ visit. The questionnaire will contain questions about attitudes linked to occupational tasks, gender stereotypical perceptions of STEM occupations, self assessment of mathematical ability, study motivation, salary expectations, and perceptions of the work environment in STEM occupations. A random subset of students expressing interest in receiving personal advice about their educational choices will have the opportunity to talk individually with a role model after their visit.