Group Gender Composition and Women’s Authority in Work Teams: A Field Experiment

Last registered on February 07, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Group Gender Composition and Women’s Authority in Work Teams: A Field Experiment
Initial registration date
January 31, 2020

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
February 07, 2020, 3:51 PM EST

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



Primary Investigator

Brigham Young University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Brigham Young University
PI Affiliation
Emory University
PI Affiliation
Brigham Young University

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Scholars have found that the demographic composition of teams influences their internal dynamics and individual team member behavior. In particular, when women are in the minority, they have difficulty exerting leadership and being perceived as competent and influential. We designed a field experiment to test whether gender composition affects individual and group-level outcomes and whether holding a formal leadership role can counteract the challenges women face in environments where they are underrepresented. Over the course of this field experiment, a total of 417 individuals were randomly assigned to study groups with varied treatment conditions. The gender composition of student study groups was randomly varied according to the ratio of male to female students enrolled in the course, resulting in 23 groups with 2 females and 4 males, 20 groups of 4 females and 2 males, and 25 all-female groups. The gender of the randomly assigned group leader was also randomly varied. Groups meet weekly to work on deliberative, team-based tasks and meetings are audio-recorded. Further data on students’ weekly assignments and communications with each other was collected through a group messaging app. Students also self-reported their group experience and evaluated other group members’ contributions in monthly surveys.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Karpowitz, Christopher et al. 2020. "Group Gender Composition and Women’s Authority in Work Teams: A Field Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. February 07.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Individual-level monthly survey responses (including peer evaluations of group members and evaluations of group dynamics)
2. Outcomes resulting from the transcripts of weekly audio recordings of group meetings, including the proportion of talk time attributed to each group member, number and type of interruptions, and content analysis.
3. Group-level slack communications, including the number of messages sent, positive and negative content, reactions to posts, and length of posts.
4. Individual-level course outcomes: grades, performance on course assignments and lab-based tasks, including an “Escape room” activity and a “Lost at Sea” task.
5. Group-level outcomes: grades on a group writing assignment and lab-based tasks, including an “Escape room” activity and a “Lost at Sea” task.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
To answer our research questions, we randomly varied two things when assigning students to study groups: the gender composition of groups and the gender of the group leader. Groups were comprised of either 2 women and 4 men, 4 women and 2 men, or 6 women (ratios based on the balance of students enrolled). Halfway through the semester, we assigned each group a leader and varied the gender of the leader (except in all-female groups, where the leader was always a female determined by random selection). This set of experimental conditions allows us to observe whether the more gender-balanced setting of American Heritage alters the effect of group gender composition on the outcomes we tested in other settings as well as whether the gender of the group leader affects individual and group-level outcomes.

We collected data on the first cohort of students during the Winter semester of 2019, then ran a second wave of the experiment in the Fall semester of 2019, resulting in a total of 623 individuals assigned to six-person groups. Given the research design, we anticipate gaining enough statistical power to draw conclusions from the data collected from our total of 623 participants, even after clustering our standard errors by group assignment.

Data comes in four broad forms: First, group communication, which comes in the form of audio recordings of group meetings and online participation through a communication and collaboration platform (“Slack”) used by participants in our study. Audio recordings will be transcribed using Google transcription services and then analyzed for relative amounts of time that men and women talk, interrupt each other, and the general tone and content of such deliberations (Dietrich, Hayes, and O’Brien 2019; Karpowitz and Mendelberg 2014).

The study also includes data from American Heritage students who chose not to participate in study groups. These data include both American Heritage course grades and responses to surveys administered at the beginning and end of the semester. Including data from students not enrolled in the study group portion of the study allows us to better understand selection into study groups and to evaluate the effects of study groups on student performance, with special attention to how different types of study groups affect marginalized groups, such as women, first-generation college students, and students of color. Once the transcripts are completed, we will be able to code them for gendered patterns. Students’ online participation through Slack will also be coded and analyzed through similar methods.

Second, students complete regular surveys evaluating each other’s contributions and their own experiences in their respective study groups. As part of weekly group meetings, students also complete assignments and various individual and group-level tasks.

Third, students submit a final group paper at the end of the course. To ensure an objective measure of the quality of this group-level assignment, papers will be assessed by a group of independent student teaching assistants who are unaware of the project goals but qualified to grade the assignments. Grades will then be used to identify whether certain types of groups produce better outcomes. Because we randomly assigned individuals to treatment conditions, we can compare outcomes among men and women assigned to different conditions with simple difference-in-differences tests.

Finally, beyond the group-level measures, we will also examine students’ individual-level performance on American Heritage course assignments (exam, paper, and participation scores as well as final course grades) and their responses to monthly surveys.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computerized Randomization
Randomization Unit
Study Groups with randomly determined gender ratios; Randomly Assigned Group Leaders of varied gender (also determined randomly)
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
111 groups
Sample size: planned number of observations
623 students, 111 groups (most groups will consist of 6 individuals, but some will be 5-person groups based on student numbers)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
40 groups composed of 2 women and 4 men,
45 groups composed of 4 women and 2 men,
36 groups composed of 6 women.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Brigham Young University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials