Wednesday, 3 May 2023

Awareness Raising Interventions: Normative vs Informational

In their study, Boring and Philippe (2021) tested the impact of two types of awareness-raising campaigns: one (informational) with information to generate bias awareness vs one (normative) without information. The experiment was conducted in a French university where students were sent two different emails during the evaluation period. In one email, students were asked to be careful not to discriminate against their female teachers when evaluating them. In the other email, information (from a study on gender bias in scores in previous years at that university pointing out that male students tended to be biased in favour of male teachers) was added to trigger bias consciousness. 

Results showed that, in contrast to the normative treatment, the informational treatment had a significant impact on reducing bias. In addition, the informational treatment seemed to have a spillover effect, i.e., an impact on both students who received the email and on those who did not receive the email: "Anecdotal evidence suggests that this email sparked conversations between students within campuses, de facto treating other students."
Difference-in-difference analyses by teacher gender indicate that the purely normative treatment had no significant impact on reducing biases in SET scores. However, the informational treatment significantly reduced the gender gap in SET scores, by increasing the scores of female teachers. Overall satisfaction scores for female teachers increased by about 0.30 points (between 0.08 and 0.52 for the confidence interval at 5%), which represents around 30% of a standard error. The informational treatment did not have a significant impact on the scores of male teachers. These results are confirmed by a triple-difference analysis, in which we include all campuses and teachers. In all robustness checks, the informational treatment remains significant: when we compare campuses separately, when we look at men and women separately within each campus, and when we use the year before the experiment as control. Each strategy rests on slightly different hypotheses, but results remain consistent.

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- Boring, A. & Philippe, A. (2021). Reducing discrimination in the field: Evidence from an awareness raising intervention targeting gender biases in student evaluations of teaching. Journal of Public Economics, 193, link 
- photograph (students at University of Hartford, 1970s) via