DP15670 Does Integration Change Gender Attitudes? The Effect of Randomly Assigning Women to Traditionally Male Teams

Author(s): Gordon Dahl, Andreas Kotsadam, Dan-Olof Rooth
Publication Date: January 2021
JEL(s): J16, J24
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15670

We examine whether integrating men and women in a traditionally male-dominated environment can change attitudes about mixed-gender productivity, gender roles and gender identity. Our context is the military in Norway, where we randomly assigned female recruits to some squads but not others during boot camp. We find that living and working with women for 8 weeks causes men to have more egalitarian attitudes. There is a 14 percentage point higher fraction of men who think mixed-gender teams perform as well or better than same-gender teams, an 8 percentage point increase in men who think household work should be shared equally and a 14 percentage point increase in men who do not completely disavow feminine traits. Moreover, men in mixed-gender teams are more likely to choose military occupations immediately after boot camp which have a higher fraction of females in them. But these effects do not persist once treatment stops. Treated men's attitudes converge to those of the controls in a 6-month follow up survey and there is no long-term effect on choosing fields of study, occupations or workplaces with a higher fraction of women in them after military service ends. Contrary to the predictions of many policymakers, we do not find that integrating women into squads hurt male recruits' performance or satisfaction with service, either during boot camp or their subsequent military assignment. These findings provide evidence that even in a highly gender-skewed environment, gender stereotypes are malleable and can be altered by integrating members of the opposite sex. But they also suggest that without continuing intensive exposure, effects are unlikely to persist.