Modeling Opportunity

Kevin Lewis

December 01, 2022

The Asymmetric Gender Effects of High Flyers
Angela Cools, Raquel Fernández & Eleonora Patacchini
Labour Economics, December 2022 


Using longitudinal information on a representative sample of U.S. students, we study the effects of exposure to female and male high flyers in high school. We identify a causal effect by exploiting quasi-random variation to peers with highly-educated parents across grades within a school. Greater exposure to male high flyers decreases the likelihood that women obtain a bachelor’s degree, lowers their math and science grades, decreases their LFP and increases fertility. They show lower levels of self-confidence/aspirations. The effects are found for girls with below median ability and for those with at least one college-educated parent. There are no effects of high flyers of either gender on boys.

The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers
Seth Gershenson et al.
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, November 2022, Pages 300-342 


Leveraging the Tennessee STAR class size experiment, we show that Black students randomly assigned to at least one Black teacher in grades K–3 are 9 percentage points (13 percent) more likely to graduate from high school and 6 percentage points (19 percent) more likely to enroll in college compared to their Black schoolmates who are not. Black teachers have no significant long-run effects on White students. Postsecondary education results are driven by two-year colleges and concentrated among disadvantaged males. North Carolina administrative data yield similar findings, and analyses of mechanisms suggest role model effects may be one potential channel.

Footsteps I would like to follow? How gender quotas affect the acceptance of women leaders as role models and inspirations for leadership
Christa Nater, Madeline Heilman & Sabine Sczesny
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming


This research examines how the method of selecting women leaders affects other women's leadership interest. The results of three experiments (N = 1,015) indicated that only when women leaders were selected due to merit, not quota-based policies, did they boost female participants’ interest in a leadership position. These reactions were mediated by perceptions of the woman leader's deservingness of her position (Studies 1–3) and consequent acceptance as a role model (Studies 2 and 3). Accordingly, success information validating quota-based selected leaders’ competence provided a boost in leadership interest equal to that of merit-based selected leaders (Study 2). For male participants, quota but not merit-based selected women leaders lowered interest in leadership due to their pessimistic assessment of the probability of being selected (Study 1). These results suggest that a wise implementation of quota regulations includes validating women's competence so they are perceived as deserving of their leader roles and can thus serve as inspiring role models.

Double Jeopardy: Teacher Biases, Racialized Organizations, and the Production of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in School Discipline
Jayanti Owens
American Sociological Review, forthcoming 


Bridging research in social psychology with scholarship on racialized organizations, this article shows how individual bias and organizational demographic composition can operate together to shape the degree of discrimination in schools. To understand Black and Latino boys’ higher rates of discipline that persist net of differences in behavior, I combine an original video experiment involving 1,339 teachers in 295 U.S. schools with organizational data on school racial/ethnic and socioeconomic composition. In the experiment, teachers view and respond to a randomly assigned video of a White, Black, or Latino boy committing identical, routine classroom misbehavior. I find that, compared to White boys, Black and Latino boys face a double jeopardy. They experience both (1) individual-level teacher bias, where they are perceived as being more “blameworthy” and referred more readily for identical misbehavior, and (2) racialized organizational climates of heightened blaming, where students of all races/ethnicities are perceived as being more “blameworthy” for identical misbehavior in schools with large minority populations versus in predominantly White schools. This study develops a more comprehensive understanding of the production of racial/ethnic inequality in school discipline by empirically identifying a dual process that involves both individual teacher bias and heightened blaming that is related to minority organizational composition.

Yellin' at Yellen: Gender Bias in the Federal Reserve Congressional Hearings
James Bisbee, Nicolò Fraccaroli & Andreas Kern
Georgetown University Working Paper, February 2022


How prevalent is gender bias among U.S. politicians? We analyze the transcripts of every congressional hearing attended by the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve from 2001 to 2020 to provide a carefully identified effect of sexism, using Janet Yellen as a bundled treatment. We find that legislators who interacted with both Yellen and at least one other male Fed chair over this period interrupt Yellen more, and interact with her using more aggressive tones. Furthermore, we show that the increase in hostility experienced by Yellen relative to her immediate predecessor and successor are absent among those legislators with daughters. Our results point to the important role of societal biases bleeding into seemingly unrelated policy domains, underscoring the vulnerability of democratic accountability and oversight mechanisms to existing gender norms and societal biases.

A framing effect in the judgment of discrimination
Christopher Hsee & Xilin Li
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 22 November 2022 


Discrimination is not only an objective fact but also a subjective judgment. While extensive research has studied discrimination as an objective fact, we study the judgment of discrimination and show that it is malleable while holding objective discrimination constant. We focus on a common situation in real life: the constituent groups in a candidate pool are unequal (e.g., fewer female candidates than male candidates for tech jobs), and observers (e.g., the public) see only one side of the decision outcome (e.g., only the hired applicants, not the rejected ones). Ten experiments reveal a framing effect: people judge the decision-maker (e.g., the tech firm) as more discriminatory against the minority in the candidate pool if people see the composition of the accepted candidates than if they see the composition of the rejected candidates, even though the information in the two frames is equivalent (i.e., knowing the information in one frame is sufficient to infer the information in the other). The framing effect occurs regardless of whether the decision-maker is objectively discriminatory, replicates across diverse samples (Americans, Asians, and Europeans) and types of discrimination (e.g., gender, race, political orientation), and has significant behavioral consequences. We theorize and show that the framing effect arises because, when judging discrimination, people overlook information that they could infer but is not explicitly given, and they expect equality in the composition of the constituent groups in their given frame. This research highlights the fallibility of judged discrimination and suggests interventions to reduce biases and increase accuracy.

