Linking Non-Cognitive Skills and Educational Achievement to Girls in Developing Societies: The Case of Ghana with Sally Nuamah

January 26, 2017

Recent literature on non-cognitive skills provides promising evidence on the power of community and classroom based interventions for closing achievement gaps across school quality, race, and class. Yet, much of this work has been conducted on males that attend elite institutions in the U.S. There is very little work on how these same tactics can be implemented to overcome gender barriers and improve educational achievement of girls, particularly those that attend schools in non-western settings. In this seminar, Sally Nuamah investigates the experiences of girls from underprivileged backgrounds in Ghana striving to be the first in their families to go to college. She finds that school structure - leadership, curriculum, and peer networks - mediates the effects of their socio-cultural environments and individual background through the facilitation of positive academic identities (non-cognitive skills) that promote identity building and strategy development. These positive academic identities are useful for navigating the gender specific barriers that these girls face, thereby enabling their academic achievement.

Sally Nuamah, WAPPP Fellow; Joint Postdoctoral Fellow, University Center for Human Values and Center for Study of Democratic Politics, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University



Laboratory Evidence of the Effects of Sponsorship on the Competitive Preferences of Men and Women with Katie Coffman

March 9, 2016

How can women get ahead in competitive fields? One proposed way is through sponsorship programs – where a person (the sponsor) advocates for a protégé, and in doing so, takes a stake in her success. While these types of programs have received popular attention, little empirical evidence exists on their effectiveness. Coffman uses a laboratory experiment to explore two channels through which sponsorship has been posited to increase advancement in a competitive workplace. In the experimental setting, being sponsored provides a credible signal of one’s ability and/or creates a link between the protégé’s and sponsor’s payoffs. She finds that both features of sponsorship significantly increase willingness to compete among men on average, while neither of these channels significantly increases willingness to compete among women on average. Similarly, sponsorship has a directionally more positive effect on the earnings of male protégés than female protégés. Therefore, sponsorship does not close the gender gap in competitiveness or earnings. This seminar will explore how these insights from the laboratory could help to inform the design of sponsorship programs in the field. Speaker: 

Katie Coffman, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Ohio State University


Two Decades of Gender-Role Attitude Change in Europe with Mary Brinton

February 29, 2016

This seminar explores the assumption of many cross-national studies that gender-role attitudes fall along a single continuum between traditional and egalitarian. Brinton analyzes over-time data from 18 European countries and identifies trajectories of attitudinal change. Brinton demonstrates that while traditional gender-role attitudes have precipitously and uniformly declined, European nations are not converging towards one dominant egalitarian model but instead are diverging across three distinct varieties of egalitarianism.
Speaker: Mary C. Brinton, Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology, Harvard University

Gender Inequality: A Comparative View of the Challenges Ahead with Mary Brinton and Claudia Goldin

November 20, 2015

Gender Inequality persists to varying degrees across post-industrial economies. The seminar introduces the new Weatherhead Initiative at Harvard to study comparative gender inequality in OECD countries and outlines some of the major scholarly and policy challenges relating to the structure of work and its articulation with the family. 

Speakers: Mary Brinton, Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology; Department Chair, Department of Sociology, Harvard University and Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, Harvard University

The Biases that Blind Us: How Gender Stereotypes Constrain Opportunities for Women in STEM with Corinne Moss-Racusin

September 24, 2015

What is the impact of gender biases on promotion and advancement in the scientific community? Dr. Corinne Moss-Racusin shares her latest research exploring the impact of gender biases on meritocracy, diversity, and the pursuit of knowledge throughout academic science. She discusses educational strategies designed to increase awareness and reduce bias, and provides examples of effective scientific diversity interventions. SPEAKER: Corinne Moss-Racusin, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Skidmore College


What Works: Gender Equality, By Design

September 10, 2015

With gender equality increasingly a business imperative, in addition to being a human right, many leaders across the sectors wonder how we can get there. In the first WAPPP Seminar of 2015-16, Professor Bohnet discusses her forthcoming book "What Works: Gender Equality, By Design" (Harvard University Press 2016). Reviewing the impact of what we have been doing to date, including diversity and leadership trainings, networking, and mentorship/sponsorship programs, Bohnet proposes a new approach to leveling the playing field. Building on insights from Behavioral Economics, she argues that to overcome gender bias in organizations and society, we should focus on de-biasing systems—how we evaluate performance, hire, promote, structure tests, form groups—rather than on trying to de-bias people. Speaker: Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy; Director, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School


Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity with Jeni Klugman

February 13, 2015

The constraints facing women and girls worldwide range from epidemic levels of gender-based violence to biased laws and norms that prevent them from owning property, working, and making decisions about their own lives. The World Bank’s new book, “Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity,” documents major gender gaps and reviews promising policies and interventions. Underlining that women's agency–their ability to make decisions and act on them independently–has concrete as well as intrinsic value, WAPPP Fellow Jeni Klugman highlights new interventions from around the world that are used to empower women and girls, in conjunction with United Nations post-2015 global development agenda.


Paying the Price for Sugar and Spice: How Girls and Women are Kept out of Mathematics and Science with Jo Boaler

November 13, 2014

In STEM subjects at school girls achieve at the same levels as boys, or higher, but their participation in these important subjects declines as soon as they are able to make choices between subjects. Jo Boaler examines the reasons that girls and women don’t choose to take these subjects by highlighting the inequities in the education system. Boaler finds that a girl's mindset, combined with inequitable teaching of mathematics and science in schools, can affect their decisions to pursue STEM subjects. Speaker: Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education, Stanford University; Co-Founder of Youcubed


Closing the Gender Gap: Progress and Policies to Achieve Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship with Monika Queisser

October 24, 2014

How can we work toward greater gender equality and women’s empowerment in OECD countries and emerging economies around the world? The OECD’s answer is focusing on the 3 “E”s: education, employment and entrepreneurship. Recent public policy initiatives such as the OECD Gender Recommendation and gender work by the G20 forum emphasize the importance of increasing female labor force participation to achieve strong and balanced growth. OECD’s Head of Social Policy Division, Monika Queisser reviews these recommendations and other initiatives in the OECD countries, and disseminates new findings that aim to achieve better representation of women in public sector leadership. Speaker: Monika Queisser, Head of Social Policy Division, Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD


Women, Business and the Law: Removing Restrictions to Enhance Gender Equality with Sarah Iqbal

October 3, 2014

Men and women throughout the world want to provide for their families and ensure their children have a good start in life. Often, the chance to start a business or get a job is the surest way to accomplish this goal. But how can we be sure that women have the same opportunities as men to fulfill their economic potential? The World Bank Group's Women, Business and the Law project presents a unique dataset examining how the law can help or impede women from working and earning an income and what can be done to improve women's economic rights.