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The Gender Gap in Secondary School Mathematics at High Achievement Levels: Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions

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  • Glenn Ellison
  • Ashley Swanson

Abstract

This paper uses a new data source, American Mathematics Competitions, to examine the gender gap among high school students at very high achievement levels. The data bring out several new facts. There is a large gender gap that widens dramatically at percentiles above those that can be examined using standard data sources. An analysis of unobserved heterogeneity indicates that there is only moderate variation in the gender gap across schools. The highest achieving girls in the U.S. are concentrated in a very small set of elite schools, suggesting that almost all girls with the ability to reach high math achievement levels are not doing so.

Suggested Citation

  • Glenn Ellison & Ashley Swanson, 2010. "The Gender Gap in Secondary School Mathematics at High Achievement Levels: Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 109-128, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:24:y:2010:i:2:p:109-28
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.2.109
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brown, Charles & Corcoran, Mary, 1997. "Sex-Based Differences in School Content and the Male-Female Wage Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 431-465, July.
    2. Glenn Ellison & Ashley Swanson, 2010. "The Gender Gap in Secondary School Mathematics at High Achievement Levels: Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 109-128, Spring.
    3. Paglin, Morton & Rufolo, Anthony M, 1990. "Heterogeneous Human Capital, Occupational Choice, and Male-Female Earnings Differences," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 123-144, January.
    4. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2010. "An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap in Mathematics," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 210-240, April.
    5. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2005. "Do Faculty Serve as Role Models? The Impact of Instructor Gender on Female Students," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 152-157, May.
    6. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "Gender Differences in Pay," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 75-99, Fall.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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