Stressing the Advantages of Female Leadership Can Place Women at a Disadvantage: A Replication and Extension of Lammers and Gast (2017)
Daria Mousavi, Anna Schulte & Joris Lammers
Social Psychology, Fall 2022, Pages 257–262


An often-heard claim is that women will inevitably take over men’s dominant position in management due to superior female leadership skills. Lammers and Gast (2017) found that such claims paradoxically maintain gender inequality by undermining support for affirmative action. The original article was limited by comparing a single experimental and control text and exclusive reliance on American samples. We report a replication and extension among a German community sample (N = 300), which tests the effects of five different experimental stimuli, primarily drawn from different German media outlets, against a control stimulus. The data replicate earlier effects and confirm that the media should be careful not to exaggerate claims about female leadership strengths.

Beyond the Baby Bump: Subtle Discrimination Against Working Mothers In the Hiring Process
Ho Kwan Cheung et al.
Journal of Business and Psychology, December 2022, Pages 1181–1198 


Despite a large proportion of working mothers in the American workforce, research suggests that negative stereotypes and discrimination against working mothers continue to exist. In a set of two experimental studies, the current paper examined subtle discrimination against non-pregnant, working mothers in different hiring settings. In Study 1, using a between-subject field experiment and applying for geographically dispersed jobs with manipulated resumes, we found evidence for subtle discrimination, such that mothers received more negativity in callback messages than women without children, men without children, and fathers. They were also rejected more quickly than women without children and fathers. In Study 2, using a more controlled experimental paradigm, we tested our hypothesis in a hypothetical interview evaluation setting. We found that mothers faced more interpersonal hostility across different job types as compared to women without children. Together, these studies highlight the presence of subtle discrimination against working mothers at different stages of the hiring process.

From Micro to Macro Gender Differences: Evidence from Field Tournaments
José De Sousa & Guillaume Hollard
Management Science, forthcoming 


We document that women compete worse against men in field tournaments in over 150 countries and across all ages. Our field setting is the game of chess and we benefit from a large and rich data set to investigate the robustness and heterogeneity of our uncovered gender differences in competition. We find a macro gender gap in every country: there are fewer female than male players, especially at the top, and women have lower average rankings. Moreover, comparing millions of individual games, we find a small but robust micro gender gap: women’s scores are about 2% lower than expected when playing a man rather than a woman with an identical rating, age and country. Using a simple theoretical model, we show how this small micro gap may affect women’s long-run human-capital formation. By reducing effort and increasing the probability of quitting, both effects accumulate to explain a larger share of the macro gap.

The effects of being racially, ethnically, & socioeconomically different from peers
Nancy Haskell
Social Science Research, forthcoming


Classroom diversity in observable characteristics has been shown in prior literature to have different effects on the educational and behavioral outcomes of students with observable characteristics that differ from their peers. Given that similarity in observable characteristics plays a critical role in social interactions (homophily), students may experience social costs to being racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically very different from their peers. We test these implications using reduced form regressions on Add Health data, where identification comes from exogenous variation in the demographic composition of grades within a school. Empirical findings suggest that students who are more socioeconomically different from same-gender peers are less happy, feel less socially accepted, and do worse academically, particularly in low diversity environments. However, racially different students put forth more effort by participating in extracurricular activities when diversity is low. High diversity environments generate more nonconformity (e.g., altercations with other students) among racially different students, although academic outcomes improve. The results highlight the complexity and importance of considering group composition when weighing policy initiatives that alter the distribution of student types across high schools.

Too Tired to Lean In? Sleep Quality Impacts Women’s Daily Intentions to Pursue Workplace Status
Leah Sheppard, Teng Iat Loi & Julie Kmec
Sex Roles, October 2022, Pages 379–389 


An assumption of sleep and self-regulation theories is that sleep quality impacts mood which, in turn, prompts individuals to revise their work-related goals. We propose that gender differences in emotion, emotional regulation, and career aspirations layer complexity onto these basic assumptions. In the current work, we investigate the effect of daily sleep quality – via positive affect – on intentions to pursue more status and responsibility at work (i.e., aspirations), as a function of participant gender. We test our model using experience sampling methodology, surveying 135 full-time employees residing in the United States twice daily across two consecutive work weeks (10 workdays), for a total of 2,272 observations. We find that among women, but not men, sleep quality is positively related to positive affect which, in turn, relates to greater daily intentions to pursue more status and responsibility at work. We discuss the implications of our work for research and practice.

Closing the Gender Gap in Patenting: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial at the USPTO
Nicholas Pairolero et al.
USPTO Working Paper, November 2022 


Women are underrepresented in patenting and the gap is not closing quickly. One major roadblock to progress is a dearth of causal evidence on the potential effectiveness of policies to reduce the gender gap in patenting. Analyzing a randomized control trial at the United States Patent and Trademark Office that was designed to provide additional help to applicants who do not have legal representation, we find heterogeneous causal impacts across gender and technologies on the probability of obtaining patent rights. While both men and women applicants benefited, the probability of obtaining a patent was about 11 percentage points greater for women, and the effects were largest for U.S. inventors, new U.S. inventors, and in technology areas where women had the worst relative outcomes. Our results suggest that a portion of the gender gap in patenting could be eliminated through additional assistance during patent examination.


from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.