Challenges of Change: An Experiment Promoting Women to Managerial Roles in the Bangladeshi Garment Sector

61 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2020

See all articles by Rocco Macchiavello

Rocco Macchiavello

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - London School of Economics

Andreas Menzel

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute)

Atonu Rabbani

University of Dhaka

Christopher Woodruff

University of Oxford - Wolfson College

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Date Written: July 2020

Abstract

Women remain disadvantaged in access to management positions around the world. We conduct a field experiment with 24 large garment factories in Bangladesh to test for inefficient representation of women among line supervisors. We identify the marginal female and male candidates for supervisory positions and randomly assign them to manage production lines. Three sets of results emerge: (i) extensive diagnostic testing at baseline reveal few skill differences between marginal female and male supervisor candidates; (ii) initially, marginal female candidates have lower productivity and evaluations from sub-ordinate workers, though after four to six months, these gaps disappear; and (iii) the share of the female candidates retained as line supervisor after the trial is significantly higher than the share of female supervisors in the factories at baseline. This suggests that factories previously promoted fewer women than would have been optimal. Additional surveys and a lab-in-the-field experiment suggest that the initially worse performance stems from negative beliefs of workers about the abilities of female supervisors.

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Suggested Citation

Macchiavello, Rocco and Menzel, Andreas and Rabbani, Atonu and Woodruff, Christopher, Challenges of Change: An Experiment Promoting Women to Managerial Roles in the Bangladeshi Garment Sector (July 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27606, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3665877

Rocco Macchiavello (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - London School of Economics ( email )

United Kingdom

Andreas Menzel

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute) ( email )

P.O. Box 882
7 Politickych veznu
Prague 1, 111 21
Czech Republic

Atonu Rabbani

University of Dhaka ( email )

Christopher Woodruff

University of Oxford - Wolfson College ( email )

United Kingdom

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