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Let the girls learn! It is not only about math … it's about gender social norms

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  • Rodríguez-Planas, Núria
  • Nollenberger, Natalia

Abstract

Using PISA test scores from 11,527 second-generation immigrants coming from 35 different countries of ancestry and living in 9 host countries, we find that the positive effects of country-of-ancestry gender social norms on girls’ math test scores relative to those of boys expand to other subjects (namely reading and science). We further find that gender norms shaped by beliefs on women's political empowerment and economic opportunity affect the gender gaps in test scores in general. Interestingly, gender norms do not seem to particularly influence math-related stereotypes, but instead, preferences for math. Finally, the evidence indicates that these findings are driven by cognitive skills, suggesting that social gender norms affect parent's expectations on girls’ academic knowledge relative to that of boys, but not on other attributes for success—such as non-cognitive skills. Taken together, our results highlight the relevance of general (as opposed to math-specific) gender stereotypes on the math gender gap.

Suggested Citation

  • Rodríguez-Planas, Núria & Nollenberger, Natalia, 2018. "Let the girls learn! It is not only about math … it's about gender social norms," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 230-253.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:62:y:2018:i:c:p:230-253
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2017.11.006
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    Cited by:

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    2. Marianna Battaglia & Marisa Hidalgo-Hidalgo, 2020. "Non-Cognitive Skills and Remedial Education: Good News for Girls," Working Papers 20.10, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.
    3. Marcén, Miriam & Morales, Marina, 2019. "Gender division of household labor: How does culture operate?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 373, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    4. González, Libertad & Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2020. "Gender norms and intimate partner violence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 223-248.
    5. Daniel Montolio & Pere A. Taberner, 2018. "Gender differences under test pressure and their impact on academic performance: a quasi-experimental design," Working Papers 2018/21, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    6. Izaskun Zuazu, 2020. "Graduates’ Opium? Cultural Values, Religiosity and Gender Segregation by Field of Study," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(8), pages 1-27, July.
    7. Tindara Addabbo & Maddalena Davoli & Marina Murat, 2018. "Is there an immigrant-gender gap in education? An empirical investigation based on PISA data from Italy," Department of Economics 0124, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    8. Davoli, Maddalena & Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2020. "Culture and adult financial literacy: Evidence from the United States," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    9. Quan-Hoang Vuong & Thanh-Hang Pham & Trung Tran & Thu-Trang Vuong & Nguyen Manh Cuong & Nguyen Phuc Khanh Linh & Viet-Phuong La & Manh Toan Ho, 2020. "STEM education and outcomes in Vietnam: Views from the social gap and gender issues," Working Papers CEB 20-003, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    10. Balart, Pau & Oosterveen, Matthijs & Webbink, Dinand, 2018. "Test scores, noncognitive skills and economic growth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 134-153.
    11. Giorgio Brunello & Angela Crema & Lorenzo Rocco, 2021. "Some Unpleasant Consequences of Testing at Length," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 83(4), pages 1002-1023, August.
    12. Anghel, Brindusa & Rodríguez-Planas, Núria & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna, 2020. "Is the math gender gap associated with gender equality? Only in low-income countries," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    13. Bredtmann, Julia & Höckel, Lisa Sofie & Otten, Sebastian, 2020. "The intergenerational transmission of gender role attitudes: Evidence from immigrant mothers-in-law," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 101-115.
    14. Eble, Alex & Hu, Feng, 2020. "Child beliefs, societal beliefs, and teacher-student identity match," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    15. Anghel, Brindusa & Rodríguez-Planas, Núria & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna, 2019. "Culture, Gender, and Math: A Revisitation," IZA Discussion Papers 12371, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Tindara Addabbo & Maddalena Davoli & Marina Murat, 2018. "Is there an immigrant-gender gap in education? An empirical investigation based on PISA data from Italy," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 136, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    17. Brunello, Giorgio & Crema, Angela & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2018. "Testing at Length If It Is Cognitive or Non-Cognitive," IZA Discussion Papers 11603, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Zuazu-Bermejo, Izaskun, 2020. "Graduates’ opium? Cultural values, religiosity and gender segregation by field of study," OSF Preprints yn23j, Center for Open Science.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gender gap in math; Reading and science; Beliefs and preferences; Second-generation-immigrants; Cognitive and non-cognitive skills; Culture and institutions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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