How does exposure to stereotypes affect educational and occupational choices? For example, to what extent do teacher stereotypes contribute to the gender gap in math-related fields? What can be done to increase awareness for own stereotypes and reduce biased behavior? These are the some of the questions Michela Carlana studies in her work. This video was made during his research visit at briq in 2019.
Michela Carlana on stereotypes and biased behavior
In her first lecture as part of the briq short lecture series, Michela Carlana (Harvard Kennedy School) presented her work on the effect of teacher stereotypes on student outcomes. She focused in particular on gender stereotypes providing evidence from the Italian context. Her work shows that teachers’ gender stereotypes have a negative effect on girls’ performance and self-confidence in own math abilities. Furthermore, stereotypes induce girls to underperform in math and self-select into less demanding high schools, following the track recommendation of their teachers.
Which kind of public policies could be implemented to mitigate the negative effect of exposure to stereotypes? In the second lecture, Michela addressed this issue by analyzing two types of policies. First, she discussed potential debiasing intervention with teachers and parents, and she provided evidence from a recent working paper on the effect of revealing own stereotypes against immigrants to teachers. The study shows that increasing awareness of teachers on own stereotypes reduces bias in grading against immigrants.
Second, she analyzed interventions with students to mitigate constraints induced by stereotypes: for example, the project “Girls Code It Better” is aimed at decreasing the vulnerability of girls to the exposure of the belief that “women are inherently less fit for math and tech fields than men”. In the context of bias against immigrants, she provides evidence of the positive impact of a large-scale randomized control trial targeted at high-achieving students and aimed at tackling their educational segregation in vocational schools.