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Gender Gap and Multiple Choice Exams in Public Selection Processes


  • J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz

    (Fedea and Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

  • Juan José Ganuza

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Barcelona GSE)

  • Manuel García

    (Washington University in St Louis and Universidad Complutense de Madrid)


Multiple choice tests are commonly used by the public sector in their recruitment and selection procedures as well as in the regulation of entry for some professions (lawyers, physicians, etc.). Empirical and experimental literature has found evidence that females skip more questions on these tests undermining their performance. This bias could increase the gender gap in the public sector, and it can be an important caveat of the public recruitment policies for attracting talent. Using data of the Spanish “MIR (Médico Interno Residente)” national exam of 2019, we analyze if gender differences in behavior arise in high-stakes tests, in which the outcome of the test has long term impact on the test takers careers. We find that when a female prepares intensively and trains for the test, although she skips more questions than men, the effect is significantly smaller than in the previous literature. However, we still find small differences in the exam performance between men and female, and this gender gap in performance is greater for the best candidates.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Juan José Ganuza & Manuel García, 2020. "Gender Gap and Multiple Choice Exams in Public Selection Processes," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 235(4), pages 11-28, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:hpe:journl:y:2020:v:235:i:4:p:11-28

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Silvia Griselda, 2020. "Different Questions, Different Gender Gap: Can the Format of Questions Explain the Gender Gap in Mathematics?," 2020 Papers pgr710, Job Market Papers.

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    More about this item


    Multiple choice Test; Gender Gap; Competition; Tournaments.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination


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