Does Information Affect Homophily?

34 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2022

See all articles by Yana Gallen

Yana Gallen

University of Chicago

Melanie Wasserman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2022


It is common for mentorship programs to use race, gender, and nationality to match mentors and mentees. Despite the popularity of these programs, there is little evidence on whether mentees value mentors with shared traits. Using novel administrative data from an online college mentoring platform connecting students and alumni, we document that female students indeed disproportionately reach out to female mentors. We investigate whether female students make costly trade-offs in order to access a female mentor. By eliciting students’ preferences over mentor attributes, we find that female students are willing to trade off occupational match in order to access a female mentor. This willingness to pay for female mentors declines to zero when information on mentor quality is provided. The evidence suggests that female students use mentor gender to alleviate information problems, but do not derive direct utility from it. We discuss the implications of these results for the design of initiatives that match on shared traits.

Keywords: homophily, mentorship, preference elicitation, gender

JEL Classification: J160, J240, J710

Suggested Citation

Gallen, Yana and Wasserman, Melanie, Does Information Affect Homophily? (2022). CESifo Working Paper No. 9795, Available at SSRN: or

Yana Gallen (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Melanie Wasserman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States


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