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

Link to article:



Dahl, Gordon, Andreas Kotsadam, Dan-Olof Rooth




Quarterly Journal of Economics

Vol 136 (2), 987-1030


We examine whether exposure of men to 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 eight 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 exposed to 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 six-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.


J16, J24,


Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination, Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


Oppdragsgiver: Norges Forskningsråd
Oppdragsgivers prosjektnr.: 287766
Frisch prosjekt: 8106 - Field Experiments to Identify the Effects and Scope Conditions of Social Interactions