Gatekeepers: Do School Counselors Exhibit Racial or Gender Bias in Recommending Students for Advanced Placement Calculus?
Dania Francis

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Massachusetts Boston

Primary Discipline

In this project, we seek to understand minority and female underrepresentation in advanced STEM courses in high school by investigating whether school counselors exhibit racial or gender bias during the course assignment process. Using an adapted audit study, we will ask a nationally-recruited sample of school counselors to evaluate student transcripts that are identical except for the names on the transcripts, which will be varied randomly to suggestively represent a chosen race and gender combination. Since the only differences in the profiles across participants will be the gender or racial origin of the names on top, we would expect no significant difference by race or gender in the average likelihood of survey participants recommending a particular student profile for advanced coursework. Any differences can be attributed to bias (whether implicit or explicit). Our results may have policy implications for any program that asks individuals to make recommendations that may be subject to bias.
About Dania Francis
Dania V. Francis is Assistant Professor of Economics and Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst. She received her Ph.D. from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University in 2013. Her current research involves using experimental and quasi-experimental methods to identify structural causes of racial and socioeconomic academic achievement gaps. More broadly, Dania’s research interests include examining racial and socioeconomic disparities in education, labor markets and the criminal justice system through the theoretical lens of stratification economics. Dania has taught courses in the economics of education, the history of the education of blacks in the U.S., and contemporary issues of race and education.

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