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Gender differences in the choice of major: The importance of female role models
Last registered on April 10, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Gender differences in the choice of major: The importance of female role models
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002879
Initial registration date
April 09, 2018
Last updated
April 10, 2018 3:12 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Southern Methodist University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2015-03-15
End date
2017-05-19
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We report results from a novel field experiment aimed at increasing the percentage of women majoring in economics by exposing students enrolled in principles of economics classes to charismatic career women who majored in economics at the same university. We find that the role model intervention significantly increased female students' likelihood of planning to major in economics (self-reported) and enrolling in further economics classes (administrative data). The women that were impacted by the intervention were previously planning to major in lower-earning fields, suggesting that our low-cost intervention could have a significant impact on the treated women’s future income streams.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Serra, Danila. 2018. "Gender differences in the choice of major: The importance of female role models." AEA RCT Registry. April 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2879-1.0
Former Citation
Serra, Danila. 2018. "Gender differences in the choice of major: The importance of female role models." AEA RCT Registry. April 10. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2879/history/27929
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Students in "treated" principles of economics classes received visits by two charismatic career women that majored in economics at SMU. The role models were chosen from the roaster of economics alumni with the assistance of two female students who were majoring in economics at the time. The students shortlisted alumni and conducted scripted interviews with them. They chose the role models based on their interest in their field of work, as well as their communication skills and overall charisma. The two role models visited the treated classes separately, on different days.
Intervention Start Date
2016-03-15
Intervention End Date
2016-04-15
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The outcome variables are male and female students' self-reported desire to major in economics (as registered in a survey that we conducted at the end of the semester) and actual enrollment in intermediate microeconomics the academic year following the intervention.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We randomly chose 4 of 10 principles of economics classes that were offered in Spring 2016. The treated classes received visits by two charismatic career women that majored in economics at SMU. The role models were chosen from the roaster of economics alumni with the assistance of two female students who were majoring in economics at the time. Since the treatment classes were offered and taught by the same instructors the previous year, we are able to employ a difference-in-differences estimation strategy. The outcome variables are self-reported desire to major in economics (as registered in a survey that we conducted at the end of the semester) and actual enrollment in intermediate microeconomics the academic year following the intervention.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
We randomized at the class level. We stratified by class size, as there were 4 small classes (capped at 40 students) and 6 large classes (with over 100 students). Class sizes are determined by the department of economics and not by student demand. We stratified by class size in order to have comparable numbers of students in the treatment and control groups.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
10 clusters (classes) in Spring 2016. The number of clusters becomes 12 when considering the Spring 2015 and the Spring 2016 student cohorts and using a diff-in-diff estimation strategy. Nine classes remained unchanged between the two years, while 3 were different.
Sample size: planned number of observations
1310 students for the two study years.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
4 treatment classes (305 students) and 6 control classes (331 students) in the treatment (post) year. 4 treatment classes (341 students) and 7 control classes (336 students) in the control (pre) year.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
SMU IRB
IRB Approval Date
2015-04-23
IRB Approval Number
2015-­047-­SERD
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
April 15, 2016, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
May 17, 2017, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers