Are you my mentor? A field experiment on gender, ethnicity, and political self starters

21 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2016 Last revised: 4 Mar 2017

Joshua L. Kalla

University of California, Berkeley

Frances McCall Rosenbluth

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Dawn Teele

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: September 19, 2016

Abstract

Do public officials respond unequally to requests for career advice? Through a correspondence experiment with 8,189 officials, we examine whether (hypothetical) male and female students who express interest in political careers receive differential responses from public officials. We report three striking findings. First, emails sent by female students were more likely to receive a response than those sent by male students, especially when the official was male. Second, the responses women received were as likely to be long, thoughtful, and contain an offer of help as those to men. Third, there were no partisan differences in responsiveness to male or female senders. Examining senders with Hispanic last names bolsters the results: Hispanic senders, especially men, were less likely to receive a quality response than non- Hispanic senders. Thus politicians may condition responsiveness and helpfulness on the ethnicity of constituents, but women who are self-starters in search of advice receive equal treatment.

Keywords: field experiment, gender, race, discrimination, audit study, political encouragement

Suggested Citation

Kalla, Joshua L. and Rosenbluth, Frances McCall and Teele, Dawn, Are you my mentor? A field experiment on gender, ethnicity, and political self starters (September 19, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2857402

Joshua L. Kalla (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Frances McCall Rosenbluth

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States
203-432-5256 (Phone)

Dawn Teele

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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