Female role models improved gender attitudes and educational aspirations of primary school students, with particular impact on boy(s)/male students

Read “Influencing youths’ aspirations and gender attitudes through role models: Evidence from Somali schools” by Elijah Kipkech Kipchumba, Catherine Porter, Danila Serra, and Munshi Sulaiman here.

While gender parity in primary education has made significant advancements in most countries, in low-income countries like Somalia, girls’ enrolment declines steeply moving into secondary school, with educational and career prospects for women being notably lower than men’s as well. In this VoxDevTalk, Munshi Sulaiman discusses his recent work in which Sulaiman and co-authors tested whether interactions with male and female role models impacted primary students’ educational aspirations and attitudes towards gender equality. Using local college students as role models, the authors test a simple, low-cost intervention of a one-hour conversation around role models’ life experiences, challenges they’ve overcome, and future plans.

The authors find an increase in positive attitudes towards gender equality for both boy and girl students exposed to female role models specifically, as well as increased educational aspirations (only for older students). Interestingly, for students with female role models, the results were stronger for boys than girl students. At a two-year follow-up evaluation, the impacts persisted, although at statistically insignificant levels. At scale, these results from an extremely low-cost intervention could lead to potentially large gains, particularly as changing gender attitudes positively affects other aspects of adolescent development and societal norms.

Gender attitudes Role models Somalia Aspirations