The Effect of Same-Gender and Same-Race Role Models on Occupation Choice: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Mentors at West Point
54 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2015 Last revised: 17 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 14, 2017
We use random assignment of role models to cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point to investigate the effect of same gender or race mentors on occupation choice in the United States Army. Women and racial minorities have traditionally been underrepresented in certain branches in the Army and these disparities seem to persist over time. We find that when a female cadet is assigned a female tactical officer, the cadet is 5.9 and 18.1 percentage points more likely to pick her officer's branch as her first or among her top three branch preferences respectively. These results are robust to controlling for a limited choice set for females and the timing of the mentorship. We find that black cadets paired with black officers are 6.1 percentage points more likely to pick their role model's branch. However, we find no results for Hispanic cadets.
Keywords: Role Model Effects; Occupation Choice; US Army; Labor Demand
JEL Classification: J24; J16; I23; H56
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation