Job market paper

“Policy Evaluation of Gender Affirmative Action in Engineering Schools”

Valentina Contreras

Abstract: This paper evaluates the impact of two separate but contemporaneous efforts to increase female participation in engineering schools by two leading universities in Chile (Universidad de Chile and PUC-Chile). I use a difference-in-difference approach to estimate the effectiveness of the policies and a peer effects model to explore further consequences of the reform on students’ academic performance and drop-out rates. The paper finds that (i) both policies were successful in increasing women’s enrollment and attendance at their engineering courses; (ii) they did not change the average academic ability of accepted students (as measured by their average composite application scores); (iii) The UCH policy led to lower first-year drop-out rates among women; improved performance in collaborative projects by both men and women and had no significant effect on other first-year educational outcomes.

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