Current best practices for encouraging more female students to pursue degrees in economics may actually have the opposite effect and worsen gender disparities in the field, a recent study from Oregon State University found.
The study examined whether mass emails telling introductory economic students about promising career and earning opportunities helped increase female participation in higher-level economics courses. But instead, these emails appealed more to male students, increasing male enrollment and widening the existing gender gap. There was no change in the probability of female students majoring in economics.
Researchers say this demonstrates a need for more personalized, deliberate interventions.
“There are no shortcuts to promoting diversity,” said study co-author Todd Pugatch, an associate professor and associate director of the economics program in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts. “I don’t think we went into this expecting there’d be shortcuts or easy fixes, but we also didn’t expect there would be such unintended consequences.”
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