Panel Paper: Small-Scale Interventions, Large-Scale Results: Using Behavioral Designs to Close the Gender Gap in Technology

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Stetson F (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

NaLette Brodnax, Indiana University

The number of college women obtaining degrees in technology and engineering has been in steady decline since the 1980s, producing a considerable gap between men and women. As the 21st century economy increasingly demands technologically skilled workers, the gender gap in technology degree attainment has become a salient issue for educators, policymakers, and advocates of gender equity. Existing work on efforts to close the gender gap in technology has largely focused on K–12 education, and the few studies within higher education have been conducted with small samples and within highly selective schools of computing and engineering. I use a cluster-randomized experimental design to measure the impact of a targeted academic advising intervention on approximately 5,000 incoming freshmen at Indiana University. The intervention targets both cognitive- and social-psychological processes to "nudge" students and costs less than one dollar per student. Evaluation results show positive effects on overall technology course take-up and suggest that small-scale interventions can be leveraged to increase women's participation on a larger scale than what has been shown in earlier studies.

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