This paper examines whether being in the minority causes women to leave male-dominated fields. I conduct a field experiment in an introductory economics course where I randomly assign students to small study groups with different gender compositions. Results show that women assigned to female-minority groups are 11 percentage points more likely to drop out of the course than women in other groups. This dropout effect is especially strong for women with higher math achievement and academic potential; when randomly assigned to a female-minority group, these women are also more likely to leave the original study program in the long run. I highlight three potential mechanisms of the effect: raised salience of women's minority status, decreased academic self-confidence, and reduced social integration. The findings of the paper suggest that minority status can perpetuate itself and create a vicious cycle of underrepresentation.
"Access to Pensions, Old-Age Support, and Child Investment in China" (with Albert Park)
Accepted, Journal of Human Resources
This paper studies how access to public pensions affects old-age support and child investment in traditional societies. Guided by predictions from an overlapping generations model, we analyze the influences of a new pension program in rural China, using a difference-in-differences approach. We find that the program crowds out transfers from working-age adults, especially men, to their elderly parents. Interestingly, the impact on child investment significantly differs by child gender. While adult parents increase educational investment in sons, their investment in daughters appears to decrease. Our findings highlight the unintended consequences of public pensions on parental investment.
"The Transparency Gap" (with Christine Exley, Raymond Fisman, Judd Kessler, Corinne Low, and Mattie Toma)
Motivated by gender inequities in the labor market, this paper explores gender differences in the tendency to reveal negative performance information using three studies involving students, the general public, and employers. Study 1 takes advantage of a policy implemented during COVID-19 at a large U.S. university to show that women, particularly those in STEM classes, are more likely to reveal information on poor academic performance than men. This ``transparency gap'' is consistent with women anticipating discrimination in the absence of performance information and choosing to reveal more in an effort to mitigate discrimination. To provide supporting evidence for this explanation, Study 2 uses a survey experiment among a representative sample of the US population to show that performance information reduces anticipated discrimination, particularly against women in STEM. Finally, Study 3 uses a field experiment involving real employers to show that employers in STEM indeed discriminate against women in the absence of information, and that performance information reduces this discrimination. Taken together, our results are consistent with women, particularly those in STEM fields, revealing more information about their poor performance, because they may (accurately) fear even worse attributions in the absence of transparency.
We document a new source of discrimination that arises through sequential spillover effects. Employers in an incentivized resume rating experiment evaluate a sequence of hypothetical candidates with randomly assigned characteristics. Candidates are rated worse when following white men than when following women or minorities. Exploring the mechanisms, we find that spillover effects are inversely related to explicit bias. When reviewing high-quality resumes or recruiting in STEM industries, employers directly favor white men and display no spillover effects. For low-quality resumes or non-STEM industries, we find no direct bias but strong spillover effects. Our results highlight the power of implicit bias.
Personality is a key component of human capital, but causal evidence on the formation of personality remains scarce. This paper studies the impact of peers on personality development. We conduct a field experiment in which we randomly assign first-semester university students to study groups. In these groups we find personality spillovers along three dimensions: students become more conscientious when assigned to conscientious peers, more open-minded when assigned to open-minded peers, and more competitive when assigned to competitive peers. Effects on conscientiousness and competitiveness remain visible up to three years after the experiment, suggesting that peers can leave lasting marks on personality. To explain why some traits are more transmissible than others, we propose a simple model of personality development in which students adopt productive traits from their peers. This paper provides the first causal evidence on spillovers of noncognitive skills and highlights that socialization with peers can influence personality development.
Selected Work in Progress
Can Blind Hiring Remove Bias? (with Judd Kessler and Corinne Low)
Early Childhood Investment and Parental Well-Being (with Victoria Baranov, Pietro Biroli, and Anne Brenøe)
The Impact of Online Instruction on Student Learning and University Experience (with Ulf Zölitz and Uschi Backes-Gellner)