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The Gender Gap in Mathematics: Evidence from Chile

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  • Prashant Bharadwaj
  • Giacomo De Giorgi
  • David Hansen
  • Christopher A. Neilson

Abstract

Using a large administrative data set from Chile, we find that on average boys perform better than girls in math. In this article, we document several features of boys versus girls’ relative performance in math. First, we note that the gender gap appears to increase with age (doubles between fourth grade and eighth grade). Second, we test whether commonly proposed explanations such as parental background and investments, unobserved ability, and classroom environment (including teacher gender) help explain a substantial portion of the gap. While none of these explanations help in explaining a large portion of the gender gap, we show that boys and girls differ significantly in perceptions about their own ability in math. Conditional on math scores, compared to boys, girls are much more likely to state that they dislike math or find math difficult. We highlight differences in self-assessed ability as areas for future research that might lead to a better understanding of the gender gap in math.

Suggested Citation

  • Prashant Bharadwaj & Giacomo De Giorgi & David Hansen & Christopher A. Neilson, 2016. "The Gender Gap in Mathematics: Evidence from Chile," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(1), pages 141-166.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/687983
    DOI: 10.1086/687983
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Prashant Bharadwaj & Giacomo de Giorgi & David Hansen & CHRISTOPHER NEILSON, 2012. "The Gender Gap in Mathematics: Evidence from Low-and-Middle Income Countries," Working Papers id:5155, eSocialSciences.
    2. Prashant Bharadwaj & Giacomo De Giorgi & David Hansen & Christopher Neilson, 2015. "The gender gap in mathematics: evidence from a middle-income country," Staff Reports 721, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lippmann, Quentin & Senik, Claudia, 2018. "Math, girls and socialism," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 874-888.
    2. Quentin Lippmann & Claudia Senik, 2018. "Math, Girls and Socialism," Working Papers halshs-01387272, HAL.
    3. Gevrek, Z. Eylem & Gevrek, Deniz & Neumeier, Christian, 2020. "Explaining the gender gaps in mathematics achievement and attitudes: The role of societal gender equality," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    4. Karthik Muralidharan & Ketki Sheth, 2016. "Bridging Education Gender Gaps in Developing Countries: The Role of Female Teachers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(2), pages 269-297.
    5. Nagore Iriberri & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2019. "Competitive Pressure Widens the Gender Gap in Performance: Evidence from a Two-stage Competition in Mathematics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(620), pages 1863-1893.
    6. Youjin Hahn & Asadul Islam & Eleonora Patacchini & Yves Zenou, 2020. "Friendship and Female Education: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Bangladeshi Primary Schools," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 130(627), pages 740-764.
    7. Hahn, Youjin & Hassani Mahmooei, Behrooz & Islam, Asadul & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2016. "Do Friends Improve Female Education? The Case of Bangladesh," CEPR Discussion Papers 11615, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Muñoz, Juan Sebastián, 2018. "The economics behind the math gender gap: Colombian evidence on the role of sample selection," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 368-391.
    9. Hahn, Youjin & Islam, Asadul & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2017. "Do Friendship Networks Improve Female Education?," IZA Discussion Papers 10674, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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