Does Class Size Reduce the Gender Gap? A Natural Experiment in Law
Publication Date:May 30, 2014
We study a unique natural experiment in which Stanford Law School randomly assigned first-year students to small or large sections of mandatory courses from 2001-2011. We provide evidence (i) that small sections closed a slight (but substantively and highly statistically significant) gender gap existing in large sections from 2001-08; (ii) that reforms in 2008, which modified the grading system and instituted small, graded, writing and simulation-intensive courses, eliminated the gap entirely; and (iii) that women, if anything, outperformed men in small, simulation-based courses. Our evidence suggests that pedagogical policy --- particularly small class sizes --- can reduce, and even reverse, achievement gaps in post-graduate education.