Gender discrimination against next-generation researchers: Evidence from a field experiment

Last registered on August 19, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Gender discrimination against next-generation researchers: Evidence from a field experiment
Initial registration date
August 18, 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
August 19, 2020, 11:57 AM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

University of Bern

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Bern
PI Affiliation
University of Bern
PI Affiliation
University of Mannheim
PI Affiliation
University of Münster

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We conduct a natural eld experiment to study gender discrimination against
prospective next-generation researchers (pre-PhD level students) in the economics
profession. We send emails to members of the professional association of German-
speaking economists in which we invite the members to participate in a survey.
The survey invitations are part of an actual research project of two non- ctitious
Master's-degree students at a Swiss university, one of whom is female and one is
male. We randomly vary between email recipients if the email is sent and signed
by the male or female student. We nd, on average across all email recipients, that
the overall response rate is higher if the email sender is female. However, we nd
strong evidence for same-sex discrimination. Female economists strongly discrim-
inate against the female email sender, while male economists discriminate against
the male email sender. Same-sex discrimination among women is prevalent among
tenured and non-tenured recipients. Same-sex discrimination among men is only
observed for tenured recipients. The latter result implies that the average overall
e ect (favorable treatment of female sender) is driven by tenured male recipients.
Our results have implications for policies supporting female economists.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Berger, Sebastian et al. 2020. "Gender discrimination against next-generation researchers: Evidence from a field experiment." AEA RCT Registry. August 19.
Experimental Details


The project is laid out in detail in the Open Science Framework
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Prevalence of discrimination following invitation to supply real effort.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We conducted a natural field experiment with mem-
bers of the association of German-speaking economists in countries Austria, Germany
and Switzerland (Verein fuer Socialpolitik ; VfS henceforth). During the time of our
experiment, the VfS had approximately 3,900 members at all career stages (incl. PhD
students). We contacted all members who, upon signing up for membership, consented to
be contacted for research purposes and therefore appeared on a list with email contacts.
This list, which contained the email contacts of about 59% of all members, was used to
implement our field experiment and to approach the members of the association. Overall,
2,356 members of VfS were part of our field experiment.

The experimental variation was embedded in the emails
that we sent to the VfS members and in which they were invited to take the survey.
The objective of our field experiment is to investigate if response rates of professional
economists depend on the gender of the support-requester. A key part of our field ex-
periment is that one of the two students was female and the other student was male.
To address the objective of our study, we randomly varied if the emails were sent and
signed by the female student or the male student: one randomly selected half of VfS
members on the email list received the email from the female student and the other ran-
domly selected half received the email from the male student. The emails were identical
except for the name of the sender. The treatment variation appeared at two points in
the treatment letter: once in the first sentence where the respective student introduces
her/him-self, and once at the end of the letter where the email is signed in the name of
the respective student. In addition, the name appeared in the email address of the sender
(email addresses had the name of the respective student before the @-symbol, while the
part after @-symbol was identical). These three appearances imply that the name, and
therefore gender, of the email sender was salient to email recipients.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by computer to decide which email adress to enroll in which treatment.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
all members of the Verein für Socialpolitik having consented to be contacted via email.
Sample size: planned number of observations
3500 emails sent.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
emails were sent in equal numbers to both treatments.
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


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