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Do gender stereotypes reduce girls' or boys' human capital outcomes? Evidence from a natural experiment

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  • Lavy, Victor

Abstract

Schools and teachers are often said to be a source of stereotypes that harm girls. This paper tests for the existence of gender stereotyping and discrimination by public high-school teachers in Israel. It uses a natural experiment based on blind and non-blind scores that students receive on matriculation exams in their senior year. Using data on test results in several subjects in the humanities and sciences, I found, contrary to expectations, that male students face discrimination in each subject. These biases widen the female-male achievement difference because girls outperform boys in all subjects, except English, and at all levels of the curriculum. The bias is evident in all segments of the ability and performance distribution and is robust to various individual controls. Several explanations based on differential behavior between boys and girls are not supported empirically. However, the size of the difference is very sensitive to teachers' characteristics, suggesting that the bias against male students is the result of teachers', and not students', behavior.

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  • Lavy, Victor, 2008. "Do gender stereotypes reduce girls' or boys' human capital outcomes? Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2083-2105, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:10-11:p:2083-2105
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paula England, 1982. "The Failure of Human Capital Theory to Explain Occupational Sex Segregation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 358-370.
    2. Victor Lavy, 2009. "Performance Pay and Teachers' Effort, Productivity, and Grading Ethics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1979-2011, December.
    3. Cecilia Rouse & Claudia Goldin, 2000. "Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of "Blind" Auditions on Female Musicians," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 715-741, September.
    4. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 843-877.
    5. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
    6. Dennis J. Aigner & Glen G. Cain, 1977. "Statistical Theories of Discrimination in Labor Markets," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(2), pages 175-187, January.
    7. Matthew Rabin & Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "First Impressions Matter: A Model of Confirmatory Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 37-82.
    8. Victor Lavy, 2002. "Evaluating the Effect of Teachers' Group Performance Incentives on Pupil Achievement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1286-1317, December.
    9. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor, 2004. "The Effect of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a School-Centered Randomized Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 1146, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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