Dismantling gender stereotypes about STEM careers among adolescents and their teachers: Experimental evidence from Peruvian schools

Last registered on January 31, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Dismantling gender stereotypes about STEM careers among adolescents and their teachers: Experimental evidence from Peruvian schools
Initial registration date
January 25, 2024

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 31, 2024, 11:43 AM EST

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


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Primary Investigator

Texas A&M University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Universidad de Piura
PI Affiliation
Virginia Tech University

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The gender gap in STEM careers, particularly in engineering, is wide and persistent. Youths and their parents tend to consider engineering as a predominantly male domain, contributing to the perpetuation of gender disparities. A number of recent studies have tried to dismantle these stereotypes by exposing high school students to role models and by providing information on desirable career prospects linked to the major. We add to this literature by conducting a role model-based information campaign, through a randomized controlled trial (RCT), targeting final year high school students in Peru. In contrast to previous studies, our program uses Instagram, a widely-used social platform among adolescents. Additionally, we address a crucial aspect of youths' study and career choices—the influence of teachers. In one treatment arm, we introduce an information program aimed at head teachers. This program comprises short videos featuring three local engineering professors (including two women), delivered to them via WhatsApp. By leveraging Instagram and engaging teachers, our interventions seek to challenge stereotypes and broaden the perspective of high school students regarding engineering as a viable and inclusive career option for women.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Agurto, Marcos , Sudipta Sarangi and Danila Serra. 2024. "Dismantling gender stereotypes about STEM careers among adolescents and their teachers: Experimental evidence from Peruvian schools." AEA RCT Registry. January 31. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.12871-1.0
Experimental Details


The study involves 73 high schools in Peru, randomly divided into two treatment groups (50 schools) and one control group (23 schools). We targeted all final year high school students, whom we first invited to complete an online baseline survey. Only the students who completed the baseline survey and for whom we obtained parental consent, were subsequently involved in the interventions. In both treatment groups, we implemented a role model campaign on Instagram. Specifically, we created an Instagram account and invited final year female students in the treatment schools (conditional on parental consent) to follow the account. These students were encouraged to engage with the content by liking a series of short videos posted on the account over a total of 6 weeks by female engineering college students. In half of the treatment schools (25 schools), we added an additional component: short videos were sent via WhatsApp to the head teachers of the students. These videos featured engineering professors discussing the gender imbalance within the engineering field and emphasizing the desirability of increased female representation in this domain. This dual approach aimed to leverage the reach of social media while also targeting key influencers, the head teachers, to reinforce the impact of the role model intervention.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We have three primary outcomes, measured at distinct times:
1) Immediate Outcome: Interest in the engineering major, measured through a survey administered immediately after the implementation of the programs.

2) Short-Term Outcome: The decision to apply for a small college scholarship, which we offered, with eligibility limited to students intending to enroll in engineering the following year. This outcome serves as a short-term indicator of the impact of the interventions on students' intentions and aspirations.

3) Longer-Term Outcome: The decision to enroll in college with the aim of studying engineering, measured through administrative data in summer 2024, when the students will be enrolled in college. We aim to follow up the students also in summer 2025, to record possible changes in college major.

We will test the impact of the interventions on the three outcomes above. We will also conduct heterogeneity analysis by student school performance, as we expect the impact to be larger among top performing (in math) female students.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Teacher's perceptions and stereotypes (conditional on a teacher survey being conducted in 2024 - TBC).
Girls' confidence in their math ability and perceptions of support from teachers and family.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We invited students in the sampled school to participate in an online survey in July-August 2023. The survey outreach was done with the collaboration of principals and head teachers. Given that the majority of students are minors, survey participation required parental consent. The survey also asked for parental consent to share a unique student ID, which will allow us to link survey data to college enrollment administrative data in the future. In the treatment schools (both T1 and T2), we subsequently (in September-October 2023) invited the girls in the study sample to follow a private Instagram account that we created, and that showcased female students in engineering (our role models) sharing short videos about their experiences and their usual days in college. A total of 9 videos were shared over 6 weeks; after that, no more videos were posted but the account remained online, with the the videos still visible to account followers. In the T2 schools, in addition to the Instagram intervention, we shared with all the 5th year head teachers, who are referred to as "tutors" in Peru, three short videos via WhatsApp messaging. The videos displayed three engineering university professor talking about the gender disparity in the major. The professors encouraged teachers to actively contribute to reducing the gender imbalance by challenging and dismantling the gender stereotypes associated with the engineering major.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
School-level randomization: 23 schools randomized into Control, 25 into the “Instagram intervention (T1)” and 25 into the “Instagram intervention plus Teacher intervention (T2)”

Only female students who participated in the baseline survey and for whom we received parental consent were involved in the Instagram intervention. All head teachers in the T2 schools were sent the information videos through WhatsApp messages.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
We initially aimed to involve 100 schools in the study, but ultimately obtained principals' permission for a total of 73 schools.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We invited all final year students to participate in the baseline online survey, conditional on parental consent. A total of 780 students filled in the survey and had parents' consent to participate in the study, with 542 of them being women. We believe that this represents approximately 15 percent of the female graduating class from the sampled high schools.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
25 control schools, 25 Instagram schools and 25 Instagram+Teacher schools.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Instituto de Estudios Peruanos
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
R.004 – Instituto de Estudios Peruanos