The role of the teaching assistant: Female role models in the classroom

Event Date: December 1, 2021
Authors: Amanda L.Griffith, Joyce B.Main
Categories: teaching assistant, role models, women in engineering
We use a dataset of first-year engineering students from a selective research-intensive public university to examine the impact of same-gender teaching assistants on course grades and major field choice. Our sample consists of students who were randomly assigned to a section of an introductory engineering course and a graduate teaching assistant. Results suggest there may be small positive effects on course grades and the probability of majoring in a high-earning field for female students assigned to a female teaching assistant.

Although the difference is marginally significant, the impact of a teaching assistant gender match for female students’ choice of a high-earning field is more pronounced in classrooms with a female instructor and above-median representation of female peers. Our results show limited evidence that female teaching assistants can provide the same benefits of a female instructor in STEM fields.

Read the publication at length