Bridging the Gender Gap in Access to STEM through In-Exam Stress Management

Last registered on January 30, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Bridging the Gender Gap in Access to STEM through In-Exam Stress Management
Initial registration date
December 27, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 02, 2024, 10:57 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
January 30, 2024, 2:44 PM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


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Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial is based on or builds upon one or more prior RCTs.
Why women underperform relative to men in high-stakes exams while excelling under lower stakes remains a puzzle. Previous research suggests differential responses to pressure as an explanation. We evaluate the impact of a unique intervention assigning STEM program applicants in Uruguay to in-exam stress management exercises involving positive stress interpretation and a brief meditation. The 2023 intervention was implemented by Ceibal, the agency in charge of the program. In 2024, we partner with Ceibal to collect a new wave of data. We will evaluate the impact of the same intervention with the population of applicants to the program, who will be women only in 2024. The 2024 intervention contains three treatment arms, randomly assigned within the 4 versions of the online test that applicants take to be considered for admission. The treatment arms, including the order of the test subjects, are as follows: T1 (Stress reappraisal exercise, verbal, math, meditation, concentration, logic); T2 (Stress reappraisal exercise, math, verbal, meditation, concentration, logic), C (Verbal, math, concentration, logic). We collect a series of survey questions at the end of the test to shed light on mechanisms.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Franco, Catalina et al. 2024. "Bridging the Gender Gap in Access to STEM through In-Exam Stress Management." AEA RCT Registry. January 30.
Sponsors & Partners


Experimental Details


The intervention happens during the entrance exam to the coding program administered by Ceibal. The exam takes place online and registered applicants are assigned to one of four test versions that do not contain the same questions, but are equivalent in terms of difficulty. Within test version we randomly assign applicants into three groups: stress management (T1 and T2) and control. Before answering the exam questions, applicants assigned to the stress management conditions are instructed to read a paragraph and write about different interpretations of stress, with an emphasis on perceiving stress in a beneficial way before a performance (i.e., physiological manifestations of stress signify ''ready to perform''). Halfway through the exam, applicants are reminded of this positive stress interpretation and encouraged to take a brief 30-second meditation break. Applicants in the control group simply see the exam instructions and questions.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Indicator for being admitted into the program, overall performance, performance in each test subject, omitted questions.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Admission data are provided by Ceibal. We standardize the performance variables based on the mean and standard deviation of the control group.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Fraction of exam completed, indicator for whether applicant went overtime, indicator for enrolling in the program.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Fraction of exam completed is number of questions attempted over total number of questions. Going overtime is spending more than 180 minutes in the test.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Randomization is simple by assigning each applicant to one of 12 units (4 test versions x 3 treatment arms within version).
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done by Ceibal, in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization is the applicant (individual).
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Treatment is not clustered.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We expect between 2500 and 3000 applicants to take the entrance exam.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment is not clustered.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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